Artificial intelligence (AI) can be implemented in business to improve work processes and add to the functionality of business systems. AI in the business context can refer either to specific software programs or to the ways in which those programs are actually used to help companies and organizations carry out a variety of operations and transactions.
When business AI refers to actual software programs, generally the specific function of an individual program is the focus. For example, if a business uses a translation software program to help handle brief translations, this is an application of artificial intelligence (AI) in business. By executing a task that requires a significant degree of evaluation or higher-order analysis, the translation software is acting as an artificial intelligence.
Another acceptable definition of artificial intelligence in business is the simulation of skills that are considered innate in people. Those skills include the use of reason and logic to make simple and complicated decisions. They also include the capability to recognize speech, speak and understand natural language, respond to verbal and written messages and recognize patterns. Artificial intelligence can even be said to be at work when an application "remembers" information and reuses it in other transactions. Some or all of these skills and capabilities are programmed into many applications of artificial intelligence in business; they automate or "computerize" tasks that were once handled exclusively by people.
There are many real-world applications for artificial intelligence in business. Electronic commerce, better known as e-commerce, is the use of software and machines that have been made to behave like intelligent sales clerks in a store and even like a cashier. When a person purchases merchandise or services on-line, he or she never has to interact with another person. Via this technology, he or she can enter a virtual store, shop and even pay for products. Artificially intelligent software totals a bill, and knows when to add tax, how to process payment and even whether a credit card number is valid.
Customers in cyberspace routinely receive receipts after payment is made, and virtual store owners can keep track of inventory without ever manually counting stock. Many businesses use highly sophisticated software to act as virtual customer service representatives and front-desk receptionists. Speech recognition software is one aspect that allows customers to receive some form of customer service by phone without ever talking to a person.
Customers can benefit greatly from applications of artificial intelligence in business. For instance, many people are able to check the activity of their bank and credit card accounts by phone without ever talking to anyone or even having to physically press a button on a phone. They simply speak to the artificially intelligent computer on the other end that "understands" their words. This can backfire, though; some customers feel that there is no substitute for the assistance of a real person, and business applications of AI can be frustrating to them.