With an impressive annual growth rate of 3.5%, AI will reach a market value of $1.2 trillion by 2020, according to Forrester Research. AI-based apps and web services are slowly making their way onto the mainstream market and, although many users may not realize it, the simple act of interacting with their phone’s voice assistant or opening their favorite meditation app before bedtime involves using artificial intelligence to a certain extent.
Using AI has become a catalyst for innovation and, as revealed by Boston Consulting Group’s 13th annual report defining the world’s most innovative companies in 2019, more and more companies are incorporating AI into their products. AI-based solutions are often associated with the playground of innovation that is the startup scene, but, as revealed by the report, big names like Amazon, Netflix, and Adidas have adopted AI and Big Data analytics at a faster rate.
What’s more, the way these companies incorporate AI into their operations has allowed them to improve customer experience significantly, create new business models, streamline processes and adopt new technologies.
How are the top 10 most innovative companies using AI?
From cashier-less stores to Animojis, the applications of AI defy customer expectations and opens a new world of possibilities:
Not surprisingly, Alphabet and its biggest subsidiary, Google, is regarded as the most innovative company in the world. Google is now an AI-first company and there are 12 AI projects powering Google products. On YouTube, for example, AI helps identify offensive content, in Google Calendar it helps users with smart scheduling, while Google Search uses deep learning to simulate the way the human brain organizes and processes information.
Amazon does more than just use AI. The company reorganized itself around AI and machine learning, so that these innovations are now present into the three most popular Amazon products: the Amazon Go store, Amazon recommendations, and Alexa. Additionally, Amazon Web Services (AWS) are now available to customers who need machine learning solutions.
Apple’s latest iPhones not only have better cameras and smoother operating systems, but also AI-specific hardware that helps them understand the world around them. As a result, iPhone users are now able to change the depth-of-field after photos are taken and unlock their phones in milliseconds with FaceID. Although more fun than functional, Apple’s Animoji, which turns facial expressions into real-time animations, is another great example of popular AI-features.
Founded in 2016, Microsoft’s Research and AI group grew to 8,000 employees in only one year. Apart from Cortana, which is the company’s best-known AI-based product, Microsoft also has a healthcare division that develops predictive analytics tools to diagnose diseases, and has partnered with Baidu to create a platform for autonomous vehicles.
Samsung organized the Artificial Intelligence Summit in 2018 and it was then when they announced that all Samsung devices will have AI added to them by 2020. Samsung was also the first electronics company to launch an 8K AI tool for TVs that automatically upscale low-resolution images to 8K.
Most Netflix users are already familiar with the way the streaming service suggests content based on the watch history, but this isn’t their only application of AI. Netflix also uses AI to auto-generate thumbnails that drive clicks, to scout the best locations for movie productions, and to optimize streaming quality.
IBM’s Watson AI system started out as a research project into natural language processing, but it is now used by companies all over the world. For example, a Watson-powered chatbot answers patient questions at Moorfields eye hospital and Wimbledon uses the software to generate auto video highlights.
Facebook is a true powerhouse when it comes to AI features. From using deep neural networks to target ads to recognizing faces and extracting meaning from text, Facebook organizes unstructured data to learn more about its users, deliver relevant content, and even predict future user actions.
Thanks to the unique way it collects data in real time from self-driving cars, Tesla is able to refine its algorithms and create accurate maps that display everything from traffic to road conditions. And, because all this data is in the cloud, Tesla vehicles can form networks and learn to improve safety, efficiency, and comfort. Elon Musk also co-founded OpenAI, an organization which ensures that AI features are deployed safely.
According to Qawerk, AI-based recommendations in fashion apps are one of the most commonly tested features. In early 2019, Adidas brought the experience in online stores. By partnering with AI platform Findmine, Adidas now offers personalized outfit recommendations with such high accuracy that users couldn’t distinguish between human and AI suggestions. Internally, Adidas also uses AI to enhance workplace communication.
Implications and prospects for AI-based apps and services
Considering the current rate of adoption, artificial intelligence is in no way just a passing trend. As both startups and veteran companies are incorporating AI into the products and business processes, end-users are also raising their expectations. Ultimately, AI will create more jobs than it destroys, because it will help humans do their jobs better. Needless to say, developing and testing AI-apps and web-based services is now a growing market segment. Since AI apps learn based on user interactions, it’s important to anticipate challenges and, at the same time, make sure these apps comply with regulations.
Although AI has applications in almost all fields, from healthcare and education to web development and quality assurance, McKinsey estimates that, by 2020, the impact of artificial intelligence will be felt most in the marketing and sales sector, followed by supply chain management and manufacturing.