AI indispensable for business success

AI and Machine Learning have revolutionised and will continue to revolutionise businesses for many years to come. Picture: File

AI and Machine Learning have revolutionised and will continue to revolutionise businesses for many years to come. Picture: File

Published Apr 24, 2023


Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become increasingly important in business due to its ability to help companies automate repetitive tasks, make business processes more efficient and improve decision-making processes.

It also enables companies to analyse large amounts of data, increase productivity and enhance the customer experience. Ultimately this can lead to a competitive advantage in the marketplace as we have seen from last week’s discussion of AI in operations, marketing, and sales.

AI and Human Resources

The Human Resource environment has changed dramatically since the Covid-19 pandemic. Although there are some exceptions, remote and hybrid working remained popular in many businesses. The new dynamics forced Human Resources to adapt and to use innovative solutions in virtual recruiting and the management of a more diverse workforce. AI is often at the centre of this growing use of smart technologies and platforms.

An area where AI is widely used, is e-recruitment. Recruiting can be time-consuming and resource-intensive work, involving multiple processes such as analysing resumes and matching credentials and qualifications. AI can make this process more efficient. Many companies have therefore invested in AI to help with the hiring process through the analysis of candidate profiles.

Using machine learning software, businesses can examine applications based on specific parameters. AI drive systems can scan job candidates' profiles, and résumés to provide recruiters an understanding of the talent pool they must choose from. AI also enables HR managers to analyse a potential candidate's past work experiences and interests and match them with the best roles.‍

Businesses also turned to Organisation Network Analysis to enable the company to become more sustainable and successful. AI can be used to analyse formal and informal relationships in the business, eventually assisting in the development of business strategies that increase the organic exchange of information.

One popular tool for e-recruitment is Ideal that uses AI to automate résumé screening and short-listing, helping businesses to identify the best candidates quickly and efficiently from a large applicant pool. AI screening software can also enrich candidates’ resumes by using public data sources about their prior employers as well as their public social media profiles.

AI and Customer support

The customer is key to the success of any business. Therefore a prompt reaction or solution to their problems is of the utmost importance to ensure positive online reviews. Dedicating resources to monitor customer messages and complaints across platforms and social media is money and time consuming.

This is where AI can be very useful since it can automatically assess customer messages. Specialised AI tools use advanced technologies to assess the content and to detect the tone and purpose of incoming messages from customers. Messages are thus categorised and sent to the appropriate team.

AI can also sift through hundreds of conversations with clients and leads to the tagging of urgent messages and trigger actions based on certain keywords indicating urgency. In the case of customer complaints, AI can pick up crisis-prone words or sentences like "I'll leave your business." When analysing leads, AI can recognise sentences like, "This offer sounds interesting," or "I'd like to buy next week" that may be an indication of a possible sale.

AI and Accounting

As has been mentioned before, AI is excellent in the automation of tedious activities, as well the advancement of accuracy and efficiency, and the uncovering of hidden trends. AI can automatically upload relevant files, read them, and classify them according to the appropriate accounting codes. Unlike human beings, AI never tires, rests or sleeps. Neither does it make errors typical to humans.

AI is, therefore, making inroads in accounting, especially in the performing of repetitive tasks or actions such as recording data, categorising transactions, reconciling accounts, entering and correlating data from scanned receipts and invoices to transactions, evaluating employee expense reports, and tracking pricing changes. AI perform all these tasks in less time and with less errors than human beings.

AI is also changing the managing of the payroll through the semi-automation of certain processes. The major benefit of AI systems is that it can analyse data, learn from failures, and even solve issues strategically. No wonder that businesses are increasingly investing in advanced AI-supported payroll systems running in the cloud.

AI and contact centres

Contact centres are extremely important in the determination of client loyalty. This is why efficient client service is of the utmost importance to a business. However, to ensure excellent service, a good understanding of the clients and their needs are needed. Since contact centres hold a wealth of data, it is a huge opportunity for AI to help business to better understand their clients.

AI is therefore, for example, often used during the running of an outreach campaign. In this case an AI voicebot is used to contact hundreds or even thousands of pre-categorised individuals to present and sell a specific product offering. The AI is also able to respond to simple questions, and can conclude the transaction or pass the query to a sales rep if it is unable to answer the question.

AI, social media management and sentiment analysis

In the modern business, sentiment analysis and social media monitoring have become indispensable tools to improve customer relations and marketing efforts. Analysing the sentiment behind customer comments and reviews on social media can provide businesses with a better understanding of their target audience and customers and how they perceive their products and services.

By further following social media conversations and tracking hashtags, businesses can get a good sense of what people are saying about their brand and also the industry in general. They can then use this information to adapt and improve their marketing efforts. If a business, for instance, notices that numerous customers are impressed with a specific feature of a product, they could emphasise the feature in marketing material and advertisements. However, if several customers are complaining about a specific product or service, the problem could be addressed in the product development and marketing efforts of the business.

Some of the many AI social media monitoring tools available are for example:

Brand24 is an AI-driven social media monitoring and analytics tool that helps businesses track and analyse online conversations about their brand. The tool tracks keywords across different social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, and Twitch, and allows businesses to track trends and identify key influencers.

BrandWatch is an all-in-one social media tool that manages content and campaigns across social media channels. It is a monitoring and analytics platform that helps businesses track and analyse online conversations about their brand. It also offers sentiment analysis and trend tracking capabilities and allows businesses to identify key influencers as well. However, BrandWatch does not only track social media, but can also publish and engage with customers on social media. BrandWatch is built to analyse data at scale and create insights using AI, statistics, and complex aggregations.

Hootsuite is a social media management platform that supports social network integrations for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and TikTok. A special AI content creation tools layer helps to address the unique challenge of coming up with and creating compelling posts on social media. In addition to its tools for social media scheduling, Hootsuite also offers sentiment analysis capabilities. It helps businesses track and analyse social media conversations and identify trends and key influencers.

AI has become an imperative

AI and Machine Learning have revolutionised and will continue to revolutionise businesses for many years to come. AI technologies have opened up numerous new opportunities for businesses of any size. In all areas of business AI is providing deep insights and helping businesses to become more efficient.

In a world where the use of AI for a variety of business functions is becoming the norm, it is time that large and even small businesses take advantage of AI and machine learning. By embracing these technologies, businesses will no doubt stay competitive and succeed in an increasingly data-driven market.

Professor Louis CH Fourie is an Extraordinary Professor in Information Systems University of the Western Cape.