An audit firm that’s using cognitive technology to extract key terms from contracts … a bank that deployed a lifelike intelligent-agent avatar for its IT support help desk … a cancer center that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to improve hotel and restaurant recommendations for patients’ families … These are just a few of the examples of how companies are capitalizing on AI, as described in a new Harvard Business Review article Artificial Intelligence for the Real World. The authors are Thomas H. Davenport, professor at Babson College, research fellow at MIT, and senior adviser at Deloitte Analytics; and Rajeev Ronanki, principal at Deloitte Consulting.
The article is full of useful insights, as you’d expect from Davenport, who was one of the first thought leaders to emphasize the magnitude of the impact big data and analytics would have on businesses. Tax leaders will find the description of the three types of AI – process automation, cognitive insight and cognitive engagement – relevant and helpful.
The authors present the results of a poll of 250 executives who were familiar with their organizations’ AI projects to get their take on the benefits of these initiatives. The most popular goals for AI include:
- Enhancing the features, functions and performance of products (cited by 51 percent of respondents);
- Optimizing internal business operations (36 percent); and
- Freeing up workers to be more creative by automating tasks (36 percent).
Interestingly, reducing head count through automation was the least common response, chosen by only 22 percent of these execs. Davenport and Ronanki take a broadly positive view of the impact of AI on jobs, which is among the hottest AI conversations right now. In the robotic process automation projects they studied, for example, “replacing administrative employees was neither the primary objective nor a common outcome. Only a few projects led to reductions in head count, and in most cases, the tasks in question had already been shifted to outsourced workers.”
The co-authors assert, “with the right planning and development, cognitive technology could usher in a golden age of productivity, work satisfaction, and prosperity.” Sounds good to me – bring it on! To learn more about AI and its implications for tax, see my colleague John Viglione’s post The Robots Are Not Coming for You: Separating AI Fact from Fiction.
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