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Is AI Changing the Corporate Landscape?

Like every business process, the corporate landscape is also influenced by AI and Machine Learning. It would be fair to say that businesses were dealt a difficult hand last year. With the onset of the novel coronavirus, organizations across all sectors were forced to completely transform the way that they work, or else be faced with the prospect of closing down their operations entirely. And in the face of chaos, for many businesses this has meant looking to new solutions and pioneering technology to envisage a way through in the new normal.

Of course, ‘business as usual’ now looks very different than it did at the beginning of 2020, before the pandemic hit. With most of the workforce now working remotely, or else stifled by lockdowns and social-distancing practices, increasingly, we are seeing organizations accelerating their digital transformation strategies years earlier than planned. Today, businesses are automating more of their processes, and generally relying on tech as a foundation of business, rather than something that’s simply “nice to have”.

Although initially, companies powered through their digital strategies at pace purely to safeguard their business continuity, the result has been that many have actually found themselves in a better position as a result of new tech. As such, I expect that progress will continue on an upward trajectory this year, and that in particular, artificial intelligence (AI) will reign supreme in the business sphere. Here are some things that businesses should consider if they’re still unsure about how AI can work in their favor…

AI Investment Will Soar in 2021

It has been no secret that in the race to end COVID-19, scientists have looked to AI as a means to collaborate, as well as to produce sophisticated data analytics and modeling to predict their progress. This might leave many business leaders with the impression that AI-powered tools remain just out of their grasp, but this is not the case.

In fact, our recent research has uncovered that more and more businesses are now opening their eyes to the benefits that AI has to offer.

In a recent survey of over 750 business leaders, a significant proportion (30%) stated that they had piloted an AI solution for the first time since the pandemic hit; when organizations were asked if they planned to make AI investment a priority in 2021, this figure increases to 40%.

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Clearly, the pandemic has been a key enabler for the uptake of technologies that were once considered too expensive, or not yet accessible to the masses. And whether it is investing more of their budget in AI-bolstered communication platforms so that they can keep in touch with their colleagues, or automated chatbots to allow them to communicate with customers, this seems to be money well-spent.

As well as ensuring that businesses can operate safely and profitably while the world remains behind closed doors, the organizations employing AI solutions are finding themselves better off, with nearly two-thirds (61%) stating that AI-powered tech has boosted their bottom line. The research revealed that the majority (64%) of business leaders also feel more fulfilled given the ability to focus on more creative tasks, instead of number-crunching, which should be reason enough to keep the investment booming as the pandemic begins to fade.

A Change in Corporate Mentality

It seems unlikely that there would be a silver lining to the current circumstances, but if one is to be found, it is that the perception of fear around AI seems finally to have fallen away. Across the board, businesses seem positive about the benefits and opportunities that AI has to offer, with 66% stating that they have noticed a marked improvement in the way that their organization optimizes processes to become more efficient. Additionally, 63% saw their sales and marketing strategies enhanced by the deployment of AI, and a further 59% found their decision-making capabilities upgraded.

Gone are the days where workers were frightened about their job security and prospects in an increasingly automated workforce. Now, the general line of thought seems to be that jobs won’t disappear – they will simply change. We should expect this to entail a greater focus on soft skills and the inherently “human” capabilities that we often take for granted as digital natives.

As the jobs market begins to increasingly value workers with the capacity to interpret and analyze insights produced by AI, automation will remove many of the burdensome, labor-intensive tasks that most employees dread. The fact that 42% of businesses plan to hire new talent to deal specifically with AI in the next twelve months should inspire some confidence, as should the fact that half (48%) of organizations are planning to send staff for AI-related training.

Ultimately, the workforce is changing for the better. With any luck, as businesses continue to realize how accessible intelligent technologies are becoming, 2021 will be the year that AI finally becomes mainstream, and I look forward to seeing how both employers and employees do business when empowered by tech.

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