While artificial intelligence (AI) adoption is on the rise, many companies continue to look for the optimal ways to harness its power. To achieve this, AI adopters in 2020 will likely focus on proven, cost-effective implementations that can help them improve their processes and grow their business.
Unlike enterprises with huge budgets, many companies don’t have the resources to build and maintain complex AI infrastructures and hire dedicated IT teams. However, AI can be useful on a smaller scale, and in 2020, even small and medium-sized businesses can turn to AI as an effective technology for automating and streamlining existing processes.
After all, when your competitors are talking about AI, it’s hard not to join in, especially when your profit and your market share can be at stake. Still, it’s important to separate the hype surrounding AI from the actual implementations of machine learning or deep learning that have proven themselves efficient.
Despite the tremendous potential of AI, the correlation between business gains and AI adoption has been a fuzzy one for many companies in 2019. Last year, AI was often used experimentally. What’s more, many companies still have to figure out how to measure the deep impact that it can have on ease of use and customer satisfaction to fully grasp its value.
In 2020, more companies and organizations will understand that AI is not magic or hype but complex math. As a result, they will invest more time and resources into creating the right processes and infrastructures for AI to work to their advantage. Companies with Chief Data Officers are likely to be at the forefront of AI implementation.
So, what are some of the ways that AI can drive the evolution of software and hardware in 2020? Let’s look at some possible use cases for one of the world’s most exciting technologies.
More Applications Integrate Support for Voice Commands
Voice usage across applications will be on the rise. More apps will become voice-first or develop support for voice commands. In a dynamic, hands-free world, it’s only natural for people accustomed to Siri or Alexa to want to tell the apps they use every day what to do.
In competitive markets, brands that lag behind implementing voice support in their apps could lose ground to their competitors—outdated apps already have a hard time surviving. Ultimately, the continuous progress of natural language processing (NLP) will drive the emerge of next-gen voice-enabled applications.
AI Could Start Being Built Right into Chipsets
AI in chipsets could open up an exciting new era for computing. AI chips can improve visual data processing at the source, helping to create simple and more reliable AI products and devices. Smart chips could be added to vehicles, cameras, computer devices, and more. If they become widely available, AI chips could represent one of the single most important developments in the evolution of AI. Even 2020 won’t see the mainstream use of AI chips, it could mark the beginning of a new age for chips.
Augmented Intelligence Makes the Workplace More Efficient
AI could augment human efforts in the workplace, identifying important content and providing smarter recommendations. In a world where content overload is a major problem, this application of AI could find especially fertile ground in the digital workplace.
Whether it comes as addons to Office or Adobe programs, or new, standalone products, AI used in this way could pave the way for the wider use of augmented intelligence in offices.
Improved Customer Experiences in Retail
AI will help stores and service providers to refine and improve the user experience they provide online and in brick and mortar stores. AI-based data processing available either through software as a service or custom software could help retailers distill more customer data into actionable recommendations, offers, and suggestions.
You can expect AI to play an increasingly important role in retailers’ attempts to offer a more personalized shopping experience.
Voice-Based Assistants Pop Up in Stores
Voice-based shopping assistants could make AI a useful presence in major chain stores. These assistants could help the staff provide a better service during busy hours, which could translate to higher customer satisfaction. The hardware and software costs of bringing these assistants to stores could decrease.
B2B Businesses Embrace AI
AI will help B2B companies optimize their sales and services. It could play an especially important role in need identification and matching, helping businesses put their customer data to better use.
B2B businesses that handle large sets of data could benefit the most from successful AI implementations as the technology could help them reduce costs in the long term.
Small Businesses Get Chatty
More small and medium-sized businesses will start using AI-enhanced chatbots. Chatbots may not replace customer support teams anytime soon, but they are excellent at providing instantaneous answers to common problems and offer relevant shopping suggestions.
2019 was the year when many retailers added chatbots to their websites, and in 2020 this trend will expand to smaller businesses. Chatbots can contribute to a faster customer support experience. That’s something that neither startups nor understaffed small businesses can ignore.
Routine Optimization Apps and Tools Get Better with AI
From GPS navigation and shipping routes to warehouse routes for order picking, AI could help companies save time and increase their fuel efficiency. A technology that’s already been implemented in Google Maps and other mapping solutions is bound to get more accurate and more effective in 2020.
AI Spurs on the Emergence of Cashier-less Stores
In 2020, cashier-less stores could pop up in more locations. Amazon Go already offers an enticing example to retailers, allowing customers to shop for products without waiting in line or scan products or make payments.
However, creating this type of store calls for effective software systems, and that’s not something that every retailer can afford to implement on a large scale.
Hyper Automation Gains Momentum
AI will speed up hyper-automation. AI is already being used to automate processes across industries, but in 2020 companies will likely push this further, allocating more resources to machine learning technologies to both eliminate and speed up human labor on boring, repetitive tasks. From data labeling to product sorting, hyper-automation will find its way into offices and warehouses alike.
AI Drives the Growth of the Internet of Things (IoT)
While IoT has gained a stronger foothold in 2019, it’s not yet in every home or on every office floor that could benefit from it. But AI can enable software developers to use the capabilities built into smart home and office appliances to create a better user experience that requires less interaction than before.
With AI, IoT developers can use triggers and voice commands more effectively. At the same time, they can help IoT providers of hardware and software process the huge amount of data their products generate. The value of that data could renew many companies’ interest in the IoT world.
AI Becomes More Important for the Automotive World
AI will keep making cars smarter and possibly safer. While 2020 may not be the year when self-driving cars will take the market by storm, you can expect voice technology, assisted driving, and other AI-powered technologies to make new cars smarter without dramatically increasing their cost.
The Edge Cloud Experiences Massive Growth
The edge cloud service market could grow by 50% this year, according to Forrester. Cloud-only AI solutions are not always cost-effective, nor do they provide real-time interaction with data that many enterprises need. The edge cloud, with its local machine learning capabilities, could offer businesses a viable alternative, though implementing it won’t be cheap.
AI Provides More Valuable Marketing Insights
Retailers will rely more on AI as a source of marketing insights. AI as a marketing analysis tool will likely become more affordable and easier to implement. It could give customer data a bigger dimension as it can empower businesses to process data from multiple channels faster than ever before. That’s not to say retailers will give up on studies or surveys.
Inventory Management Gets AI Forecasts and Automation
AI could help businesses manage their inventory and locations better by reducing human errors and providing more accurate forecasts. Inventory management systems with built-in AI capabilities could become more prevalent in 2020, helping small businesses maintain healthier inventory levels and streamline their ordering process.
Search Engine Optimization Gets an AI Boost
AI could help enhance search engine optimization (SEO) tools, by automating meta descriptions or redirects. Technical SEO remains essential for all websites that want to rank highly in Google and other search engines, yet it’s often a repetitive and time-consuming process. This is especially true for big eCommerce stores, content aggregators, and other sites with many pages.
AI-enhanced SEO and marketing tools have already hit the market, but in 2020 they could see more mainstream use.
2020 will be an interesting year for the evolution of AI. Rather than replacing human intelligence, AI could augment it and help people automate repetitive tasks, reduce errors, generate more accurate predictions, and ultimately, simplify their lives.
Even if AI software developers will be limited in their implementation of AI by the computing power available to them, they will still have a potent technology on their hands with many possible applications across IT systems, mobile devices, applications, and custom software.
In the end, even if you won’t be commuting to work in a self-driving car this year, you can expect many incremental improvements in AI that will make themselves felt both at work and in your day-to-day life. AI may not revolutionize the world just yet, but it can make all sorts of processes more efficient. And for that reason alone, being an AI adopter this year could be a wise and, in the long run, profitable decision.