Since 2009, South African organisations have invested R23.5 billion in artificial intelligence (AI). These are the findings of the AI Maturity Report in South Africa, commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by Ernst & Young, which was released in the middle of 2019.
According to the report, 46% of South African companies are actively piloting AI within their organisations. The report also highlights that AI pilots and experimentation are now prolific across South Africa and showcases that there is a willingness to embrace AI and experiment with it.
But few are embracing the full potential of artificial intelligence and leveraging it across their entire business operations. Here are a few business functions that may not come to mind when you first think about AI but that are geared to benefit from the opportunities and efficiencies it brings:
Marketing: Smart marketers are already using AI to enhance the customer journey. Some are using AI chat bots to drive leads and provide support. And when AI is incorporated into your company’s website, you can analyse hundreds of data points about each customer – from location and demographics to device and website interaction – and then use these insights to display the most appropriate or appealing offers and content.
Sales: Remember those leads we mentioned in the previous point? You can use AI tools to successfully target and rank leads based on their likelihood to actually turn into sales. Some AI solutions use bots to engage with the leads and others make sure you engage with every lead in a personalised way. Want better forecasting? Need prediction and improved customer communication? The strategic use of AI improves all of the above, which driving loyalty and repeat sales.
Human Resources: Artificial intelligence can save your key HR decision makers a lot of time. When using AI, HR no longer has to waste time sifting through CVs to shortlist potential candidates. AI will optimise this process by running relevant keyword-based searches based on the specifics of the job application. This makes candidate screening easier, more intelligent and largely data-driven.
Research and Development (R&D): Don’t forget that AI is a tool for innovation and makes your approach to R&D more strategic. Using AI, your business can develop a deeper understanding of your industry, your customers and your products by collecting and analysing enormous amounts of information. The insights derived from this analysis can then be used to conduct research and solve problems in creative and innovative ways.
Finance: By automating repetitive tasks, AI will give the employees in your finance team the freedom to focus on more high-level activities. AI is particularly effective in dealing with numbers, generating insights beyond human accuracy and can filter key information from a wide variety of sources.
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