Transforming African Businesses Using Big Data and Artificial Intelligence

The influence of technology on businesses is massive. It has been projected that artificial intelligence (AI) will increase the global GDP by $15.7 trillion in 2030, increased productivity is expected to contribute $6.6 trillion and $9.1 trillion to be realised from consumption effects. Also, augmentation that allows artificial intelligence and people to work together to record improved performance will generate $2.9 trillion of business value and worker productivity of about 6.2 billion hours globally. To compete in global framework, Africa must embrace and fully deploy innovative technology. Industries like transportation, agriculture, health, education, marketing, media, security, and aviation are presently undergoing some kinds of change in their business processes due to technological advancement. All these changes are projected to be more transformational in the near future and it is imperative to solve exclusive problems and fast-track Africa economic development. To achieve Africa business transformation, an all-inclusive region framework must be formulated to usher in a scheme by involving public and private sectors, academicians, and Pan-Africa right from its inception. Additionally, these collaborators must also participate in developing a platform for all Africans with dependable data banks for artificial intelligence and big data analytics serving as a viable economic alternative. Going by this, it is important to grasp freely available indigenous talent as a path to support and standardise big data analytics and artificial intelligence in Africa. Businesses are witnessing drastic evolution in their operational processes due to the deployment of technologically advanced systems. These changes will force business owners to move from customary employment process to hiring personnel that can offer services artificial intelligence cannot do, more preference will be given to employees that possess emotional intelligence, creativity, critical thinking skills, and excellent interpersonal skills.

Transforming businesses using big data analytics

Data is life and it has surpassed oil as the world’s most prized resource. Worldwide Business and Big Data Analytics market was projected to increase from $192.24 billion in 2019 to $446.42 billion by the end of 2025 at 15.7% CAGR. To excel in business of today, much efforts must be put in data capturing, storage and most importantly converting it into real-time results. Big Data denotes huge volumes of raw, crude data, while data analytics is the process of transforming this data into valuable insights. This can be customarily achieved by applying an algorithm to find and detect important trends and relationships between separate data sets. It was revealed that Africa produces less than 1% of the world’s research data. Most people have resulted to mobile market which is thriving positively, more smartphones in Africa implies better connectivity, therefore enhanced data accessibility. To move Africa businesses forward, there is an urgent needs to leverage on existing data. Big data analytics has the influence to change virtually every business in any industry. African businesses can benefit from big data analytics in following ways:

i. Increased Efficiency

The intuition offered by big data analytics are fundamental in classifying what is needed and what is not. Information retrieved from data analytics can be used by businesses to redirect their energies to most lucrative areas like boosting internal efficiency and driving revenues.

ii. Maximise Customer Worth

In Africa business, big data analytics offers an exceptional platform to learn and understand customer and their purchasing trends. This can further help them to institute and provide customers need by offering right products and services appropriately.

iii. Enhance Market Understanding

Through data analytics, meaningless information are being turned into useful insights and noticeable trends.  Thereby showing different structures within the industry, information decipher through this noticeable trends helps to fully understand the market and ways of operation. Thus, it helps in making a well-versed tactical decisions and anticipate unforeseen circumstances.

Information retrieved from data analytics contains evident patterns and trends showing relationship between data sets, which enables businesses to identify and forestall both current and evolving drifts that is key to holding competitive superiority.

How businesses can be transformed using artificial intelligence

Africa is on course for massive deployment of artificial intelligence, governments, entrepreneurs, businesses, and companies are working out to keep up with     Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Due to aggressive investment by companies and industries in AI-enabled system, the expected spending on artificial intelligence is projected to be more than double to $79.2 billion in 2022 with CAGR of 38.0% over an estimated period from 2018 to 2022 according to Worldwide Artificial Intelligence Spending Guide. Artificial intelligence is still far from full-time adoption in Africa, nonetheless these innovative technologies will play a leading role in many businesses. Innovative technologies are one of the key factors in attracting global relevancy, it is important that both local entrepreneur and companies must embrace the implementation of artificial intelligence to support their business. Top areas of application of AI in Africa includes Healthcare, Security, Transportation Agriculture, Culture, and business startups. Some of the ways artificial intelligence can transform Africa businesses includes:

i. Enhanced Customer Experience

The impact of AI on businesses cannot be overemphasised, one of its impression is customer experience. In e-commerce, 49% of customer prefer to buy online, and 38% will narrate their experience to their friends. 83% of the customers that partook in the study prefer to shop from retailers with AI-based systems or chatbots according to PointSource research. With smart application, artificial intelligence will improve experience and engagement of customers through virtual assistant, chatbots, and 24 hours/365 days.

  1. Virtual Assistant: Artificial intelligence-based virtual assistant are being used to answer modest questions presented by the customer. This system can be used as a platform for employee’s frequently asked questions, a valued tools for talent recruit and also serving as a teaching assistant.
  2. 24 hours/365 days: Artificial intelligence systems are efficient, and economical than humans. This AI-based system does not sleep, and doesn’t get sick, it was designed such that it is readily available every hour of the day to respond to customer’s hitches and questions.
  3. Chatbots: These bots are designed to address customer’s problem and proffer an on-spot solutions to it. It is capable of providing swift customer support without emotion, and they possess little judgement error. The primary function of chatbots in businesses is as virtual agent for an exact application, brand, or service. Some of the work of chatbots includes to complete online transactions, or get customer support.

ii. Effective Hiring Process

Hiring is one of the most challenging tasks in business. In driving a successful business, finding the right employees is crucial for the company’s success, and recruiting erroneous ones can cost a treasure. Recruiters can plan interviews using latest artificial intelligence solutions like X.ai and ClearFit to save time in searching and choosing the right applicant. Artificial intelligence will improve Africa businesses hiring process by reducing human errors and bad judgments when selecting the right employee.

iii. Smart Production Management

Since the beginning of industrialisation era, production industries and companies could only employ machine to carry out a single task at a time. Since the deployment of artificial intelligence, production decisions has been made easier and machines are more capable of multitasking. Data gathered from unified machines and equipment can be analysed by AI to predict projected load using a definite deep learning network, useful insights retrieved from such data can be turned into set of instructions to drive business production intelligently.

iv. Quicker Decision Making

Decision making is extremely essential in business environments. Present artificial intelligence systems feed on a steady diet of big data retrieved from day-to-day business activities. This intelligence system then provides managers with refined models for their decision making processes. The following are AI applications that improve decision making capacities in business:

a. Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

A CRM system incorporated with artificial intelligence support many programmed tasks, such as data collection, evaluation and lead standing, and contact management. Artificial intelligence’s buyer personality modelling can also forecast customer’s time value.

b. Recommendation System

AI-based recommendation systems study customer preferences and suggest contents that fit those preferences. Information retrieved from this system can help to craft superior targeted content, thereby reducing bounce rate.

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