Artificial intelligence (AI) is often considered to be the future of computing and possibly the greatest driver of innovation in the next decade. Already it is showing up in autonomous vehicles, voice controlled digital assistants and devices with facial recognition. But this is only the beginning. AI’s power to support human knowledge and ingenuity and change our perception of business challenges is game-changing when we look at how it can be applied to processes throughout an organization.
In many ways, AI is a natural partner for business process management efforts. AI can help automate routine tasks, improve user interfaces and analyze huge amounts of data. McKinsey & Company estimates that AI can automate as much as 45 percent or more of any particular job – allowing workers to focus on higher level, mission-critical activities.
Let’s look at two examples already in use. AI-driven natural language interfaces make interacting with applications easier and speeds up many of the individual steps within a process just by understanding the words spoken and the context of the request. For example, natural language processing can allow doctors to dictate clinical notes into a device, which then automatically populates appropriate forms, lab orders and prescriptions. Or it can summarize long blocks of text from medical journal articles or studies by identifying key concepts and phrases.
Machine learning, a component of AI, analyzes and identifies patterns within vast amounts of data by iterating through the data to identify relationships between data and the resulting decisions made from the data. With each iteration, the system acquires a deeper understanding of why decisions within an organization are made and applies statistical analysis to develop rules around these decisions. In the case of a complex area of business activity, supply chain management, machine learning can do things like predict when stock will run out or recommend which products are at surplus and automatically reduce their price to clear inventory.
As you can see, AI is starting to play a significant role in process automation and optimization efforts. More importantly, as adoption of AI technologies become even more widespread, they will become easier to implement, and have more applications within business process management