Ever heard of the ‘Internet of things’? These days it’s the Internet of everything. According to Cisco, the Silicon Valley IT giant, there are now over 50 billion devices connected to the Internet — that’s over six devices for every person on earth. What’s more, this number is only going to increase as technology improves in the coming years.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is very much leading this charge. Once the preserve of Hollywood films, AI now influences multiple aspects of our lives. Over one in four Americans owns an Alexa — the household AI that does everything from telling you the news to organising your shopping list. Meanwhile, millions of iPhone owners use Siri to make calls and send messages without lifting a finger.

AI has spilt over into the business world too. Indeed, one could argue that businesses are driving our love affair with technology. Five of the six largest companies in the world — Microsoft, Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Alphabet — are tech juggernauts that use AI to make operational improvements and secure a competitive advantage. And now that smaller companies are jumping on the bandwagon too, it’s clear that the age of AI is very much upon us.

Here are five ways in which AI is already changing the business world.

1. Communications

Anyone who’s familiar with Zoom will know all about AISense, a feature that automatically transcribes video conferences. Meanwhile, Skype users frequently use Translator to automatically translate conversations between people speaking different languages. These popular applications, however, are just the tip of the iceberg.

Companies now use AI ‘chatbots’ to provide internal and external support. Whenever someone asks a simple question, the chatbots immediately offer an automated answer. What’s more, some chatbots learn on the job: they observe real customer service reps and learn which answers work effectively. If they can’t cope with a particular question then they simply forward the enquiry to the best placed human.

2. Training

AIs are also helping new employees and existing staff. First day on the job? No problem. There’s an automated response for every frequently asked question. AI’s can also actively teach employees. Take Cognito, the coaching system utilised by contact centres, for example.

Cognito’s sophisticated AI combines technology with behavioural science. It analyses voice signals in a caller’s voice and then suggests what employees should say; this gives them a tremendous advantage when trying to seal a sale or defuse a dispute. This ‘empathy assessment’ can help companies to build customer loyalty and improve retention rates.

3. Recruitment

The number of applicants applying for jobs can often be overwhelming. Thankfully, AI can help by pre-screening candidates, sifting the wheat from the chaff, and creating shortlists of suitable candidates in no time.

A number of impressive tools are already available. Some track candidates’ qualifications and experience to match employers and employees. Others use neuroscience to assess a candidate’s cognitive and emotional suitability for a role. Crucially, these technologies avoid subconscious race, gender, and demographic biases.

4. Security

Powerful AIs are also helping businesses in the battle against cyber crime. And it’s not just the banks. Companies are using very similar technologies to identify vulnerabilities and keep their data safe. Indeed, AIs can process millions of potential threats and neutralise them in ways that humans never could.

There are also physical security threats to deal with too. Terminator and Robocop-style AIs have already started to replace human security guards in the battle against trespassing and office theft. Science fiction enthusiasts’ fantasies are coming true.

5. Business efficiency

The greatest thing AI is doing for businesses, however, is increasing productivity. Deloitte’s LaborWise, for example, analyses employees’ performance, identifies problems, and discovers which departments need extra help. This creates a more effective and supported workforce.

New technologies can also boost efficiency by handling mundane tasks for HR and marketing staff. For example, they can act as personal assistants for multiple employees, manage calendars, and identify the best time for busy people to meet — thus saving countless emails back and forth.

Why AI and superfast broadband are inseparable

Although AI sometimes gets a bad press — armchair scientists frequently predict dystopian futures in which machines conquer mankind — automation will ultimately make businesses more profitable and create more jobs. This is because they allow employees to focus on the all-important strategic and creative tasks that only humans can do — like problem solving and building customer relationships.

The other good thing about AI, of course, is that all companies can benefit. All you need is a fast and reliable broadband connection — one reason why full fibre broadband is so appealing.

As businesses employ evermore sophisticated AIs in the quest for competitive advantages, the demand for super-fast broadband capable of running several cloud-based apps simultaneously will only increase. This is where we can help by ensuring you have the business connectivity you need both now and in the future.