In the last few years, especially in the last decade when computers have shrunk to the size of handhelds and mobile devices have become primary tech devices for everyone, Artificial Intelligence has made quantum leaps in its ease and range of use, thus becoming ubiquitous in the broadest sense of the term.
AI pervades across business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) organisations in ways that have exponentially raised the value proposition for both; AI enhances what basic technology already provides in terms of speed, multitasking, ease of operation, enabling, and overall efficiency. The enabling of businesses and consumers has come on the back of vast advances in all areas of artificial intelligence, particularly in the realm of machine learning, natural language processing and cognitive services.
Benefits of AI in Business
For businesses, especially those that are interaction-oriented, the benefits of AI are obvious. With the masses of data that need to be processed, AI can help process and classify the data to address specific targeted goals and results. Decision-making in complex scenarios becomes immensely quick, accurate, and consistent. Supply chain streamlining is another area where AI, robotics, and algorithms can contribute significantly. AI also helps in automating processes, apart from improving security. All of this ultimately leads to greater efficiency at lesser cost. By cutting overheads and making processes lean and clean, AI helps businesses do more for less, thus making growth and expansion faster and cheaper.
In India, AI has also helped hundreds of start-ups get off the ground and grow. The number of app-based businesses is a ready example, and most of them leverage AI capabilities in some form. The cumulative inclusive effect of this on the economic and social fabric of the country is obvious. Prosperity reaches corners of the country that would otherwise be out of the picture – for instance, an artistic community in a rural area has comparable access to the market that a larger, more centrally located agency would.
One of the crucial points in meaningfully employing AI also lies in the way it can be easily integrated into operations. Microsoft has been a leading player, pioneering technologies and solutions with far-reaching positive consequences, bringing together tools and operations under one umbrella, and providing a one-stop AI solution.
The Microsoft Approach
Microsoft’s approach to AI focuses on empowerment, innovation and responsibility. The three cornerstones of the Microsoft approach are – meaningful innovation, empowering people, and responsible AI. In short, impactful solutions that demonstrably improve people’s lives while ensuring AI systems are fair, reliable, secure and ethical
In the words of Brad Smith, President and Vice Chair, Microsoft, “People will not use technology they do not trust. Our ability to innovate therefore depends on maintaining a greater level of transparency.” Keeping this motto in mind, Microsoft uses best practices in its deployment of AI tools, seeing that concerns of fairness, accountability, transparency, inclusiveness, reliability and safety, security and privacy are addressed across the product development lifecycle. Examples of this approach can be found in the wide variety of language-based tools which help people and organisations communicate across the barrier of language, especially in a multilingual country like India.
Microsoft’s portfolio of AI services
For organisations specifically, Microsoft’s AI-based tools provide customised solutions to people in various roles and functions. Cloud computing, where Microsoft was one of the prime movers, enables employees across the board to integrate their daily activities in a seamless and collaborative manner, irrespective of where they are and what device they are working on. The suite of tools and services on offer provide a comprehensive solution to a host of problems that an AI-based system can specifically address.
Take for instance, Office 365. The cloud-based productivity and collaboration suite makes employees platform-agnostic and enables them to work efficiently and smoothly with their colleagues, without having to worry about loss of time or data. Employees in core functions in the organisation benefit from the focused attention provided by Microsoft Dynamics 365. Further up the ladder of customisation and development, there is Microsoft’s Power Platform and Azure. All these tools and services are supported by cloud-based machine learning and integrated across platforms.
Microsoft has, for decades, demonstrated its expertise and continues to be a pioneer in all manner of computing, convergence technologies, and data management, and underpinning all this is its wide-ranging innovation in AI. The tools that Microsoft provides in the larger AI arena have helped place itself in a position to help both individuals and enterprises leverage their capabilities in the best possible way.
In reality, Artificial Intelligence is already at work all around us, and its impact and importance are bound to increase further in the coming years. As AI progresses further in improving efficiency and interactivity with its communication and ease-of-access tools, the world looks ahead to its benefits ranging from commercial to government to voluntary organisations. And Microsoft will continue to be a primary hand holder, helping to take the trouble out of convergence with its ever-expanding palette of AI tools.