In the past century or so, the United States has experienced the power of innovation that disrupts the economy and American way of life. Some inventions were created out of necessity (air conditioning, the telephone and antibiotics) and some out of desire (video games, Segways and TV dinners). As we enter 2018, it is clear that artificial intelligence (AI) is an innovation that is here to stay and will most definitely change the way Americans work, play and interact.
Simply put, AI is “is intelligence displayed by machines, in contrast with the natural intelligence (NI) displayed by humans and other animals.” Computer science takes it a step further and describes it as any device or machine that recognizes its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of success at an objective or goal. Essentially, AI can perform tasks that normally require human understanding but they can do this with little to no human interaction.
AI can be used to increase speed, improve functionality, drive quality conclusions and increase growth within a company, when analyzing data. Many markets, industries and skills stand to be disrupted by data analysis; healthcare, customer service, procurement, real estate and sales to name a few. AI could easily disrupt these industries because it is effective at recognizing trends and changes in information, much faster than a human could analyze. AI better equips human workers to make informed, data-driven decisions and improve their efficiency for technical, and non-technical, workers alike.
Procurement, as an industry with enormous amounts of data, is ripe and ready to be disrupted by AI. Tail spend specifically generates a ton of data, that is left uncompiled, unanalyzed and underutilized. This is data that humans wouldn’t normally have time time to analyze or understand on their own. By using AI, procurement teams can unlock the hidden trends in their tail spend purchases, to optimize time and efficiency, and save money.
The famous Henry Ford quote, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses,” is often used to (smugly?) argue the merit of a new innovation. But it actually applies to AI in a somewhat unconventional way. Because in many senses AI truly is the “faster horses” of human intelligence. And like it or not, organizations and corporations that fail to utilize AI in their solutions to analyze data are subject to falling behind the competition.