How Can Artificial Intelligence Improve Your Business?

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the power to dramatically increase efficiency. Since 2013, the number of jobs that use AI has increased by 450%. AI is changing how we do our jobs, replacing tedious, manual tasks and freeing workers to focus on more valuable projects. According to PwC, 72% of business decision makers consider AI a key tool for allowing people to focus on more meaningful work.

What is artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence is intelligence demonstrated by machines. When a computer performs a task that would require human intelligence to complete, such as complex problem solving, that is artificial intelligence. AI is not actually intelligent. It is a program that follows specific instructions to arrive at intelligent conclusions. Its strengths lie in complex calculations, routine tasks, and pattern recognition.

What most people think of as AI is a specific type of artificial intelligence called machine learning. With machine learning, software is programmed to teach itself rather than being explicitly programmed with a set of instructions to accomplish a task. The machine is trained using large amounts of data and algorithms that give it the ability to learn how to perform the task by repeatedly doing it and learning from each iteration. As the algorithm receives more data, the machine gets better at the task.

How AI enables your business

AI/machine learning delivers tremendous benefits by automating manual business processes. Automation using machine learning provides three key benefits:

  • It’s faster, because computers can process data much faster than humans can. Humans process information 10 million times slower than computers do, so computers can finish processing data before humans have even started.
  • It’s more accurate, because computers don’t make data input mistakes. One famous example of a data input mistake cost Mizuho Securities Co. $340 million in one day. The company attempted to sell shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Instead of offering single shares for 610,000 yen apiece, a typing error led to the sale of 610,000 shares for 1 yen apiece. Humans make mistakes.
  • It ensures all data is entered into the system. If you have a lot of paperwork that must be manually entered into a computer, it sometimes sits for days, or indefinitely, because your team is too busy to enter the data.

One example - intelligent character recognition

Optical character recognition (OCR) is technology that enables you to convert different types of documents, such as scanned paper documents, PDF files or images captured by a digital camera into editable and searchable data. OCR can be used to input long documents into electronic files; however, OCR cannot interpret handwriting and some computer fonts.

AI solves that problem.

Intelligent character recognition (ICR) uses AI to learn different fonts and styles of handwriting, so its accuracy improves as it scans more and more documents. ICR takes scanned images of documents that may be hand-written, blurry or in artistic fonts and turns them into text that can be searched and categorized.

By analyzing scanned documents – receipts, contracts, orders, etc. – and turning them into searchable and editable text, ICR enables a more efficient, paper-free office. It frees up space while enabling easy cataloging, sorting, and analysis.

ICR can save days, even weeks, of time and effort while eliminating errors and issues associated with missing/incorrect information.

Without ICR, handwritten forms, printed receipts and signed contracts must be processed by hand. This requires someone to read each scanned document and type the information into a computer. If the scans aren’t perfect, or the handwriting is messy, mistakes are made. Manually inputting data is both time consuming and error prone, because humans just aren’t as good as machine learning algorithms at deciphering handwriting or reading scanned documents.

Even if the document is perfectly legible, someone typing on a keyboard can make mistakes. That is how you end up selling 610,000 shares for 1 yen when you want to sell 1 share for 610,000 yen.

If you deal with dozens of vendors every month, scanned documents often end up sitting in a pile waiting for someone to have the time to enter the data. When you need to pay invoices, reconcile accounts, or verify orders, you are working with partial information. This can cause billing errors, double payments, and loss of pertinent information in the event of an audit.

Artificial intelligence improves your business by increasing efficiency and improving data accuracy, directly improving your bottom line.

Do you want to learn how AI can help you? Contact us today to learn how iRely can help you improve business processes – including introducing ICR to help our petroleum distribution customers work smarter and faster.