The impact of Artificial Intelligence on business processes

Discover how Artificial Intelligence is impacting business processes, enhancing human capabilities, and augmenting jobs

One research on the economic impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) conducted by Accenture, reveals that AI could double annual economic growth rates by 2035. Even more, the impact of AI on businesses is projected to increase labor productivity by up to 40 percent, and enable people to work more productively and make more efficient use of their time.

We already see some real-life benefits for the early-adopting companies, making them disruptors in their industries - pushing innovation, productivity, while decreasing cost and increasing profits. Led by tech companies, AI adoption is growing rapidly. More and more non-tech companies are embedding AI in their business processes. One key challenge that we see is including these new technologies in current business processes. The introduction of this new technology actually forces companies to adapt and review their processes. Let’s take a look at the impact AI can have on business processes, and how AI can help companies grow in today’s increasingly competitive markets.

AI: a new element in business processes

The paradox of AI

One paradoxical fact is that on the one hand, AI can perform very complex tasks at scale (think about how AI is superior to humans in predictive analytics or in document automation), but on the other hand, AI is very specialized in performing specific tasks (an AI model will be specialized in predicting sales, but you will need another AI model if you need to detect anomalies or analyze customer feedbacks).

Consequence on jobs

Therefore, an AI solution will not replace entire jobs but do rather change the way humans perform tasks and perform their jobs. Organizations and people have to be able to interact and learn with these new tools that do not work as traditional software. The symbiosis between humans and AI can only lead to the so-called third wave of business transformation, involving adaptive processes.

How AI is augmenting human capabilities

A wide misconception is that Artificial Intelligence will slowly replace humans. Although AI can be deployed to automate certain tasks, a research by Paul R. Daugherty and H. James Wilson (authors of the book Human + Machine: Reimagining work in the age of AI) found that AI’s greatest power is in complementing and augmenting human capabilities.

The human-machine interaction can lead to more amplification, interaction, and embodiment. Let’s look at this typology in more detail below.

  • Amplification: In the case of amplification, AI can give humans more data-driven insights, based on past and real-time data. For example, pharma companies are using AI to monitor the quality control of their pharmaceutical drugs after they have been released. Radiologists are using AI to better understand the information from X-rays, organize patient health data in an easy-to-see format, and provide patients with better diagnosis.

  • Interaction: In the case of interaction, AI can employ advanced interfaces like voice-driven or natural language processing, to ease interaction between people on behalf of people. Some examples include personal assistants like Siri or Alexa, and/or customer support bots.

  • Embodiment: In the case of embodiment, AI can be combined with sensors, monitors, and actuators - and allow for robotics to engage together with humans in physically collaborative work. Some examples include small drones that can deliver medicine, and package-carrying robots for warehouses and factory floors.

How companies have to adapt

In practice, companies that will be able to adapt and generate value from AI in the long-term will be the ones that go beyond the development and piloting and the technology, and are able to embed the new tools in their process in a sustainable way.

Practically, this means that either users or companies will have to be able to :

  • Understand how an AI solution works;

  • Understand why it can be helpful, and think of using it when relevant;

  • Understand its possible limitations;

  • Assess and take decisions based on a recommendation of an AI solution;

  • Explain their decision based on an AI model;

  • Adapt their business processes.

The future is collaborative

AI is not only super-powering employees, but it also brings an opportunity for businesses to rethink themselves.

As certain tasks move from humans to machines and AI, collaborative working with AI assistance can only unlock an opportunity for different kinds of work.

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