By: Kamal Ahluwalia
Another Microsoft Envision is now in the books. This year in Orlando and like the previous Envision in New Orleans, the primary focus and topic of conversations across the event was driving digital transformation. However, something clearly noticeable at this year’s event was the interest and level of discussion around the topic of artificial intelligence (AI).
The use of AI in the enterprise no longer seems to be merely an aspiration for the distant future. Instead, AI is entering into the consciousness of more business leaders and already a reality for a growing number of forward-thinking businesses. One need look no further than Microsoft products like Dynamics 365, Teams, and Office 365 to see how technologies like Microsoft Cognitive Services, Machine Learning, and Bot framework are poised to enable a new generation of intelligent applications.
One of the biggest challenges that has limited the broader use of AI within enterprise applications has been the lack of use cases to make it actionable and consumable. For all the talk of the possibilities that AI could bring to bear, there were very few ways to apply it to real-life business processes. While it seemed that there were many sessions and conversations about the use of AI at Envision, there were few examples of AI being used in a practical sense.
One such example of “applied AI” was on display in Apttus’ Envision session titled Leveraging Applied AI to Accelerate Digital Transformation and Maximize Business Outcomes which drew so much interest, that it was standing room only. During the session, Alex Clemente of Harvard Business Review (HBR) provided an early preview of an HBR study on how businesses can use applied AI with B2B processes and commerce. For example, the study found that sixty percent of executives believe their future success depends on the successful implementation of AI. Alex also provided several use cases for AI to streamline common sales processes such as recommending products to cross-sell and up-sell and providing guidance on prices and discounts. He also shared what HBR sees unfolding in the future with respect to the use of applied AI in the enterprise.
The session provided a few examples of how AI can be used to simplify interaction with Dynamics 365, Teams, and Office 365 to help drive digital transformation. For example, Apttus has developed and demonstrated an AI-driven virtual assistant that uses a conversational interface to simplify a range of business applications. You can expect the number of uses cases and innovations to grow exponentially in the near future. By the next Microsoft Envision, who knows how pervasive applied AI will have become. We look forward to being there to see the progress firsthand.