HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey. C3PO in Star Wars. The Borg in Star Trek. Agent Smith in The Matrix. Artificial intelligence characters have either helped or tried to rule humans in the movies for years.

We are living in a time when AI is now very real and increasingly a part of our daily lives — so much for science fiction. Robots aren’t exactly taking over, but search engine algorithms and digital assistants like Alexa and Siri are pervasive in our daily lives.

First, what is artificial intelligence, or AI? And how will it transform the business landscape? Artificial intelligence’s most basic definition is: technology that thinks and learns like a human being.

How artificial intelligence is changing business — 7 areas of impact

There are seven major areas where AI is already making a big impact on business: research and analytics, marketing, customer service, security, hiring, financial trading, and operations, here’s a high-level overview of each…

Research and analytics

Most of us can’t afford a full-time data scientist. But according to Jurgen Himmelman of The Global Work & Travel Co., as quoted by Scott Gerber for TNW (The Next Web), “with AI you can have access to powerful insights on your consumer and marketing data for a fraction of the cost involved… You don’t have to be skilled in analytics to find the information you need.”


Demand for highly personalized, relevant buying experiences has increased, and companies that don’t keep pace with consumers’ expectations will fall short. Here are just a few of the ways artificial intelligence is (or soon will) make an impact on digital marketing:

  • Chatbots: A chatbot is a computer program that automates certain tasks, often “chatting” with a user in a conversational manner. This frees up businesses to focus on a better overall experience on their websites. Think of the times when you’ve chatted with a customer service rep on a website. There’s a good chance you were communicating with a bot, not a human being.
  • Content: Rather than creating one-size-fits-all content, marketers will use AI to create highly-tailored messaging. For example, solutions like Optimizely allow marketers to create different versions of the same website, and then change the content on demand, based on their source (AdWords campaign, Google search, or geographic area).
  • Predictive lead scoring: Email marketing, social media marketing and SEO will all benefit from the intelligent analysis that would not be possible without the power of artificial intelligence. For example, predictive lead scoring will use data that includes a mix of demographic and behavioral data to predict how likely a lead will be to turn into a sale. This will allow marketers to focus their efforts on their most qualified prospects.

Customer relations and customer service

CRM designers are seeing AI as key to meeting soaring consumer expectations for fast, frictionless interactions that anticipate their preferences and needs. “The focus will be on making machine learning intense so that it appears more human for better engagement and successful deals,” says Liam Martin in Gerber’s article.


Compromise of personal privacy is scary. The upside of software that collects data on individual human characteristics is that it can reliably identify when someone is not you, thus protecting your identity. Plus, cybersecurity threats change so fast that it’s hard for humans to stay ahead of them. “Techniques like generative adversarial networks can learn from what’s happening and react to attacks in real time,” writes Tom Merritt for Tech Republic.


Algorithms are already being used to filter resumes and job applications before employers decide who to interview. Currently, too often well-qualified applicants are filtered out because they fell short on certain keywords in their resumes. Thankfully, artificial intelligence makes finding the right candidate a more intelligent, data-driven process, writes Tania Rahman for IBM.

Financial trading

Securities trading decisions can be aided by AI that identifies patterns and creates strategies accordingly. A few AI-based hedge funds already exist, according to Gerber’s article. Rahman reports that artificial intelligence can also identify rogue traders seeking to make fraudulent transactions and sound the alert.


Self-driving vehicles rely on AI for object detection, identification, and avoidance, says Rahman. This application isn’t limited to the road. It’s already in use with forklifts and drones in warehouse management. She says converting paperwork to digital data without being tied to scanning will also be possible through artificial intelligence. After an application captures data, it will analyze it in order to trigger appropriate workflow steps.

AI terms explained in plain English

Language used in discussing artificial intelligence is important, but oftentimes it’s helpful to break down into plain English. Here are some simple definitions you might appreciate as much as we do:

Machine learning: the design of systems that can learn from and make decisions and predictions based on data, rather than being programmed to carry out a certain task. Machine learning programs are also designed to learn and improve over time when exposed to new data.

Deep learning: a category of machine learning that often uses Artificial Neural Networks to generate models. Deep Learning techniques, for example, have been very successful in solving Image Recognition problems due to their ability to pick the best features, as well as to express layers of representation.

Natural language processing: a method to translate between computer and human languages. The ultimate goal of NLP is to build software that will analyze, understand, and generate human languages naturally, enabling communication with a computer as if it were a human. Examples of NLP include Siri, Alexa, and Google Home.

Computer vision: a field of computer science that works on enabling computers to see, identify, and process images in the same way that human vision does, and then provide appropriate output. The computer must interpret what it sees, and then perform appropriate analysis or act accordingly.

Strong AI: an artificial intelligence construct that has mental capabilities and functions that mimic the human brain. Strong AI is more of a philosophy than an actual approach to creating AI. Strong AI holds that there is no essential difference between AI and the actions of a human brain, including its power of understanding and even consciousness. Strong AI is also known as full AI.

Can you envision ways AI will help your business?

We’d love to hear your comments below!