As artificial intelligence (AI) permeates our lives, we look at four technologies making strides in the AI industry and the value they can bring to business.
The journey to a generalised artificial intelligence (AI) has been long – more than 80 years, in fact, as our timeline below shows. But the pace of change is suddenly increasing and every week there seems to be a new announcement on AI or automation.
As AI becomes ubiquitous – from Alexa and Siri at home, to semi-autonomous vehicles on the roads – more businesses are drawing on different types of machine learning and predictive intelligence.
It will be up to business leaders to identify ways of using it that enhance human expertise. CEOs will have to develop a vision for how AI can strengthen their organisation, whether for the creation of new products and services, the automation of key tasks or in improving customer experiences.
We've outlined four technologies, which run in parallel to wider business objectives, where AI and automation could add value – and perhaps even start your business's transition to a more AI-enabled world.
1 Supply chain efficiencies of autonomous delivery
While online shopping is evolving, the ‘last-mile delivery’ – from sorting office to front door – has seen less innovation. For any business with growing demand for deliveries and a lack of drivers, autonomous delivery is a notable new trend.
Kar-go is the brainchild of Zimbabwe-born entrepreneur, William Sachiti. It features an autonomous vehicle that can deliver multiple packages using a system of compartments that only open in the presence of the correct customer. And if no one is at home, it can come and find you if you're in the delivery catchment area.
2 Productivity savings with a corporate travel AI
TripActions is a corporate travel agency that claims to reduce the booking time taken by an average employee from one hour to just six minutes. Boasting a valuation of $4 billion, the four-year-old company works by predicting users’ travel preferences.
A combination of machine learning, data mining and predictive technology allows TripActions to comb through the past bookings of all staff. The service also keeps its automated eye on flight schedules and rebooks flights if timings change – handy if you need to get somewhere in time for a crucial meeting.
3 Precision processing by robots
Small Robot Company is a precision-farming tech startup with a range of three robots designed to offer the precision previously only feasible on very small plots to farms of all sizes.
Individual plants (rather than whole fields) are managed and maintained according to their needs, so there is less wastage and less environmental impact. As well as robots running on electricity, rather than vehicles using diesel, all the data generated is gathered and managed, drawing on machine learning and algorithms to deliver better yields and a healthier planet.
4 Back office management through business automation
It may not be the most high-profile aspect of AI, but robotic process automation (RPA), which uses technology to automate routine back-end processes, is the easiest way for many businesses to start deploying AI.
UK-based firm Thoughtonomy delivers this ability to companies in almost every sector of the economy, from financial services to retail. Its so-called virtual workforce replaces humans doing repetitive functions, boosting productivity and reportedly reducing human error by 100%.
Timeline of artificial intelligence
As AI becomes business critical, we've rounded up a modern history of artificial intelligence. Who – or what – will be on the future list of pioneering technologies?