Harvey Mackay Academy's Blog

It seems like artificial intelligence is taking over the world, leaving many of us non-techies feeling terrified.

Yet when you stop to think about it, we all use artificial intelligence (AI) every day. When we Google something, use Siri on our smart phones or ask Alexa a question, we are using AI.

Wikipedia states artificial intelligence, sometimes called machine intelligence, is intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans. Colloquially, the term “artificial intelligence” is often used to describe machines (or computers) that mimic “cognitive” functions that humans associate with the human mind, such as “learning” and “problem solving.”

Hollywood has certainly featured AI in many movies from “The Terminator” series to “Robocop” and “I, Robot.” In “Minority Report” algorithms predict who is going to commit a crime, and the person is arrested before the crime is committed.

What we want to consider is not a fictional near future of robots taking over the world but a more pressing issue of jobs. According to a McKinsey report, 400-800 million jobs worldwide could be displaced by 2030 as a result of machines.

“The bigger concern with AI is that those who do not adapt and learn how to work alongside machines might be seen as obsolete in certain sectors,” said Susan Sly, co-CEO and co-founder of RadiusAI, which was just named a Top Ten Start-up in the highly competitive Phoenix tech market.

“As companies incorporate more artificial intelligence to streamline processes, enhance customer service, and automate tasks to reduce human error, everyone must embrace the technology that is already here, improve their skills, and learn to work in conjunction with AI and not fear it.”

AI is big business. Microsoft recently agreed to invest $1 billion in a partnership with the research group OpenAI, co-founded by Elon Musk and other wealthy Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. According to Bloomberg News, OpenAI will use Microsoft’s Azure cloud services to train and run the group’s AI software, and the two will jointly develop supercomputing technology.

Those are big players in any industry, to be sure, but how will AI benefit the rest of the business world?

According to the Harvard Business Review, 36% of executives say that their primary goal for incorporating AI is to optimize internal business operations. 84% of global business organizations believe that AI will give them a competitive advantage, says Statista.

A whopping 72% of execs believe that AI will be the most significant business advantage of the future, from a survey conducted by PwC (Pricewaterhouse Cooper).

Gartner, a global research and advisory firm, says by the end of 2019 start-ups will surpass the leading giants like Google, IBM, Microsoft and Amazon in driving the AI economy. By 2020, it is expected that AI will become a more integral part of the sales process for up to 30% of companies around the world.

Artificial intelligence will transform the relationship between people and technology. Our skills and creativity will be challenged and enhanced. Real and sustainable benefits to business transformation will be the end result.

Rather than fear these bold changes, consider this: The share of jobs requiring AI has increased by 450% since 2013, according to Adobe. Investment into AI startups by venture capitalists has soared six-fold since 2000. The number of AI startups since 2000 has increased 14 times, said an article in Forbes.

AI has enormous potential to affect the profitability of companies that find appropriate ways to use it.

Statista projects that global revenues from AI for enterprise applications is forecasted to grow from $1.6 billion in 2018 to 31.2 billion in 2025, growing at a compound annual growth rate of 52.6% in this seven-year period.

Global retail spending on AI will grow to $7.3 billion a year by 2022, up from $2 billion in 2018, says Juniper Research. This is because companies will invest heavily in AI tools that will help them differentiate and improve the services they offer customers.

And here’s a statistic that merits your attention: Approximately 61% of companies with an innovation strategy are using AI to identify opportunities in data that they would have otherwise missed, according to Narrative Science.

That’s a lot of data to absorb, but I think it’s a roadmap to the future. If all those numbers haven’t convinced you that artificial intelligence is a trend to be embraced rather than feared, you might be on the road to nowhere.

Mackay’s Moral: Businesses with the brightest futures are AI – all in – on AI.

About the Author

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.