AI is fast becoming an everyday part of how business functions. From financial services to manufacturing, transport to retail, a vast swathe of industries are feeling the effects of the first wave of automation. Inevitably, these developments come with the age-old fear that we will be ousted from jobs by technology. That, however, is a misapprehension; AI is a gift that will (and already is) alleviating people from mundane and repetitive tasks, elevating human labour to roles to which our social, creative and cognitively-rich species is more suited.
Global GDP, according to research by PwC, will be 14% higher by 2030 as a direct result of AI (the equivalent of an additional USD 15.7 trillion). In Northern Europe alone, the GDP impact is predicted at 9.9% ($1.8 trillion). AI is, quite simply, the biggest commercial opportunity in the global economy.
At present, AI is still at the early stages of development and implementation overall. This is, therefore, a land of golden opportunity. There are significant opportunities for emerging markets to transcend currently more advanced counterparts. Crucially for investors, we are at a stage in which some startups, and businesses that are still yet to be founded, will soon become massive market leaders.
AI at onefourzero
By 2022, 62% of search and data processing tasks will be managed by machines, according to RingCentral. At onefourzero, we are already ahead of the curve. AI is integral to the work we do. We use it to clean and combine data from multiple sources, giving us much larger, robust datasets to work with.
With these deep and far-reaching datasets, we are able to use algorithms to spot correlations, often correlations that were previously undetectable by the limits of the human eye. The results allow us to answer complex questions, such as whether changes in pricing – for example – drive changes in customer conversations on the topic. Comprehensive price scraping here, set against data gathered from online conversation analysis, reveals clear answers.
Online conversation is assessed and quantified through the use of Natural Language Processing (NLP) which allows us to group conversations into topics (e.g. customer service, pricing, etc.) and thereafter assign sentiment to these conversations.
In combining the above, our AI enables us to uncover how sentiment is driven. Using the example above, this could be an analysis of what factors are driving negative conversation about customer service, for instance.
Our use of predictive modelling allows us to assess the impact of investment in particular channels, based on historic changes in website sales (for example), and how those changes have historically impacted metrics, such as on- and off-line sales.
AI Across Industries
Beyond the integral role of AI in digital due diligence, such as that used at onefourzero, we are also seeing AI taking on powerful decision-making in financial, industrial and customer service roles. For example, artificial intelligence systems are already responsible for assessing loan applications, identifying fraud in insurance claims, and in hedge fund trading.
In industrial settings, predictive maintenance systems that utilise IoT devices wired to a central AI system, are able to accurately monitor and predict when elements of the infrastructure will be in need of repair, pre-empting any urgent jobs or emergencies before they occur. In manufacturing, AI is increasingly being used in conjunction with sophisticated robotics, with ‘smart’ robots able to adjust their functionality on a task-by-task basis. On the factory floor, notably in automotive manufacturing, this is a hugely cost- and time-saving transformation that means no overhaul in infrastructure each time a new model of vehicle is to be produced.
In retail, AI is set to have a dramatic impact on both retailers and consumers. It will allow enormous possibilities for personalisation and customisation of products and services, a real boon for consumers, who are increasingly demanding more tailored items. For product retailers and manufacturers, it means vast savings in overheads from excess inventory and other factors that arise from mass production. Retailers that enlist the power of AI to deconstruct consumer data and tailor marketing and product offering to individuals will thrive as the AI transformation marches on.
Data and AI: A Match Made in Heaven
Of course, the AI transformation we are, as a society, undergoing now, would not be possible without data. Data is, after all, what AI feeds on. Without it, AI simply does not work. The last decade and a half has seen monumental transformation in the way that we are able to collect, store and use data. However, whilst the majority of companies across industries are very keen to harness the power of AI to make the most of that data, yet are not enlisting the infrastructure needed in order to do so. Those which take the leap and invest in continuous learning systems will prosper, while those which do not will quickly be left behind.
Clearly, this means opportunities for investment in AI infrastructure across all your portfolio companies is key to ensuring their prosperity and a sizeable exit price. Equally, startups and companies that produce AI systems are ripe for picking, with plenty more growing to fruition at a rapid pace. This is a golden time for investors that wish to set their sights on the future.