Artificial Intelligence, better known as AI has made rapid progress in recent years. There is nothing wrong with saying that AI is the new Information Technology (IT) as AI-enabled tools and machine learning have made significant changes across the industry, making us more dependent than ever. The presence of AI can be felt everywhere around us, right from smart speakers and chat-bots to banks who are better able to decide whom to extend a loan to. Doctors are using AI to spot melanoma and recruiters are using it to find qualified candidates.
AI has huge potential to help managers make better decisions. It will have an important role in business operations including mergers and acquisitions, strategic planning, marketing, and design. The management students of today will see many significant changes in business operations in the coming times. Let’s explore some of the applications of artificial intelligence in management.
Strategic planning involves setting priorities and strengthening operations. Since it is a human decision making, it is subject to cognitive biases that can lead to suboptimal decisions. The future will see AI being used in multi-agent system, augmenting the cognition of management professionals in decision making.
AI-enabled decision making is better than human or software alone decision making. Let’s understand this with an example. IBM’s cognitive room, an immersive Watson driven exploration of IBM’s capabilities and solutions, supports decision making for mergers and acquisitions. It allows the decision-makers to effectively interact with a large amount of information using data visualisation, speech and gesture techniques that help to evaluate options for mergers and acquisitions.
AI has been gaining significant traction in product marketing because of its potential to improve marketing efficiencies and outcomes. AI can measure customer sentiments and track their buying habits. This information is being used by brands and advertisers to make e-commerce more intuitive. The future revolves around AI. It will be used to create personalised communications to customers and other prospects and also, to better understand how to match content to target users.
New technologies of deep learning have the capability of not only to analyse data but also, to synthesize it, which, enables learning from existing products and utilise this learning to generate new ideas for products. This AI capability is already being used to create digital work like content for marketing campaigns. This trend of applying AI for generative tasks will continue and expand.
AI has already benefited several key management functions including human resources, recruitment and decision making. IBM Watson, a talent solution, is working as an employee and management assistant which offers deeper human engagement and cognitive operations. It offers key insights from a wide web of knowledge in the enterprise that assists both the management and employees.
Australia’s largest energy company, Woodside, has utilised IBM Watson to retain the knowledge of experts and make it possible for employees to easily learn from it. About 80% of employees who adopted Watson, reported previously spending more than three-quarters of their time in researching problems and less than one-quarter of the time in actually fixing it. Watson has helped Woodside reverse the situation.
A start-up like Veracitiz Solutions works with decision-makers across domains to enhance brand loyalty and transform the customer and employee experience leveraging IBM Watson services. The AI-infused predictive and prescriptive solutions enable organizations to solve their complex business problems around Demand Forecasting, Customer analytics, Resource optimization, and Strategy Management.
These are only a few examples of applications of AI in business. The future will see AI being used in all business operations. This would require future managers and present management students to approach AI in the following ways:
•Understand what AI is
•Be aware of the AI tide and not to become complacent
•Test the black box data as it may be interesting, but could be dangerous as well. It could lead to false links between correlation and causation
•Know where you have an edge over AI
•Stay updated on emerging trends
Ultimately, AI in business operations boosts the intelligence of managers. If management students want to make themselves indispensable to their organisation, they must harness AI and make it indispensable to themselves.
Dr. Jitendra K. Das is Director, FORE School of Management, New Delhi. His research areas
include Environmental Marketing, Internet Marketing, Technology enabled Customer Relations,
CRM, and Customer Analytics.
(The author is Dr Jitendra K Das, Director FORE School of Management)