From invisible assistants working around the clock to sage investment council, Artificial Intelligence is emerging as perhaps the most versatile business tool in the proverbial book. With COVID-19 putting pressure on companies around the world, AI integration might be the boost your business needs.
This article will take about 2 minutes to read
The words “artificial intelligence” usually conjure up images of dystopian futures and life-like robots. From Terminator to Westworld, Hollywood has proven time and time again that we’re fascinated by the concept of artificial intelligence. But while these applications of artificial intelligence (AI) may score high revenues at the box office, it’s the lower profile AI software that rakes in revenue in the business world.
AI is an umbrella term for many different systems and technologies. From machine learning to language processing to problem-solving, any software that learns from experience and adjusts to new inputs is considered artificial intelligence.
Investing in Artificial Intelligence
In business, the largest of these AI sectors is machine learning. In essence, companies use machine learning to process large amounts of data quickly. But it goes beyond simply sorting through numbers. As the algorithm interacts with data, it becomes more efficient and more accurate in how it processes that data. This aspect of “learning” is what makes this technology so powerful for business development.
The Global AI Internet Freedom Fund LP (GAIIFF), a venture capital office out of the United States, leverages AI by integrating it directly into the Private Equity platform. Through a partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS), the fund has been able to increase returns by using data to guide their investment decisions.
“This provides our investors with a competitive edge in a cost-sensitive and technology-forward industry,” explains GAIIFF General Partner Simon Gillett. “Using AI to identify cash-flow positive companies who are in the growth stage of development and are well-positioned in their market, we are able to pin-point the stage in companies’ maturation during which it’s optimal to invest.”
Azafran Capital Partners, an early-stage venture fund focused on deep learning and machine learning is another such example.
“Gartner predicts that by 2030 AI will create $2.9 trillion of business value and 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity globally,” shares Managing Partner James F. Kenefick. “From enterprise applications such as customer care, to identity verification, streamlining hiring, plus a myriad of healthcare and wellness applications, AI is already having a huge impact on business that will grow exponentially in the coming years.”
What Does AI Have to Do With My Business?
At first glance, AI may only seem relevant for digital companies. However, in today’s era of social media, websites, and online communication, it would be extremely rare that a company is entirely removed from digital operations.
Just take a look at your inbox. Have you ever wondered how it decides whether something is junk? What about the reminders to follow up on certain email threads?
For most businesses, AI works as an invisible assistant. Simple programs built into our inboxes, CRM systems or client interfaces which make day-to-day tasks easier and more efficient. If AI can do that for your inbox, imagine what else it can do for your business.
“One key is to look for areas where existing employees can be made more efficient so they can concentrate on less mundane and day to day tasks,” shares Kenefick. “From customer care, to sales, hiring and employee management as well as data analysis and product decision. There are literally dozens of functions and areas that can now be improved and augmented by AI systems.”
Artificial Intelligence, Real Business
Take Opportunity Network as an example. Chief executives and investors come to the deal matching platform to find the right connections to grow their business.
With 30,000+ members across 130 countries already on the network, and more joining each day, the opportunities are virtually endless. The problem is finding the ones that fit each business leaders’ specific needs. Even if an assistant worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to sort through all the possibilities, it still wouldn’t be enough. Instead, when a member searches or posts on the platform, the algorithm learns what kinds of deals they’re interested in. With each interaction, it’s able to better understand what the user is looking for and find the best matches for their needs.
“What we have developed is an assistant that pays attention to every action you make as well as every word you mention. It then adjusts your agenda accordingly,” explains Opportunity Network’s Director of Engineering Mina Boutros. “At the same time, it knows everyone else in the network and is doing the same for them.”
And because business is heavily influenced by environmental factors, the algorithm pulls insights from outside the platform as well.
“It has access to analytical data inside and outside the network, for example trends and financial markets,” Boutros continues. “It is processing all the activity and distilling all of it to cater for your business needs. Every time it makes a suggestion, it does so by processing hundreds of thousands of data endpoints. It can do it repeatedly and endlessly as you, the network and the world evolve.”
Why Invest in Artificial Intelligence Now?
Already a growing field, COVID-19 has only amplified the need for AI integration. Automating mundane tasks not only optimizes processes and increases efficiency, but ensures that things don’t fall through the cracks of a remote workforce. With the global business climate changing day by day, AI provides extra support and resilience that companies need now, as well as in the years to come.
“This trend is not going away and it will be a significant element of how businesses run within this decade,” predicts Kenefick. “The human element will remain important, but machine learning will be the backbone of all business.”
General Partner at The Global AI Internet Freedom Fund LP (GAIIFF)
James F. Kenefick
Managing Partner at Azafran Capital Partners
Director of Engineering at Opportunity Network