Artificial Intelligence (AI) is often discussed as a separate entity that may or may not be incorporated into business practice as the technology develops. However, the reality is increasingly that AI is likely to become a part of many of the systems and processes that already make up business infrastructure today. In fact, by 2020, Gartner estimates that every software product or service on the market is likely to have an AI component.
Where can AI make a difference?
The benefits of machine learning are broad especially in the context of the efficiency goals that dominate planning today and the constant quest to reduce spend while driving revenue. AI has the potential to make a difference in a number of different ways, including:
- Providing opportunities to continuously evolve and improve the customer experience
- Enabling more efficiency and reduction of costs across the business
- Using automation of certain processes to reduce the need for human handling so as to minimise the potential for mistakes and errors
- Freeing up employees to work on other tasks and to add value to areas of the business that require skills such as creativity and problem solving that only humans can do
Optimising planning with AI
Given the benefits that AI has to offer across the board when it comes to business, it’s not surprising that embracing it as part of planning processes can help with optimisation. Perhaps the biggest impact of AI integration into planning is when it comes to cost. Although every business is different, it’s estimated that it takes around 3-5% of revenue to create an annual plan, a fairly substantial amount. Being able to reduce this by even 1% could create a wealth of savings for any business, whether small, medium or large. As well as the ability to reduce the costs involved, AI can also help optimise planning by:
- Automating the stages involved in preparing for planning. For most enterprises, planning requires collating and preparing data, as well as establishing workflows. With the use of AI much of this can be automated to ensure accuracy and to minimise the preparation time involved.
- Reducing the time required for the process itself. Planning could be stretched out over a six-month cycle, beginning in the summer to be ready to launch a plan at the end of the year. This can be significantly reduced with the use of AI, which can provide more accurate and up to date information and shorten the various timelines involved to make them more efficient.
- More effective planning. AI has the potential to integrate a wealth of different data and insights into the planning process to make the end result more valuable. Trend analyses, incorporation of visual analytics and using AI with respect to forecasting and financial budgets can all be used to optimise the process and create a more accurate and effective plan for the business.
In the next couple of years AI will have a crucial role to play in the way that businesses plan for the future. Embracing it will provide previously unheard of opportunities for optimisation.