While data-driven artificial intelligence (AI) often dominates business and technology headlines these days, the coverage generally centers on the development of the technology. Yet for all the celebration around AI, the main concern for enterprises is still how they can get started with the technology, in order to generate actionable insights from their data.
Large technology-oriented organizations tend to build their own in-house data science team, which might not be the best approach for smaller companies with less resource or technical expertise. This is where AI-as-a-Service (AIaaS) could just be your alternative passage to AI-powered business.
In-House Data Science Team Is Not for Everyone
Although data science is one of the most in-demand professions worldwide, companies are facing a massive talent gap: There are more positions to fill than there are qualified data scientists available to fill them. Quality data scientists require a wide range of skills, which sometimes could vary depending on the nature of data to be analyzed and the scale and scope of work.
Apart from finding the right talent with the right expertise, recruiting them usually involves high salary, additional benefits, perks and a host of other incentives, as you might be competing with some of the best brands around the world.
Even if you invest in building a data science team, some of the roles may end up becoming obsolete. As AI continues to advance, data scientists are required to evolve as well. There will be an increasing trend towards both machine learning engineers and deep learning scientists, who can program AI to self-learn, which may set off another arm’s race for top talent.
Given the above challenges, companies can consider AIaaS as a fast lane to AI adoption for business.
AI off the Shelf
AI-as-a-Service is similar to the Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) from which its name derives. Businesses turn to SaaS providers for web-based software. In much the same way, enterprises can leverage AIaaS providers’ off-the-shelf AI tools and services for various needs, such as optimizing once-inefficient processes and saving on operating costs.
While adopting AI technology through AIaaS can help streamline your operation, it also allows you to focus on other core business functions, such as product development, marketing and sales, to make a significant impact on your business goals. For example, AI-powered customer segmentation and prediction enables you to understand customers more intimately, in order to offer a more engaging user experience, drive conversion and minimize customer churn.
“Although AI is being used to predict customer behavior to some extent, it will get a boost in the future. Businesses will use AI to detect if a customer is willing to purchase the product, seeking support or switching to another provider even before they actually approach,” said Liam Martin, Co-founder of Time Doctor, in The Next Web.
Estée Lauder, for example, wanted to raise brand awareness among young women online and drive mailing list sign-ups across all screens. It leveraged Appier’s CrossX AI technology to nurture and build a high value audience pool, effectively boosting cross-screen conversion by 300% to 1100%.
There are other benefits that companies turning to different AIaaS providers for their AI needs may experience, such as achieving insights and breakthroughs in data that humans may have overlooked, improving customer service through chatbots that are available around the clock, or helping protect their customer data through the use of smart contracts.
Finding the Right AIaaS Partner
Before you start a hunt for an AIaaS partner, you first need to identify the most valuable problem in your business that can be improved with AI, and what specific outcome you are trying to achieve.
With an increasing number of AIaaS providers available in the market, there are always basic questions to ask before you deciding on one, such as how they will harness your data or work with your own IT team. In addition, to ensure a smoother start, you also want to see whether the graphic user interface of the provider’s platform is easy to understand and navigate.
Look for evidence of the provider’s track record in the space. Successful AIaaS providers should be able to present you with case studies, research, reports, industry recognition and testimonials. When evaluating these materials, you will be able to see if they have successfully addressed the needs of enterprises with problems similar or even identical to your own.
Once you find your trusted AIaaS provider and go through their onboarding and integration process, you are set. You can begin optimizing, understanding, analyzing and predicting with precision and scale like never before.