Harnath Babu, CIO, KPMG in India

Chatbots, virtual assistants, cognitive computing, machine learning, and a lot more have become common terminologies in the boardrooms across organisations. To say that new developments in technology have changed the way we perform our day-to-day activities would be an understatement – they have in fact completely transformed our lives in a way that improves health, safety, and productivity. Today, artificial intelligence-based assistants are increasingly becoming part of our routines, transforming the way we do simple things such as shopping and driving, to more fundamental things such as ways to maintain our homes, offices, and automobiles.

While just a few years ago artificial intelligence seemed a distant dream, today it is reshaping the human journey. We carry it in our pockets, in our smartphones and a number of online commerce services we avail throughout the day. So what does that mean? Does it mean that our world would soon be taken over by bots? No, never.

From cars that drive themselves, maps that show an ideal driving route for a journey as per the current traffic, to the product recommendations we receive on online shopping portals based on our purchase history, and computers that play chess — these and a lot more rely on machine learning and artificial intelligence. By leveraging these advanced technologies, systems are trained to perform certain tasks after processing huge amounts of data and identifying patterns.

Thanks to these developments, we have already experienced success across several industries that we earlier believed could only happen in The Hobbit’s fantasies.

A prime example is transportation, where there has been a widespread adoption of artificial intelligence at a high speed. We can already see driverless cars with physically embodied artificial intelligence systems. As cars become better drivers than people, it is most likely that artificial intelligence would also take over trucks, flying vehicles, and personal robots in the coming time.

Artificial Intelligence is also taking the financial services industry by storm. Bankers are leveraging it to serve the customers better, keep track of the customer base, and address their requirements by providing offers that are relevant to them at the right time and through the right channel.

In healthcare, AI-based devices help in collating useful data from personal monitoring devices, mobile applications, as well as Electronic Health Records (EHRs). For instance, IBM’s Watson is programmed to recommend the best cancer treatments to doctors and treat patients accordingly. In the coming years, such AI-based applications would majorly help in improving health and the quality of life for millions of people.

Furthermore, the future of wearables is also becoming increasingly personal and smart, with wearable fitness trackers and AI personal trainers having the capability to recognise and track user’s activities in real-time throughout the day and offer useful feedback.

The Road Ahead

These examples clearly show the potential for artificial intelligence to penetrate all the major industry verticals from transportation, financial services, and healthcare to advertising, and now in the workplace. Leveraging AI for a diverse range of business issues has not been as easy and promising as it is today. But with time, efficient algorithms, high-performance computing devices, and huge amounts of data are falling into place and AI technology is set to become one of the key solutions.

However, while we think machine learning can improve the cost, speed, and quality of products and services, it must be seen as a complimentary technology to humans. These emerging technologies must not be confused with completely replacing humans, rather automation will lead to an increase in new jobs with fresh, new job categories. Job transformation would be one of the largest outcomes, as AI-based assistants would work side-by-side with humans, not take over their jobs.

As artificial intelligence is guaranteed to bring a sea change across industries by quickly becoming one of the foundational technologies such as the internet, what is your company doing to transform the customer experience using AI?

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