Numerous experts predict that 2019 will be the year when an increasing number of organizations will bring artificial intelligence (AI) into their operations. Here are five reasons why.

1. Customer Service Chatbots Are Improving

One common kind of AI that many people already know well is the chatbot.

Research from IDC estimates that 40 percent of digital transformation initiatives will use AI in 2019, and if 2018 is any indication, much of the spending on such projects will go toward chatbots. The IDC study shows organizations spent $2.4 billion on automated customer service agents in 2018.

Aside from customer service chatbots getting smarter, people are getting more accustomed to interacting with them. Companies ranging from H&M to Sephora rely on chatbots to enhance their customer experiences.

Humans often monitor the ones used today, and those people step in to handle more complex queries. These hybrid person-machine processes will help AI thrive in 2019, analysts say.

Chatbots can always respond, even outside of business hours, and instant feedback could reduce customers’ frustrations. For those reasons and others, companies that have been holding out will likely decide that 2019 is the time to start using chatbots.

2. AI Helps Companies Understand Market Preferences

Another reason more companies will make the leap to AI in 2019 is that the technology could help them uncover insights that would otherwise remain hidden. The results of a two-year AI project equipped a Coca-Cola bottler to drive sales and reduce servicing costs by using AI to learn and make predictions about the drinks people want.

The company combined AI with a big data platform and discovered they should put more lemonade in an entertainment venue’s vending machines because the roadies who set up for shows liked that beverage. Also, the interface showed that an energy drink didn’t sell well in a hospital’s emergency room, prompting the company to stock less in the machine.

The AI platform works with the existing software in more than 19,000 machines that bottling company handles. It can even provide what-if scenarios that explore what might happen if the bottler stocks a product in a particular outlet.

3. AI Gives a Competitive Advantage

Automation experts assert it’s not enough for companies to merely use AI. They must maximize the competitive advantage received from it. Companies can do that in various ways depending on the needs of a respective industry.

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