The terms machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) have become buzzwords across the globe, particularly among forward-thinking business leaders. Yet, despite these technologies’ promising benefits, few organisations have actually been taking full advantage of them. That is likely to change this year, however, with Gartner projecting that 2018 will officially mark the beginning of the “democratisation” of AI.

One of the biggest driving forces behind this transformation is the growing realisation that the collection and analysis of data has become an essential component of success in the digital age. Furthermore, there is an increasing awareness that despite the massive volume of data available, many organisations still aren’t putting that information to productive use. Artificial intelligence holds the key to unlocking the tremendous value all that data represents.

With that in mind, here are five specific ways that AI and machine learning technology will impact the enterprise over the coming months.

1. New AI-Related Roles Will Begin To Take Shape

As the adoption of AI technologies continues to grow, so will the demand for skilled workers. Larger enterprises may choose to add senior-level positions, such as Chief Automation Officer, to manage how AI and machine learning are integrated into the company’s overall vision and strategy. Furthermore, as more organisations begin making the move toward creating their own automation centres of excellence (CoE), a combination of re-skilling and staff expansion will be needed to fill next generation roles, such as Automation Engineers.

2. AI Will Bolster Cybersecurity

As cyber-criminals continue honing their craft to become more relentless, invasive, and sophisticated in their attacks, organisations must utilise the advanced technologies available to them in order to fortify their defences. Incorporating AI and machine learning algorithms into the enterprise incident response and remediation process augments the security staff’s ability to proactively fight fire with fire by automatically detecting, analysing and defeating attacks before they can wreak havoc. Using AI technology in tandem with human intelligence, enterprises will gain the edge they need to more effectively protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their most valuable assets, both digital and physical. And because cyber-attackers are constantly upping their game, leveraging the same technological capabilities against them will ultimately become the most potent defence.

3. Chatbots Will Become Standard

Despite the fact that chatbot technology has already infiltrated the consumer market, adoption has been somewhat sluggish at the enterprise level. We should, however, begin to see greater adoption of these technologies during the coming months, particularly in customer-facing industries, such as banking and health care. AI-powered voice assistants, similar to Siri and Alexa, represent a significant opportunity for those in customer service, whether external or internal (i.e. help desk personnel). Not only will the addition of chatbots create a more efficient and interactive experience for the end-user, but it will also help lighten the load for organisations whose staff are already stretched thin.

4. AI Will Dramatically Improve UX

As mentioned, there is virtually an infinite amount of data available to business leaders today. Harnessing that information and transforming it into something useful is another area where AI will truly begin to make its mark on the enterprise. By gathering the right information, identifying patterns, and continuously adapting itself, machine learning technology is capable of delivering greater value to the end user, both internally as well as from a customer service standpoint. As a result, enterprises can leverage AI to automatically create a user experience that is fluid, efficient, and far more personalised.

5. AI Will Facilitate Better, More Data-Driven Decisions

Humans are naturally influenced by emotions. Even the most dispassionate individual can fall victim to bias and prejudice, often without even being cognizant of the influence their subconscious assumptions have on their decision-making process. Artificial intelligence operates similar to the human mind, but without the preconceived notions and underlying emotions. Leveraging this will enable companies to avoid bias and unintentional discrimination in a variety of areas, from hiring and customer care to operations and beyond.

In a global economy as ruthlessly competitive as ours, the ability to make better decisions will become a key differentiator for organisations striving for sustainable success.