Even though Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been around as an academic and scientific discipline since the 1950s, the proponents of AI have never been as hopeful as they are in the present times. It’s needless to mention that the current surge in AI research, investment and real business applications is unprecedented. Market Intelligence firm IDC in their New IDC Spending Guide, September 19, 2018, predicted that the worldwide spending on cognitive and Artificial Intelligence systems would reach $77.6B by 2022. Similarly, Gartner projects the business value created by AI at $3.9T by 2022.
While the philosophical debate on the ethical concerns around AI continues in several circles, we have seen myriad business applications of AI. These applications do not just have the promise to yield better business results but improve the human experience as a whole.
Here, we’re going to have a look at the nine significant industries that are going to be benefited by AI applications in the near future. But first, let’s quickly ensure that we are dealing with the most current understanding of what is artificial intelligence.
American computer scientist and cognitive scientist John McCarthy, who coined the term in 1956, defines AI as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines.” According to the Science Daily journal, the AI is defined as “the study and design of intelligent agents where an intelligent agent is a system that perceives its environment and takes actions which maximize its chances of success.”
In simple terms, it translates to the ability of a computer or a computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings, generally humans. As a result, it demonstrates characteristics such as the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalize, or learn from experience.
Now, let’s take a look at the applications of AI in some of the major industries, not necessarily in order of merit.
Here are some of the significant AI applications disrupting major industries
The entry of the technology giants like Microsoft, Google, Apple and IBM in the healthcare sector holds significant importance for the industry. AI is currently being applied for a range of healthcare needs, including data mining for identifying patterns and then carrying out the more accurate diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions, medical imaging, medication management, drug discovery and even robotic surgery.
A case in point in this regard is the application of IBM Watson (an AI tool) to derive the meaning and context of a set of structured and unstructured data that might be critical for selecting a treatment plan, and then analyze the patient’s medical record to identify a potential treatment plan. In other words, IBM Watson functions like a human doctor.
Similarly, a platform called Artificial Intelligence for Drug Discovery (AIDD), developed by the biopharma company NuMedii leverages big data and AI to detect the link between diseases and drugs at the systems level.
2. Retail and E-commerce
Retail and E-commerce is perhaps the only space where the application of AI is the most discernible to the majority of end-users. Being a competitive space, organizations are always looking out for techniques to find patterns in consumer behavior and thereby align their strategy to outsmart their competitors.
AI has certainly found a sweet spot in the entire scheme of things. The product recommendations on your Amazon account are nothing but a real-time application of complex AI algorithms to determine which products you are more likely to buy.
AI applications are also increasingly being used to enhance the customer experience. For example, many of the chatbots available on websites are powered by AI and programmed to provide instant answers to a range of common customer queries.
3. Food Tech
AI has found applications in unpredictable areas. Have you ever thought of a robot preparing your cup of tea? Well, Hi Arya, a food-tech company, in collaboration with LeewayHertz, has built a robotic tea maker based on AI and IoT capabilities. The smart tea maker enables users to create their own recipe from a web interface, mobile app, and the machine itself.
Essentially, users place the order for their cup of tea using the web interface, machine, or mobile app. As soon as a user places an order, the machine starts preparing the tea and the user can enjoy live-feed feature to watch their tea being prepared.
Similarly, AI development has touched the industrial food processing sector as well. For instance, a firm named Tomra Systems ASA has developed AI-based food sorting equipment targeting the french fries, peeled potatoes, and the diced and ground meat market. Tomra’s food processors can help food-processing companies automate food analysis tasks such as measuring the size, shape, and color of french fries or analyzing the fat content in meat.
In the agriculture space, a firm named Sentient is leveraging AI to analyze the effects of variables such as UV light, salinity, heat, and water on basil. Armed with the data, they are developing the methods to raise the perfect crops.
AI applications have also made inroads into the farming sector in that we already see a surge in the use of intelligent tractors and intelligent plucking machines.
4. Banking and Financial Services
The Banking and Financial Services industry is undergoing a massive transformation due to the onset of AI applications. AI uses cases in this space are plenty. In many scenarios, human agents are being replaced by intelligent software robots for processing loan applications in fractions of a second. Similarly, Robo-financial advisors are sifting through multiple levels of data in split seconds to recommend the right investment decisions for customers.
These Robo-advisors can also analyze your social media activity, emails and other personal data to identify the sectors and companies aligned to your long term needs and objectives.
Furthermore, AI-based chatbots are being deployed in the Insurance sector to improve the customer experience and create insurance plans and products based on customers’ data. The use of AI-based software has also significantly reduced the claim processing time, thus helping both the insurance companies and customers.
Another important application of AI in the finance sector is fraud detection. For instance, Mastercard uses AI-based Decision Intelligence technology to detect fraudulent transactions by analyzing various data points.
5. Logistics and Transportation
The logistics and transportation industry is on the verge of an AI-infused revolution. The use of machine learning and predictive analytics has already transformed supply chain management, making it a seamless process. Many warehouses use AI-powered robots for sorting and packaging products in warehouses. Furthermore, AI algorithms are also being increasingly used to find the quickest shipment route and support the last-mile delivery.
In the transportation industry, self-driving vehicles will undoubtedly be the next big thing. Although still in the research and trial stage, AI-based self-driving will potentially replace manual driving and make driving on roads safer. Tesla, Uber, Volvo and Volkswagen are at the forefront of this research.
Research is also underway to leverage AI algorithms to optimize public transport for scheduling and routing, and even traffic light management.
The travel industry is set to derive significant benefits from AI riding on the widespread use of chatbots. Chatbots are a proven means for improving customer service and engagement mainly because of their 24*7 presence and instant resolution of queries.
Advanced AI algorithms are powering chatbots with increased efficiencies, enabling them to provide more accurate responses to customer queries. Many large travel organizations are turning to AI companies to build their own AI-based mobile apps and chatbots for improving the customer experience.
Furthermore, machine learning and predictive analytics help travel companies increase their conversion rates by identifying customer behavior and purchasing patterns.
7. Real Estate
The application of AI in the real estate industry is opening new opportunities for agents, brokers and clients alike. While agents are becoming more efficient and effective, brokers are getting more strategic and consumers are feeling empowered. AI-powered bots help brokers and agents find the perfect match for people looking to buy, rent or sell their properties.
Also, AI-based chatbots operate 24*7 and help real estate website visitors find answers to their queries even during the odd hours.
8. Entertainment and Gaming
Making an entry into the entertainment industry, AI is helping program producers and broadcasters identify which shows or programs to recommend to individual users based on their activity. It helps Netflix and Amazon provide a more personalized experience to users.
Machine Learning algorithms are widely being used to study user behavior and such algorithms are becoming more intelligent with time, to the extent that they can determine whether a user wants to purchase a product for themselves or gifting purposes, or whether family members have different watching preferences.
In the film industry, AI is being employed to enhance digital effects in movies, to save cost and speed up the pre and post-production process. For instance, Natural Language Processing (NLP) is used to structure a script for storyboarding, or data is used to arrive at an optimal schedule for filming.
AI is also being experimented for developing creative content. For example, IBM Watson was used to create the trailer for the movie Morgan, released in 2016.
In the music industry, large companies like Apple and Spotify employ AI to understand users’ engagement patterns and recommend the right music to the right people and at the right time. In music production, the AI-driven computer accompaniment technology enables a machine to compose real-time music in response to the performance of a live musician.
The gaming industry was one of the early adopters of AI and its impact on the user experience has been profound. Among several applications in gaming, AI is used to control the actions of non-player characters (NPC) that play a role in advancing the game’s storyline in a specific direction. AI-driven behavior modeling of such characters greatly enhances the gamer’s experience in the overall storyline.
It is beyond doubt that the manufacturing industry is leading the way in the application and adoption of AI technology. In manufacturing, AI is being employed across several lines and layers of operations, from workforce planning to product design, thus improving efficiency, product quality and employee safety.
In factories, machine learning and artificial neural networks are employed to support predictive maintenance of critical industrial equipment, which can accurately predict asset malfunction. It helps the management take timely measures to restore the equipment and prevent costly unplanned downtime.
Robots are an integral part of the production process. The majority of industrial robots are often stationary yet in danger of crashing into nearby objects. The use of AI in robotics has heralded the concept of collaborative robots or “cobots” that can take instructions from humans and work productively alongside them.
In quality control, AI algorithms are being used to notify manufacturing units of potential production faults that can lead to product quality issues. Faults can include deviations from processes, subtle anomalies in machine behavior, change in raw materials, and so on.
As AI evolves to the next level, it is increasingly taking the lead as the single most significant driving force for technology transformation. We are part of the age where machines are starting to understand and anticipate what users want or likely to do in the future. It has enabled endless possibilities and what we’ve seen till date or could speculate for the future comprise a minuscule part of the broader capabilities of AI.
Healthcare, pharmaceutical research, retail, marketing, finance and intelligent process automation are some of the sectors that will see the fastest AI investment growth in the next five years.
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