AI gains traction among a wide range of industries

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To improve their existing services and launch new ones, a wide range of businesses are undertaking projects based on artificial intelligence.

A global survey of more than 3,000 CIOs reveals that one out of four companies have already deployed AI or are making short-term plans to do so—up 10 percent from 2015.

The survey, was conducted by market researcher Gartner, forecasts that the number of customer interactions based on AI-related technologies, such as machine-learning, chatbots and mobile messaging, will rise from 11 percent at present to 72 percent by 2022.

Some organizations have already made use of AI to enhance their existing services. For example, a patent office in Australia uses the technology to classify its patents and ensure that they are reviewed by the appropriate specialist. The application, which was developed by graduate students and uses readily available cloud-hosted services, reduces its staffing requirements while shortening the review cycle.

"This demonstrates how AI can have a high impact even at relatively low levels of investment, if applied to the right cases with the right skill set," notes Magnus Revang, a Gartner research director.

Other organizations have used AI to create entirely new services, such as the office supply company that developed an intelligent, voice-driven interface. This allows their customers to reorder supplies with a minimum of human interaction.

"Overall, AI helps organizations relieve some of the burden on the back office. It also helps them power the front office with applications such as virtual personal assistants,” says Revang.

$200 billion in new revenue
Gartner also forecasts that in 2018 AI will lead to $200 billion in new revenue and the elimination of some 943,000 jobs, although it also claims that will be counter-balanced by the creation of some 768,000 new AI-related positions.

By 2020, however, the researcher predicts AI applications will create 2.3 million jobs, while eliminating only 1.8 million existing positions. People in moderately skilled occupations, for which training is received "on the job," will bear the brunt of the losses, says Helen Poitevin, another Gartner research director, while the new positions will be weighted towards highly skilled, managerial roles.

Recent deployments of chatbots point to likely directions. For example, they are already used by job recruiters to screen applications and handle other mundane tasks. Ultimately, Poitevin says, it seems likely that AI will take over the task of creating and posting job descriptions, giving recruiters more time to build relationships and monitor the effectiveness of their chatbots.

Businesses that ignore AI’s potential risk becoming uncompetitive or obsolete. "Now is the time for experimentation and proofs of concept," says Revang. "There are no best practices, only emerging practices."

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