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Practical steps towards an innovative future with AI

AI technology is dominating headlines and revolutionizing the way companies operate. From analyzing data to automating labor-intensive tasks, AI is empowering employees and leaders to rediscover the joy of work. Today, managers and decision-makers in financial services, manufacturing, retail, and other industries are discovering opportunities to use AI to create better human experiences.

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Many organizations have already adapted AI for tasks like building customer-facing chatbots or crafting product descriptions. However, AI is more than a single-issue solution. It can be embedded in organizations’ internal processes to help them reimagine the possibilities for how to carry out essential tasks more effectively rather than merely replicate past efficiencies.

The first step is for organizations to identify opportunities where AI can help them create more efficiency in their businesses. From there, leaders and employees can design better workflows and create enriched experiences that keep customers coming back. “You have to have the right people in the room to pull together the IT and line-of-business executives and say, ‘What are the problems we’re trying to solve? What are our key performance indicators, and how do we think AI is going to push those forward?’” says Maribel Lopez, Founder and Principal Analyst of Lopez Research.

With new AI models entering the workspace, leaders from multiple retailers can choose how to use AI capabilities to improve operations. “We’re able to take this one huge model,” says Seb Reeve, Director of Intelligence Engagement at Nuance. “Then we can decide, ‘Well, do we want it to do sentiment? Do we want it to summarize some content? Do we want it to generate an email? Do we want it to be part of a copilot to help a staffer to interact with a customer or be able to do something more efficiently?’ And it’s [capable of] all of the above.”

The used-car retailer CarMax disrupted the industry with its innovative online and customer-focused sales process. The company now uses AI to generate information about its inventory of cars, summarize customer reviews, and improve search engine optimization content. “With the help of Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service, we’re disrupting our industry for a second time by delivering cutting-edge digital tools and capabilities and becoming a true omnichannel retailer,” says Shamim Mohammad, Executive Vice President and Chief Information and Technology Officer of CarMax.

Companies are using AI in new ways, creating new sources of data and providing incentives for them to make data more accessible and move it into a cloud solution with tools like Microsoft Azure. “We can have all this data, but that doesn’t mean it’s actionable,” says Jake Hall, an industry leader known as the Manufacturing Millennial. Data becomes more valuable with the tools and knowledge necessary to turn information into impact.

Making the most of your data with deeper insights

Companies building AI into their business practices often begin by changing how they collect and combine data, helping them be better positioned to use data insights across the business.

Energy companies are using AI to combine data insights so that they can enhance services. “The utilities are seeing AI’s ability to perform near-real-time, short-term, and even long-term maintenance of assets based on the sensors and data points,” says Gina Weber, Managing Director of the Utility Analytics Institute.

As online shopping and research increases, customers are becoming more aware of security risks and more interested in personalized solutions and payment options. With technology like Microsoft Security Copilot, companies can launch a comprehensive solution to address pressing security issues and create a safe digital service for those who want to use mobile wallets, personalized shopping suggestions, or predictive carts.

Mobile commerce based on data insights will help companies get to know their customers better and reduce customer acquisition costs, benefiting retailers and those in the financial services industry. “With more data, businesses can increase the long-term value of their customers,” says Efi Pylarinou, fintech thought leader and Founder of Pylarinou Advisory.

Imagining new solutions with AI

Intelligent technology is poised to transform the way companies do business. AI offers organizations an opportunity to analyze their key challenges and find imaginative solutions.

This doesn’t have to happen instantly. With a careful evaluation of employee workflows and customer experiences, companies can begin applying AI in a few specific ways today. Learning from those applications can help businesses better prepare for the new technologies of tomorrow.

Learn how you can get more value from your data and reduce costs with the Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform.