Artificial intelligence has emerged as an essential tool in virtually every business landscape, and it’s easy to see why. The right AI tools can help organizations process huge volumes of data rapidly, helping to drive better business decisions. They can enhance our creativity and inspire us when creating marketing content. Some solutions can even automate repetitive tasks.
With new innovative algorithms and tools emerging on the market every day, it’s little wonder that around 83% of companies say using AI in their business processes is a priority. However, like all innovative tools, it’s important to ensure you’re leveraging AI correctly.
Here’s your step-by-step guide to the benefits of AI (and machine learning) for business process optimization, and how you can develop the right strategy for success.
Artificial intelligence comes in many forms, from innovative new generative tools like ChatGPT, to machine learning solutions for business analytics and customer service. With a huge range of applications, AI tools can help with a variety of business processes, from developing new products, to addressing customer queries. They can also power advanced “business process management”.
In the business process management world, AI technologies can streamline and enhance a variety of tasks. Before the introduction of intelligent technology, many companies had to build their processes manually, spending endless time and effort on process maps.
Now AI can do most of the heavy lifting. All companies need to do is tell a system what they need, and the algorithm does the rest. Innovative tools can help organizations reveal crucial trends, analyze competitors, predict outcomes, and even automate manual tasks.
Many companies are already beginning to see the benefits, and according to a PWC report, 67% of executives believe AI will help people and machines work together to improve operations.
One of the biggest mistakes companies can make is adopting AI without the right plan or strategy. As tempting as it can be to dive into an exciting new project to simply stay ahead of the competition, it’s important to ensure every investment you make delivers value.
Here’s how you can get started.
Though artificial intelligence might be a commonplace technology in today’s world, there are still plenty of people who don’t fully understand it. AI comes in many forms, from generative AI, to solutions for robotic process automation, and machine learning tools.
If you want to make sure you’re using your budget effectively on new tools, you need to understand what each of these systems can do. You don’t necessarily need to become an AI expert, but you should have a basic understanding of the functionality of each AI solution.
You can follow the blogs and videos of thought leaders in your industry to expand your knowledge, take online courses, or even attend webinars. It’s also worth reading books related to artificial intelligence, and how it can influence your sales and marketing strategies.
Once you know the basics, the next step is to begin looking at what you want to accomplish with AI. If you’re implementing AI into your business processes, there needs to be a reason behind it. In other words, you should be solving a specific problem, or heading towards a certain goal.
A few areas you can start examining if you’re focused on business process optimization include:
AI can also be an excellent tool for supporting intelligent decision-making, thanks to its ability to analyze large volumes of data and extract insights from raw information. Some solutions can even use historical data to predict the potential outcomes, challenges, and results of different strategies.
Once you’ve identified your goals, the next step is to prioritize what you want to accomplish first. Ultimately, the best strategy for an AI project is to focus on targeting the quick win solutions initially, rather than trying to aim for complex goals.
Think about which strategies, tools, and technologies are going to have the biggest impact on your business and revenue. For instance, will implementing generative AI into your prospecting strategy help you to reduce sale cycle times and customer acquisition costs?
Will using automation tools allow you to give your business leaders more time in their day to focus on transforming processes and supporting teams? When identifying which areas you want to prioritize, choose specific metrics and KPIs you can monitor to determine whether your implementation is moving your business in the right direction.
While virtually every company is keen to embrace the power of AI in business processes, not every organization has the internal skills and resources they need to leverage transformation tools.
There’s a big difference between what you might want to accomplish, and what your business can realistically do. For instance, if you want to create a revolutionary new chatbot, and you don’t have developers in your team to help with this, you’re going to struggle.
Assessing your internal resources doesn’t just mean looking at the skills of the people in your team. It also means figuring out how much you can afford to invest in your AI solution. If you don’t have the right team on-hand to implement new tools, but you do have a decent budget, you may be able to work with third-party experts and specialists to reach your goals.
AI may come in many different forms, but no artificial intelligence solution works without a comprehensive data strategy behind it. If you don’t have a robust data ecosystem, where you can access insights into your existing processes, as well as information to help train your bots and systems, then your AI initiative is bound to struggle.
Take the time to assess your data situation. Find out where you’re collecting data, and how it can be used to further your AI ambitions. Ensure the data you collect is clean and free from incoherent information or inaccuracies.
Once again, you may find you need additional specialist support during this process. Data analysts and experts can work with you to help you define whether your data ecosystem is suitable for an AI innovation.
Once your business is ready to start actively experimenting with AI solutions for business processes, it’s important to start slow, and with the right support. Look at your business goals, your existing resources, and your budget, and reach out to experts who can help you set up a pilot project for a few initial beta testers.
AI consultants and developers can work with you to develop a solution that addresses your core needs, similar to a “minimum viable product”. You can then introduce this technology to your AI champions, the people who feel most comfortable using innovative technology.
Use their feedback to guide the progress of your AI strategy. They’ll be able to tell you which solutions benefit them, and where you might be wasting your time. These beta testers can also become important coaches in the future of your AI strategy, teaching other professionals how to use new tools and driving adoption.
Finally, once you’ve confirmed your initial test pilot is delivering results, you can begin to roll out solutions to a wider number of team members, gathering their feedback and insights along the way. Don’t be tempted to invest in too much too fast.
With transformational solutions like artificial intelligence, it’s often best to start simple, using AI to incrementally unlock new opportunities and access value. As your business continues to evolve, make sure you’re providing the right level of consistent support to your team.
Remember, though some of your employees will be able to adopt technologies like this rapidly, with minimal effort, others will need more training and guidance. Failure to provide access to the right resources could mean that employees don’t adopt your new tools or business processes. This means your entire strategy will be rendered useless.
Artificial Intelligence isn’t going anywhere. As the algorithms and tools available on the market continue to grow more advanced, we’ll continue to find new ways to embed them into our daily lives. Used correctly, these tools can have a huge impact on your business processes, streamlining everything from employee onboarding, to sales and marketing.
However, it’s important to ensure you have the right strategy in place to facilitate your success. Rush into AI too quickly, or without the right resources, and you could waste time and money on a digital transformation plan that never bears fruit.
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