What comes to mind when you hear the term AI (Artificial Intelligence)? Robots plotting to exterminate the human race perhaps, or covert military operations? What about being able to lean back in your office chair while telling your computer a story about the kind of returns you wish you could get on an investment and it replies with exactly the investments that would meet those criteria, ranked by risk and return? What if you’re under the thumb to provide very specific data for an audit but have no idea where to start looking for it and your mobile device helpfully pipes up with a summary of exactly the data you need along with a history of changes and which systems or reports the full records can be found in? Now that would be useful AI, and it’s not necessarily far off.
IBM’s Watson project takes the clever search results that we’re already used to from Google to the next level, by becoming a trusted advisor who gets better with every conversation. By interpreting natural language (that means open-ended questions, no report parameters or query strings required) to filter and sort through all the databases, documents and information at its disposal, Watson will generate, merge and rank possible answers with astonishing accuracy. It is a cloud-based “cognitive computing system” that has already found application in the health care, customer services and finance industries. Why not Real Estate or property management next?
Another company, called Yseop, has developed software that uses AI to instantly turn structured data into natural language documents such as financial reports, executive summaries or profiles, in multiple languages simultaneously. Using easily updatable data sources and business rules, means that Yseop can constantly “learn” to improve its reasoning process in order to write like an industry expert.
These kinds of technologies can turn manual and time-consuming reporting or administrative tasks into opportunities for deeper analysis, fresh insights, or just quicker, more specific results without the need for technical skills or access to complicated reporting engines. That would enable business users to do their jobs better and managers to get the information they need more quickly which certainly sounds like a more useful application of AI than tea-tray carrying robots to me!