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Analysis / Business

Can AI Benefit Your Business Or Is Tech Just For Show?

AI For Business

The tech machine moves from one segment to another, endlessly churning out products, white papers, hype cycles and fluffy press pieces to suggest businesses should add just one more thing to their IT shopping list. In reality, there are millions of companies around the world getting by with a collection of dusty old desktop tower PCs a few spreadsheets and Gmail accounts. If they can survive without the latest cloud service, an array of high-end tablets and an Internet of Somethings, then why should every other business yell “how high?” just because Microsoft, Apple, Salesforce or Cisco says “Jump!”

What Happened To Keep It Simple, Stupid?

Our suspicion is that most businesses can get by with whatever IT basics they need. But as they grow and develop, they hire people whose job it is to spend money, and those managers are really good at their jobs. Even better are the people whose role is to “scale” a business, which is MBA-speak for “make things more complicated.”

Between the two of them, CxOs or whatever they are called, their sales patter is generally the same. “Spend x thousand/million now, and we can save 5% over three years.” or “Invest in this and we can create a new business model generating huge profit!” And they pull the same trick year after year, moving from company to company.

So, each business adds more tech stuff, and people to run and manage it, and even the bosses start to lose count and sight of all the complexity, never mind those lofty goals of savings or profit. What’s worse, a lot of this IT is sold as “making business easier” or “seamless technology” and it’s only when a company has spent a fortune on it that they realise some type of scam is happening. But once they’ve spent all that money, what boss will admit it was all for nothing? Hello, anyone?

Is AI Really The Future?

Much of this tech-bullshit is ingrained in businesses that they just go with the flow. Being upsold a new cloud service here, the promise of a transformational paradigm there and a load of new hardware that’s way too powerful for their needs year-on-year.

So, why would anyone invest in AI? With the lure of automated decision making software, self-learning chatbots, or the chance to replace a lot of the boring tasks in a business with software robots? Unlike many white IT elephants, such as virtual reality, Ai systems like robotic process automation (RPA) are the evolution of existing processes, such as screen scrapers. And when a business finally realises it is drowning in data, the lifebuoy of an AI to sort through it sounds very tempting indeed.

RPAs like those from WorkFusion can help businesses take a positive approach to digitalisation, or whatever the bean counters are calling your latest initiative. They extract the maximum in savings and benefits from their data, while helping the company get on top of the growing amount of information.

A practical and proven tool is a better investment than spending a fortune on converting your business or department to a new operating system – how did that ever really help? It makes more sense than outsourcing work to unmotivated offshore workers, and it is certainly better than thinking, “hey, robotic burger flippers, that’ll work!”

So, while not every tech innovation is good for your business, or people, or even an innovation, there are quite a few that are worth investigating. And, only after a thorough analysis are some worth spending money on.

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Chris writes about augmented and virtual reality, chatbots, games and anywhere the miracle of technology will take us next.