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How AI can change your business right now

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Data has become the new business currency and companies have access to more data than ever before. But the business differentiator now is what they do with the information. This is where AI comes in says LIKUN ZHAO, GM, Huawei Consumer Business Group SA

A recent global study by MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found that more than 80% of organisations see artificial intelligence (AI) as a strategic opportunity for their business. The study surveyed companies from 21 industries in 112 countries, highlighting the fact that AI can serve multiple sectors, and is not just limited to a handful of business segments.

What is AI?

The term ‘artificial intelligence’ was actually coined way back in the 1950s, and since then its definition has broadened widely as technology becomes smarter, data becomes more prolific, and analytics become more nuanced. At its most basic level, AI refers to a system that is capable of learning from data. As more data is inputted, the system gets smarter and is able to take more action on its own, accomplishing what only humans could do previously, but in a much shorter timeframe and with increasing accuracy.

Data has become the new business currency, and, thanks to new technologies, companies have access to more data than ever before. But the business differentiator is not who has the most data but what they do with the information. And this is where AI comes in. AI essentially unlocks the power of data. Through the use of AI, systems can process massive amounts of data and transform this data into knowledge – knowledge about everything from customers and staff to procedures and time management.

Getting to know your customers

The better you know your consumers, the better you are able to give them more personalised brand experiences that will turn them into loyal customers. AI is an extremely useful tool to learn more about your clients’ preferences and buying habits. It is already being used extensively in ecommerce, where customers’ ‘Wish Lists’ and previous purchases can provide insight into their interests, likes and spending patterns. One of AI’s key benefits is that this data is available in real time, so online retailers can act on this information immediately. The insurance industry is also using AI to get to know its clients’ driving behaviour, which not only results in lower premiums for safe drivers, but also gives insurers more information about their clients that could be used for future company innovations that will address a glaring need they would otherwise not be aware of.

Optimising employee performance

Of course, your customers are not the only people important to your business. The advantages of AI are not solely externally focused but can also turn inward to put the spotlight on the individuals who make your business happen. AI can be used effectively in many HR processes, such as the hiring of new staff and performance reviews. In addition, it can assist in detecting potential staff issues, such as regular absenteeism, before they become problems, and even point to possible causes. AI is also an incredibly useful tool for compiling staff schedules and allocating resources on certain projects, in order to optimise productivity, augment outcomes and reduce costs.

Enhancing business operations

Whatever your business, AI can enhance how you run things. In manufacturing, for example, AI can be used to quickly resolve issues on the floor by accessing data on how similar problems were addressed in the past. In sales, cold calling can become a thing of the past as AI can help to generate more accurate leads. Delivery companies can use AI to manage and monitor their fleets, and more accurately assign tasks and achieve quicker deliveries. Across industries, AI can assist in driving down costs, optimising time management, compiling accurate reports and better serving customers. Real-time processing of data ensures businesses keep up to date with better information, better recommendations and more insightful predictive power, to optimise business decisions.

AI on your phone: the businessperson’s virtual assistant

Cellphones have been vital business tools for almost two decades now, and their importance has only accelerated as the idea of the flexible workforce starts to take shape. Smartphones are also becoming increasingly intelligent as AI is being integrated more and more into their systems and applications. However, AI has also been known to slow down phone performance considerably, drain battery life, as well as open users up to privacy problems – none of which are good for business.

As the first and only phone with on-device AI, the new Huawei Mate 10 Pro is able to address all these issues. Because the artificial intelligence is on the phone, all your information stays on the device, and you do not need a network to use traditionally data-draining apps. In addition, the Huawei Mate 10 is built to avoid battery waste, manage abnormal power consumption and maximise battery usage. This makes the phone an ideal business companion, as you will never be let down by a dying battery, even in the case of excessive usage.

Because it is an AI-enabled device, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is also able to learn your cellphone habits and preferences, so over time it can become more intuitive and give you a more personalised experience. This kind of intelligence goes well beyond what Siri and other voice-activated assistants can do.

The Huawei Mate 10 Pro is giving people a taste of what artificial intelligence can do for business, especially in terms of having a more customised consumer experience. AI is undeniably the future of business, and companies that use it wisely will have a definite competitive advantage, or risk getting left far behind.

 

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Now download a bank account

Absa has introduced an end-to-end account opening for new customers, through the Absa Banking App, which can be downloaded from the Android and Apple app stores. This follows the launch of the world first ChatBanking on WhatsApp service.

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This “download your account” feature enables new customers to Absa, to open a Cheque account, order their card and start transacting on the Absa Banking App, all within minutes, from anywhere and at any time, by downloading it from the App stores.

“Overall, this new capability is not only expected to enhance the customer’s digital experience, but we expect to leverage this in our branches, bringing digital experiences to the branch environment and making it easier for our customers to join and bank with us regardless of where they may be,” says Aupa Monyatsi, Managing Executive for Virtual Channels at Absa Retail & Business Banking.

“With this innovation comes the need to ensure that the security of our customers is at the heart of our digital experience, this is why the digital onboarding experience for this feature includes a high-quality facial matching check with the Department of Home Affairs to verify the customer’s identity, ensuring that we have the most up to date information of our clients. Security is supremely important for us.”

The new version of the Absa Banking App is now available in the Apple and Android App stores, and anyone with a South African ID can become an Absa customer, by following these simple steps:

  1. Download the Absa App
  2. Choose the account you would like to open
  3. Tell us who you are
  4. To keep you safe, we will verify your cell phone number
  5. Take a selfie, and we will do facial matching with the Department of Home Affairs to confirm you are who you say you are
  6. Tell us where you live
  7. Let us know what you do for a living and your income
  8. Click Apply.

 

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How we use phones to avoid human contact

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.

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Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances. 

Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?

The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.

In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.

Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.

Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”

To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:

·         I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?

With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.

·         Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?

Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.

·         I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?

Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.

 

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