Artificial intelligence is gaining momentum in the consumer landscape. Digital assistants, chatbots and every other kind of artificially intelligent service are taking up significant column space in the tech and business press. While AI has been around for years, adoption has boomed in recent times. It’s not a matter of if but when your competitors will achieve a strong advantage by introducing bots to streamline customer service, take some pressure off help desk or optimise HR processes.

According to Gartner, “Global business value derived from artificial intelligence is projected to total US$1.2 trillion in 2018, an increase of 70 per cent from 2017.”

If you are not embracing AI, your organisation could be in big trouble in the future. Even Facebook are worried, announcing in July 2018 that it would dramatically increase investment in AI research and development to ensure that it doesn’t fall behind as a technology innovator.

The opportunities to leverage AI in your organisation are many, but where to start?

Here are five ideas to consider:

  1. Give everyone a digital assistant. As CEO, you may have people to help manage your schedule, book appointments and make sure deadlines are met to enable you to spend more time on profitable activity. What if your teams had a similar facility to book meetings around difficult schedules, reserve resources, book transport and remind them of upcoming due dates? A bot can do all this and more with minimal set-up. What better way to improve the value each employee can deliver to the business, and simultaneously show people that their time is valued? Best of all, this assistant doesn’t get a pay cheque or holidays and never calls in sick.
  2. Improve collaboration and engagement with your digital workplace. After a huge investment in time and money it can be frustrating when employees do not adopt their Digital Workplace as quickly as expected. A digital workplace bot can help people find what they are looking for without searching through sections and menus, and can even suggest content. This bot can connect people with particular skills or experience, and locate relevant documentation such as previous sales proposals or contracts to assist with new projects and minimise rework.
  3. Give IT a break. We have all had a moment where we have forgotten how to complete a certain process and are either too embarrassed to ask IT (they have already told us how to do it twice) or simply don’t have time to wait for overloaded Helpdesk to get to us. Enter the Helpdesk Bot. Recognising “How do I” searches, this bot will take the user through a process step by step, freeing IT and ensuring the quickest resolution for the user.
  4. Make HR processes less painful for everyone. HR forms are generally unavoidable for booking leave, requesting equipment or submitting new ideas, not to mention time spent trawling through policies to work out what is and isn’t allowed. A bot, with access to the relevant information and systems, could assist staff to complete forms via a Q&A format, and add value by validating content and clarifying requirements, saving the HR team from a trying back-and-forth. “Book holidays for the first week in December” is easier than having to look up the dates. The bot can then ensure the required leave is available, then log the request, calendar the dates and automatically set up out of office replies.
  5. Welcome new starters. Onboarding employees is often done poorly, giving a bad first impression and wasting IT, HR and the new starter’s time. Introducing AI to the process ensures a consistent experience, conserving resources, and guiding the inductee through a series of introductory topics to provide information in manageable chunks. It can also ensure reliable completion of legal requirements such as safety briefings or acceptance of conditions. Employees who participate in a structured onboarding program are 69 per cent more likely to stay with an organisation for three years.

In the right hands, technology such as Microsoft Azure AI services can get you on the AI journey quickly. It’s worth investigating how AI can help your business… before it helps your competitors.