Advances in AI (artificial intelligence) is having a profound impact on the IoT (Internet of Things) and it’s one of the most exciting ways our world is changing today. It’s frequently listed as one of the top areas of growth and innovation. We are all witnessing a historical shift in how we view machines, how we rely on them to complete tasks, and how we derive value from AI-enabled insights.

AI adoption is growing in nearly every vertical market. To make the point, here are a few interesting data points.

IDC says global sending on AI will reach $57.6 billion by 2021, driven in part by investments in healthcare, retail, and manufacturing. Accenture predicts the AI healthcare market alone will be worth $6.6 billion by 2021.

Juniper Research says global spending on AI in the retail sector will grow to $7.3 billion a year by 2022, which is up from $2 billion in 2018. With all this spending, you can bet we will be seeing a lot of job growth in AI. In fact, Adobe says jobs requiring AI has increased by 450% since 2013.

Here’s another interesting stat, Stanford University Research says the number of active AI startups has increased by 1,400% since the year 2000. To be clear, there is no doubt that all of these stats, give us the basis for this column.

But it’s really essential to dig into some AI trends and to look at adoption in verticals like manufacturing and healthcare.

AI adoption in manufacturing is part of a larger digital transformation that’s helping businesses harness data and data-driven insights. But in order to achieve a digital transformation, enterprises must work toward building an “innovation culture.”

An innovation culture means leveraging technologies like AI and machine learning, among others, to try to do more with less. An innovation culture is a culture in which employees and leaders are willing to step outside the box and seek out new ways to solve problems. We know that AI and IoT-enabled automation will allow industrial companies to streamline processes, workflows, and operations.

But another point of focus for companies embarking on a digital transformation is achieving transparent communications—and this is often external as well as internal. The enterprise realm is increasing transparency in part by leveraging AI via virtual assistants and/or intelligent agents.

Gartner research suggests by 2022, more than 50% of people collaborating in industry 4.0 ecosystems will use virtual assistants or intelligent agents. Gartner further suggests that as communications become multidimensional and multimodal, new forms of interactions like chatbots and virtual agents will facilitate the exchange of information and data.

Gartner also makes the point that employees with “restricted communication skills” will be more able to receive and deliver insights with the help of virtual agents. So, not only could AI through virtual agents enhance collaboration across an organization, but it could also reduce response time in terms of customer service. I’ve seen some exciting startup companies in the AI realm that will help make this a reality. Here’s just one example. This summer, an AI company called Avaamo, which specializes in conversational interfaces for enterprises—just like what we’re talking about—raised a $14.2 million series A financing round. This round brought the company’s total investment up to a hefty $23.5 million.

Avaamo is basically a deep-learning software company that’s working toward making conversational computing for the enterprise a reality through AI technology and innovations. The company’s conversational intelligent assistants are already deployed across 40 countries, and its platform enables enterprises to deploy omnichannel intelligent assistants in the areas of supply chain, claims processing, and more. This is an exciting field.

But let’s talk about healthcare. By implementing AI and related technologies, sectors like healthcare are essentially reinventing the wheel by reimagining processes that have been too stagnant for too long.

An Accenture study found that 42% of healthcare organizations are using machine learning to reimagine processes, 52% are harnessing data to create exponential improvements in speed and key performance indicators.

About 93% of Accenture’s respondents “strongly agree” or “agree” that machine learning-enabled processes help achieve previously hidden or unobtainable value. And 86% believe machine learning-enabled processes are helping them find solutions to previously unsolved business problems. That means 93% are finding previously hidden or unobtainable value and 86% are suddenly solving previously unsolved business problems? It’s not magic, but I actually have to admit, this sounds like magic.

But there is even more to talk about. A lot of times we hear about people’s fears that AI is going to displace human workers. Candidly, that’s just thinking about the technology in the wrong way. AI and machine learning will certainly affect the future of work, but it’s going to augment human capability and productivity.

Accenture’s process reimagined survey says 87% of healthcare organizations believe machine learning will help employees not only do more work but also better work.

In healthcare, organizations are also looking to machine learning technologies to help them manage process variability and unpredictability. This is important because in healthcare, people’s health and, sometimes, their very lives are at stake. Healthcare can also stand to benefit from the reduced costs that AI and machine-learning-enabled processes can bring.

For instance, these technologies can reduce costs associated with managing compliance, servicing products after sales, developing and implementing security and privacy controls, and more. The future is very bright and AI is truly set to change it.

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