Main image of article Here's How Companies are Using A.I., Machine Learning

Companies widely expect that artificial intelligence (A.I.) and machine learning will fundamentally change their operations in coming years. To hear executives talk about it, apps will grow “smarter,” tech stacks will automatically adapt to vulnerabilities, and processes throughout organizations will become entirely automated.

Given the buzz around A.I., it’s easy for predictions to easily slip into the realm of the fantastical (“In less than six months, we’ll have cars that drive themselves! And apps that predict what a user wants before they want it!”). It’s worth taking a moment to see what companies are actually doing with A.I. at this juncture.

To that end, CompTIA recently asked 400 companies about their most common use-cases for A.I. Here’s what they said:

“The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation and changed how we work,” Khali Henderson, Senior Partner at BuzzTheory and vice chair of CompTIA’s Emerging Technology Community, wrote in a statement accompanying the data. “We learned—somewhat painfully—that traditional tech infrastructure doesn’t provide the agility, scalability and resilience we now require. Going forward, organizations will invest in technologies and services that power digital work, automation and human-machine collaboration. Emerging technologies like AI and IoT will be a big part of that investment, which IDC pegs at $656 billion globally this year.”

That predictive sales/lead scoring would top this list makes a lot of sense—if companies are going to invest in A.I., they’re likely to start with a process that can provide a rapid return on investment (and generate a lot of cash). According to CompTIA, A.I. helps with “more effective prioritization of sales prospects via lead scoring and provides detailed, real-time analytics.” It’s a similar story with CRM/service delivery optimization, where A.I. can help salespeople and technologists better identify potential customers and cross-selling opportunities. 

Companies have spent years working on chatbots and digital assistants, hoping that automated systems can replace massive, human-powered call centers. So far, they’ve had mixed results; the early generations of chatbots were capable of conducting simple interactions with customers, but had a hard time with complex requests and the nuances of language. The emergence of more sophisticated systems like Google Duplex promises a future in which machines effectively chat with customers on a range of issues—provided customers can trust interacting with software in place of a human being.

As A.I. and machine learning gradually evolve, opportunities to work with the technology will increase. While many technologists tend to equate artificial intelligence with cutting-edge projects such as self-driving cars, this CompTIA data makes it clear that companies’ first use of A.I. and machine learning will probably involve sales and customer service. Be prepared.