One of the things artificial intelligence has taught us is that a company does not need to build a new AI system to meet unmet customer needs. Nor does it need to bet the farm on a single piece of AI.
Case in point: Amazon (A) recently announced that Prime members (owned by the company) will soon be able to order from its retail website using Facebook Messenger, and that other ways to order merchandise will be added “in the coming months.” That means you can message your friends on Facebook Messenger using your Echo device, for example, without actually needing an Alexa device.
Amazon’s announcement comes a few months after the retail giant eliminated the need for customer service agents to switch to Alexa, from now on. Rather, with the Instant Pager, Amazon can simply point in the direction to an agent waiting inside the retail store to respond to questions.
Farther back, at Amazon’s West Coast fulfillment center in San Bernardino, California, delivery drones flew over a square meter-size area where nine drones were gathered, all flying with flight paths from the dock all the way to the last step of delivery.
Bloomberg Businessweek’s Catharine Taylor explores Amazon’s efforts in some of these areas of AI. [ALSO SEE: 5 Productivity Resources For Entrepreneurs]
Who knows? If Amazon can build it and get it working for a few customers (and, again, it’s just been announced for now), the system could be faster and more accurate than humans, speeding up and making processes more efficient.
The good news for everyone is that almost every smart company (and most smart start-ups) can already incorporate artificial intelligence into their product or process. As soon as Amazon is ready to roll its arms wide (and thereby give all companies a real reason to try to do so), machine learning will be there to help.
Here are some impressive examples from others among the worlds’ biggest companies:
Apple Stores: a new Apple Store in Seoul, South Korea is equipped with a camera that allows Apple Pay customers to check their item at the register using a device. The in-store cameras watch the screen and find the correct charge to pay. The system improves accuracy, explains the website 9to5 Mac.
Apple Translate: The company acquired the Italian telephony start-up Pi1 in 2015. The company’s technology helps translate or transcribe speech from one language to another.
UX/UI teams at Airbnb: The five teams in use of AI include: moving-room maps for hosts, one-stop community registries for travelers, “better package timing of restaurants in-network,” and a feature that allows people with lower skills to share homes on Airbnb. Airbnb stresses that none of these tools are intended to replace existing staff.
JPMorgan: The bank of this financial powerhouse went beyond using AI for accounting to create an “AI-assisted frontline workforce” that uses computers in its call centers. The AI helps with things like answering customer questions.
Google; the company has announced it will launch a “machine learning engine” in the second half of 2019 for the Google Assistant. There are some interesting applications, such as suggesting recipes, and automating tedious tasks like repeating phrases and typing on phones.
IBM’s Watson; the company is working on personal assistant technology, so that people will order items from websites that work with Watson. The process is called Direct To Watson (D2W).
Many more companies were, and still are, working on complex implementations of AI. According to AI Horizons, an AI conference that focuses on the practical use of artificial intelligence, a report on the theme from the recent AI Horizons Americas show at the Philadelphia Convention Center states: