Understanding and utilization of artificial intelligence in today’s highly complex workplace is more important than ever.

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If the Industrial Revolution was the amplification of the workforce, then the era of artificial intelligence (often referred to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution), is the amplification of brainpower.

Understanding and utilization of AI in today’s highly complex workplace is more important than ever because we no longer operate within static, certain and predictable business environments — so we cannot rely on traditional ways of thinking and linear decision-making.

“Today, most companies are exposed to millions of factors (data) that affect their performance to varying degrees, and it is simply impossible for managers to process such large data sets to make decisions,” says Dr. Payam Saadat, academic program director and designer of the Bachelor of Science in business administration at City University of Seattle.

This is where AI plays a pivotal role. AI has the ability to process and extract patterns from large data sets that managers can seamlessly use as valuable intelligence for their decision-making.

So, what should we know about AI in today’s workforce?

Chatbots will increasingly replace humans in customer care.

Powered by AI, a chatbot is a computer program that automates chatting with a user through a conversational interface. Bots can understand somewhat complex requests, create personalized responses, and improve interactions over time.

According to Saadat, 1-800-Flowers has been able to automate 70 percent of its sales using Chatbots.

Instead of marketing to consumers, we’ll start marketing to their virtual assistants. 

Virtual assistants can now do more than check the water and turn on music for you to listen to. Virtual assistants are constantly increasing their skills — functions performed that can be created by third parties. For instance, the Anova Precision Cooker has an Amazon Alexa skill in which you can begin cooking through your voice by saying, “Alexa, ask Anova to help me cook steak.”

Creating skills for a virtual assistant platform can help boost brand loyalty as well as create direct revenue sources.

“Marketers are shifting the focus of their marketing from consumers to AI platforms such as Alexa, since virtual assistants have become trusted advisers to consumers,” says Saadat.

AI will take a lot of guesswork out of marketing and sales.

Traditionally, marketers created buyer personas, profiles of customers basically, as guides to find new customers. Buyer personas are based on historical data, current trends, and also just plain guesswork and marketer intuition.

In contrast, AI doesn’t rely on personas. AI is able to evaluate what has and what hasn’t been working across a company’s digital sales and marketing channels in real time, and it can use this input to generate customized marketing campaigns and create more opportunities for conversion.

Saadat cites Harley-Davidson as a success story. Harley-Davidson utilized AI to increase New York sales leads by 2,930 percent.

AI will streamline production through smart factories.

“Manufacturers are using AI to enhance monitoring and auto-correction of manufacturing processes, and optimize supply chain and production,” says Saadat.

Rather than rely on a traditional linear supply chain model, a smart factory is an open, interconnected system of supply operations, the result of which is manufacturing that is more agile and better poised to adapt to change as well as a manufacturing process that produces less waste.

In 2018, LG invested $524 million in a Smart Factory that operates through AI and big data solutions. This smart factory is expected to help LG produce 50 percent more appliances per year than its current facility.

AI may still sound like science fiction to some, but it is a reality today, one already well integrated into our daily lives.

“Imagine online retail stores without their recommendation systems,” says Saadat. “Manufacturers without their automated production lines, industrial robots, and anomaly detection systems. Imagine travel booking websites without their chatbots, virtual assistants without their AI algorithms, airplanes without their automated systems, and marketing campaigns without sentiment analysis and predictive analytics. It’s time to learn and adapt!”

City University of Seattle is a private nonprofit university accredited through the doctoral level. It is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the Top 50 in the country for its online bachelor’s degree programs for seven consecutive years.