AI and machine learning is not the future, it's the present

This is a guest post by Raju Vegesna, chief evangelist at Zoho

For many, artificial intelligence (AI) is a distant and incomprehensible concept associated only with science fiction movies or high-tech laboratories.

In reality, however, AI and machine learning is already changing the world we know. From TVs and toothbrushes to real-time digital avatars that interact with humans, the recent CES show demonstrated how widespread AI is becoming in everyday life.

The same can be said of the business community, with the latest Gartner research revealing that 37% of organisations had implemented some form of AI or machine learning.

So far, these technologies have largely been adopted and implemented more by larger organisations with the resources and expertise to seamlessly integrate them into their business. But technology has evolved significantly in recent years, and SaaS (software as a service) providers now offer integrated technology and AI that meets the needs and budgets of small and medium businesses too.

Here are a few evolving trends in AI and machine learning that businesses of all sizes could capitalise on in 2020 and beyond.

Single vendor strategy

The enterprise software marketplace is expanding rapidly. More vendors are entering the market, often with a growing range of solutions, which creates confusion for early adopters of the technology. Integrating new technologies from a range of different vendors can be challenging, even for large enterprise organisations.

So, in 2020 and beyond, the businesses that will make the most of AI and machine learning are the ones implementing single-vendor technology platforms. It’s a challenge to work with data that is scattered across different applications using different data models, but organisations that consolidate all its data in one integrated platform will find it much easier to feed it into a machine learning algorithm.

After all, the more data that’s available, the more powerful your AI and machine learning models will be. By capitalising on the wealth of data supplied by integrated software platforms, advanced business applications will be able to answer our questions or help us navigate interfaces. If you’re a business owner, planning to utilise AI and machine learning for your business in 2020, then the single-vendor strategy is the way to go.

Hyper-personalisation

Technology has advanced at such a rate that businesses no longer need to compromise to fit the technology. This type of hyper-personalisation increases productivity for business software users and will continue to be a prime focus for businesses in 2020.

Take, for example, the rise of algorithmic social media timelines we have seen in the last few years. For marketers, AI and machine learning mean personalisation is becoming more and more sophisticated, allowing businesses to supercharge and sharpen their focus on their customers. Companies which capture insights to create personalised customer experiences and accelerate sales will likely win in 2020.

Data cleansing

With AI and machine learning, vast amounts of data is processed every second of the day. In 2020, one of the significant challenges faced by companies implementing AI and machine learning is data cleansing – the process of detecting, correcting or removing corrupt or inaccurate records from a data set.

Smaller organisations can begin to expect AI functionality in everyday software like spreadsheets, where they’ll be able to parse information out of addresses or clean up inconsistencies. Larger organisations, meanwhile, will benefit from AI that ensures their data is more consumable for analytics or prepares it for migration from one application to another.

Innovative marketing

Businesses can thrive with the right content and strategic, innovative marketing. Consider auto-tagging, which could soon become the norm. Smartphones can recognise and tag objects in your photos, making your photo library much more searchable. We’ll start to see business applications auto-tag information to make it much more accessible.

Thanks to AI, customer relationship management (CRM) systems will continue to be a fantastic and always-advancing channel through which businesses can market to their customers. Today, businesses can find its top customers in a CRM system by running a report and sorting by revenue or sales. In the coming years, businesses will be able to search “top customers,” and its CRM system will know what they’re looking for.

With changing industry trends and demands, it’s important for all businesses to use the latest technology to create a positive impact on its operations. In 2020 and beyond, AI and machine learning will support businesses by helping them reduce manual labour and enhance productivity.

While some businesses, particularly small businesses, might be apprehensive about AI, it is a transformation that is bound to bring along a paradigm shift for those that are ready to take a big step towards a technology-driven future. 

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