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AI Practices in Business

What is AI? 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be defined as the development of computer systems to perform tasks that are normally required to be performed using human intelligence. Common examples of AI include visual perception, speech recognition, decision making and translation between languages.

The emerging technology has the potential for enormous impact on businesses that has never been seen before, enabling businesses to personalize customer experiences, adopt tailored products and services and initiate rapid and precise growth. As such, it is becoming increasingly apparent that in order to remain competitive in the current global market, businesses need to embrace the ever-changing digital landscape and adapt to today’s technology, including AI.

Benefits of AI 

Improved Customer Experience 

Unlike human powered systems, AI software can be available 24/7 to assist customers with their concerns. Good customer service and regular interaction with customers and clients has been shown to drive profit and AI software can be integral in this growth. These services can increase customers’ access to information and often offer a more tailored approach to their problems. AI facilitates improved services that are longer lasting and, subsequently, cheaper.

Automation 

AI systems delegate the ‘lower-level’ repetitive and manual tasks, helping to save time and money as staff can focus on more complex tasks that use their skill and expertise. Enabling staff to prioritize meaningful tasks will likely result in greater productivity and efficiency in the workplace.

Improved Efficiencies and Eradication of Error

AI software is able to move through and process a vast amount of data quickly and accurately, improving efficiency and effectiveness in business operations and customer service.

Moreover, businesses are likely to see less error in their operations, as AI has the ability to base its decisions on previous records and data. Accordingly, AI systems become more accurate in drawing conclusions through continuous learning and recognition of previous data. Essentially, AI has the potential to eradicate human error in basic tasks and to not only perform these tasks without failure, but to actually improve on them as the system becomes more knowledgeable.

Predictive Analysis 

One of the biggest advantages of AI over human intelligence is its ability to make predictions based on the extensive information it is able to analyze in mere seconds. AI may be useful in making predictions about the success or outcome of certain projects or the likely expectation of market trends. The ability of AI to analyze such extensive information enables it to make high-quality predictive analysis that is simply impossible for humans to achieve.

Figure. Benefits of Artificial Intelligence

Risks and Challenges

The adoption of AI practices is likely to have an enormous effect on many businesses.

As with any new technology, there are certain risks, challenges and concerns associated with the implementation of AI in business practice.

Challenges 

Lack of Skill 

Employees may not have the skill and experience to utilize the potential of AI fully. Businesses will need to train employees to operate AI solutions effectively and be aware that there may be some internal resistance to AI technology.

Cost and Time 

Truly competitive and effective AI software systems should be customized to the business. As such, small businesses may encounter difficulties funding comprehensive AI systems and staying up to date with digital trends. A further challenge in relation to costs is the maintenance and repair of AI systems. Technology is constantly evolving and updating, and AI systems are no exception. Programs will need to be updated and machines running the programs need to be serviced. Additionally, repair costs can be expensive, on top of the cost of having the AI system non-operational for a period of time.

The installation of AI software can also be a time-consuming process and can be disruptive to ordinary business practice.

Liability 

In terms of legal implications, there remains a great deal of uncertainty as to who will be assigned liability when the AI system makes an error. This is particularly unclear in circumstances where systems become ‘autonomous’ and begin to determine their own course and draw their own conclusions. Where an error is made, the question remains- to what extent can the business be held liable?

Risks 

Safety, Privacy and Security 

Just like any other computer program, AI software has the capacity to malfunction. These malfunctions can range anywhere from a slight disruption to a complete shutdown for a business. A comprehensive implementation of AI should affect each part of a business from engagement with customers to back-office operations, meaning that when things go wrong, it has the potential to be detrimental to a business’ operations.

AI software may also open itself up to malicious use by hijackers and hackers. There have been numerous examples of global giants such as Microsoft having their Twitter chatbot hijacked and Instagram’s users’ accounts being compromised. Privacy and the vulnerability of sensitive data to outside malicious use are frequent concerns for both businesses and customers. Companies need to be mindful in addressing these concerns and ensure that they have appropriate safeguards when implementing AI technology.

Impact on Jobs 

Automation of workflows, particularly lower-level, repetitive jobs are likely to be overtaken by AI software, inevitably, leading to some job loss. Some of these jobs, particularly those in agricultural and manufacturing will likely become obsolete.

In saying this, AI is also expected to create better and ‘higher-level’ jobs. Businesses who wish to remain competitive should be investing in their human capital, by reskilling and upskilling their workers for these ‘higher-level’ jobs that require less practical work and more education and knowledge.  Organizations will need to invest in education and training to ensure a skilled workforce and to prevent long-term unemployment.

Ethical Concerns 

Accuracy of Information 

AI systems that produce accurate and reliable information are vital to ensuring trust in AI and protection for the businesses that use it. Companies must make sure that their digital software is constantly producing precise and accurate information, and to quickly eliminate any issue that results in misleading or incorrect outcomes.

It is important to remember that AI gains a lot of its knowledge through data provided by humans. Accounting for human error and bias, AI systems should be monitored and checked frequently to ensure reliability and impartial decision protocols, and that they are not merely copying inaccurate or biased information provided by humans.

Transparency 

Transparency in AI programming can be a complex issue for businesses. On the one hand, transparency is crucial to enhance public knowledge and trust, and prevent unjustified fears surrounding the technology. However, many companies may not wish to open up their AI software to public scrutiny, since the programming is a proprietary interest of the business. Businesses must find the balance between ensuring transparency of their operations and of course, protecting their own interests and information. The public wants to know why AI systems reach decisions that affect them and need to be able to explore the reasoning behind such decisions. A lack of understanding in this area can be frustrating for customers and can expose the organization to reputational, financial and perhaps even operational risks.

The Effects of AI in Thailand 

In the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a steep increase of investment in AI technologies on a global scale. The social constraints and physical separation inflicted by the pandemic have highlighted the importance of digitalization in the current global landscape.

For the last few years the Thai government has been promoting the adoption of AI technologies across industry sectors in an effort to enhance production efficiency, by offering various incentives to businesses who provide AI based services.

In terms of the creation of AI itself, Thailand does face some challenges in the fact that the Thai language is mostly used in the domestic market. This may act as a barrier to foreign competitors wishing to enter the market. In saying this, this ‘barrier’ may open up the Thai market to smaller, local AI developers to provide this technology domestically.

Perhaps the biggest challenge in Thailand is that the majority of workers are low-mid level employees, meaning that many jobs will either be replaced or significantly changed by automation. This is particularly true in the healthcare, banking and retail sectors which are seeing immense growth in computerization over the past few years and even more so now, due to the pandemic. The banking sector in Thailand is steadfast in its commitment to using AI to enhance banking capabilities. In a recent statement by Yuttachai Teyarachakul, the managing director and country head of personal finance services at United Overseas Bank (UOB) Thailand, Mr Yuttachai confirmed the UOB’s dedication to making banking simpler, smarter and safer for customers. Many banks in Thailand have announced their intention to move to facial recognition for electronic banking as well as blockchain and machine learning for fraud detection. The retail industry is also implementing AI, mainly for loyalty programs and e-commerce.

Increasingly, the market is seeing AI used in supply chain, production and even financial strategy planning. It is likely that AI technology will continue to grow in Thailand across all industries, and in various aspects of a business’ operations. Overall, it seems that businesses and the government in Thailand are embracing AI and preparing for the challenges it may present.

Concluding Remarks 

AI will certainly have a disruptive effect on not only the Thai market, but society and jobs as a whole. Of course, the risks and challenges of AI should not be overlooked, and organizations will need to monitor the regulatory environment in which their AI systems operate to ensure compliance and understanding of future AI business practices.

In saying this, the positive impact of AI cannot be ignored. Not only will AI provide for the opportunity of high-level jobs, but it is likely to help boost productivity, effectiveness and customer service in business, as well as improving cost management and accuracy of operations.

Businesses wishing to stay up to date with market trends will need to not only be receptive to AI systems, but must proactively implement the technology to differentiate their products and services and keep up with consumer demand, and customer satisfaction in relation to their products and services.

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