Is AI the smart way to grow your business?

There’s a six-letter word on almost every business agenda. Growth. And achieving it means finding better ways to work, while also saving money. For many businesses, that means looking to technology to help. And right now, the big focus is on Artificial Intelligence (AI).

A new threat, or a helping hand?

AI isn’t new. In fact, the term was coined in 1955 by a computer scientist named John McCarthy. He said that, “every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence can in principle be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it.”

Over 60 years later, AI has gone from a vision of the future to part of our daily lives. From email spam filters that adapt to catch every rogue message, to self-driving vehicles learning to navigate our roads, you’ll find AI in plenty of places. But what can it do for businesses? Should we be embracing it to get ahead? Or worried about it taking over our jobs?

“There are a lot of misconceptions about AI today”, says Ben Azvine, Global Head of Security Research and Innovation at BT, “and the way I look at is that there are two types of AI systems; ones that replace humans and ones that help humans.” According to Ben, using AI to boost business growth means focussing on the latter. The former, he says, is a long way off becoming a reality.

Riding the wave of big data

Whether it’s real-time logs of corporate network traffic, or details of every transaction across a nationwide chain of retail stores, we’re dealing with more data than ever. This presents a huge challenge for businesses, but it also comes with plenty of potential opportunities. And AI can help to unlock them.

“What we are seeing is that business are generating huge volumes of data”, explains Ben. “To become more efficient, to serve their customers better or design better products and services, or reduce their operational cost, they need to use that data.” Where a business might have needed 50 staff spending weeks on analysing sales figures to spot purchasing trends, AI can automate that process in hours or even minutes. And that could equal big gains in productivity, and the potential to uncover key insights that could drive business growth.

It’s not just sales data that AI can help with. “If you're a marketeer, you'll be able to deal with a much larger customer base. Or, if you're a network manager, you’ll be able to perform predictive analysis of your network and solve problems before they happen much faster than you could do before,” explains Ben.

The secret weapon in cyber security

“We think that the future of AI security is intelligence augmentation,” says Ben, “This is where we use AI systems to help humans in the search for an anomaly on the network, for example.”

From using a form of AI called Machine Learning to flag unusual activity on our networks, to spotting unusual Bitcoin payments that could uncover criminals behind ransomware attacks, we’re applying intelligence augmentation to our own cyber security. It means we can do even more to help businesses like yours stay safe on our network.

But when it comes to using AI to help our people, security is just the start. As Ben explains, “We get a huge number of provision and repair jobs every day. And we have something like 20,000 engineers who are constantly being dispatched to do these jobs. It's a very difficult task to do manually. So we use AI to continuously optimise allocation of tasks to engineers, based on their skills and location.”

The future of AI? It’s in your business

With AI embedded across our business, we can use our expertise and experience to bring it to yours. We can help you apply it in ways that empower your people to work smarter and use the data you have to drive growth.

To find out more, contact us on 0800 707 6318 (or 0800 707 6317 for existing customers).

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  • New customers 0800 707 6317