Over the last ten years or so, artificial intelligence solutions have spread to every company department. This even extends to their structure and support functions. Human resources, accounting and finance, marketing and sales are all seeking to improve their operational efficiency through AI.
When the French-commissioned report on artificial intelligence, authored by mathematician Cédric Villani, winner of the 2010 Fields Medal, was published on Wednesday 28 March 2018 at the Collège de France, we were far from imagining how quickly these technologies would spread through the economy and that, five years later, machines would be proficient in both prose and pixels.
This extremely rapid deployment is mainly due to the ubiquity of IT in our businesses and the transformational power of artificial intelligence, which improves operational efficiency and enables new services to be created. For these reasons, artificial intelligence has a use in every department in the company. And in fact, it can be found everywhere, already!
The office tools in Microsoft's Office suite (Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Teams) already systematically incorporate AI functions. Gmail's anti-spam function is also AI. A particularly effective AI, when you consider that 25.7% of e-mails received in electronic mailboxes in 2022 are spam. Voice dictation, just like text-to-speech and multilingual translation, is AI.
Various Egis Business Lines are already using artificial intelligence solutions, particularly in the field of natural language processing and machine vision. Let us now take a moment to look at the predictive capacity of AI, another tool widely used within the Egis group. This capacity, which enables us to make a statistical prediction of a future event based on a large amount of internal and/or external data, is proving particularly useful in many areas of operation.
Egis uses this capacity most notably in infrastructure maintenance. By combining machine learning, connected sensors and operational expertise, Egis can predict the best times for its interventions and thus reduce the number of unplanned interventions. In other words, act when it’s list useful to do so! The aim is to avoid having to bear the costs incurred by excessive preventive maintenance. Pilot projects have already been carried out by the Consulting and Operation BL in Ireland (Dublin tunnel), Australia (Tunnel network) and Turkey (EIT).
But the use of artificial intelligence is not restricted to operations. It is also having an impact on all the company's 'support functions', as this quick overview will show:
First and foremost, the financial disciplines (accounting, finance, management control), which are governed by a large number of rules and standards and have access to vast amounts of data, are increasingly frequent users of artificial intelligence solutions.
For example, AI's machine vision capabilities are often used to identify and interpret accounting documents and then automate certain entries. Similarly, with natural language processing, AI can interpret an email request (from a supplier, for example) and respond to it (either by automatically generating the response, or by retrieving it from a database). Similarly, automated reporting and data visualisation are now widespread in the industry. It's a safe bet that the 'comment generation' function will soon be integrated into software such as Sheets or Excel.
Artificial intelligence is also increasingly present in the human resources department. Here, the technology is proving to be a particularly effective assistant for repetitive tasks or those requiring the processing of large amounts of data.
Two frequent use cases are now widespread in industry. The first concerns workforce and skill mapping and planning, a complex and highly strategic subject. Today, many AI-based tools are specialised in this area. They interface seamlessly with HRIS systems and are increasingly cropping up in job and career management programmes.
The second addresses the subject of recruitment and, in particular, the very first filter of applications received. This first filter consists of excluding "irrelevant" applications, i.e., those that do not correspond to the job description. This saves a significant amount of time.
Marketing departments are also major users of AI, which is useful and effective for a wide range of operations.
Such is the case when it comes to personalising interactions with customers, generating advertising hooks, translating content or producing illustrative images. Artificial intelligence is also an SEO champion. It can extract keywords, write meta-descriptions or create title levels in a huge number of variations and languages.
As we can see, AI is everywhere!
It can be integrated into existing business software or, in some cases, used as the basis for a new tool. It is changing our ways of working and increasing our productivity. Yet this technology can be complex. It remains difficult to develop. The quality of training datasets and algorithms, as well as project governance, are key factors in the success of AI.