Giovanni Miragliotta, Professor of Advanced Supply Chain Planning at MIP Politecnico di Milano, discusses where AI is expected to deliver the most impact
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is truly revolutionary, and its potential to enhance and extend the capabilities of humans, as well as its functions in helping businesses to achieve more, is exceptional. From minimising human error, to medical diagnosis and virtual reality, the future potential of AI is exciting and continuously developing.
Already within business, artificial intelligence is demonstrating a wide range of uses. Within marketing and sales sectors, introducing AI within their core business structures is helping to make decision-making processes and targeted campaigns much more efficient. For example, for marketing companies, AI is already being used to support them in running more personalised operations. In sales, these technological advancements can be used to identify key customers which will in turn increase company performance.
Within the Manufacturing industry, AI is also having an unprecedented effect. From decreasing time wasting, to improving the design of products, manufacturers are applying AI-powered analytics to data to improve productivity, product quality and health and safety. Also, as well as having an enormous effect within the design process and on the production floor, AI also improves the supply chain process and administration, meaning that the technology will continue to change the way we manufacture products and process materials to a huge extent.
Crucially, AI is also increasingly being used with great effect within health care industries. Firstly, and probably most significantly, is the fact that AI is improving the efficiency of the drug development process. As well as this, AI is also being used to support doctors with medical diagnosis and therapy recommendations, whilst also using real-time monitoring of signals collected from sensors on patients (e.g. ECG anomalies). Furthermore, robotics are being used to a great extent for rehabilitation purposes, for remote surgery, and for new-generation prostheses in the future; which of course is incredibly promising and exciting.
Within the area of HR and people management, AI is also proving to have a considerable impact. In the first instance, with the use of AI, recruiters may be better able to identify and hire the most suitable candidates in a much shorter time frame. Once hired, AI can also help to onboard the employee, as well as providing customized training, career development programs, and company coaching. This ensures consistency across the company, and ensures a certain level of training standards are met when hiring a new employee into an organisation.
Of course, online training and learning is also one of the greatest current uses of AI, in business and education alike. At MIP Politecnico di Milano, which is based in Milan, we have launched FLEXA, an AI learning platform which acts as a career coach for potential students, current cohorts and alumni networks. Developed in partnership with Microsoft, FLEXA analyses each individual’s background and career expectations, and suggests personalised materials to close skills gaps whilst promoting their profiles to recruiters. FLEXA allows participants to decide where and how to access their lesson material from anywhere in the world and with any device. This means that their learning fits round other commitments, whether that is work, family or recreational, and is part of the school’s wider digital strategy to use tech to enhance learning capabilities.
However, despite its benefits, there are of course various risks and pitfalls that businesses need to avoid as they continue to use AI across their enterprises. Firstly, it is crucial that those within an organization have sufficient knowledge of algorithms and computer technology within its business. In relation to this point, companies should therefore invest in their own people by planning necessary AI training, and hiring additional individuals with the correct methodological skills.
Furthermore, another pitfall that businesses need to try and avoid is the tension that builds amongst employees as a result of AI. This usually forms in companies due to the fear that the technology will replace certain tasks formerly operated by humans; to evade this, businesses need to have a clear strategy in order to reassure people that they will be given more interesting and fulfilling tasks and that they will be empowered by AI applications.
The future of AI is extremely promising. Extensive research and money is being invested into all aspects of AI and it is developing at a rapid pace. However, businesses and especially providers should be patient and should not be boosting over expectations, and should be realistic about how quickly it will become ingrained in the organizational structure. Indeed, AI will continue to bring relevant benefits to businesses, and if properly managed, will sustain the competitiveness of companies in traditional operations, as well as reinforcing their innovation capability.