From the doctor’s office to the grocery store, computers are studying how we make decisions, express frustration, and even commit crimes. Machine learning goes way beyond Alexa jotting down your grocery list. Like a newborn discovering the world around him, computers are learning through observation. Using algorithms, computers sift through swatches of data to find patterns in human behavior, and can eventually learn how to problem-solve on their own, with little human intervention.

With their help, businesses are becoming more profitable, creative and efficient. In fact, one-third of CIOs believe that investing in smart machines will become a top priority by 2020, according to technology research company Gartner.

How can your company take advantage of machine learning?

1) Focus on the fundamentals

Rather than replace jobs, machines allow employees to focus on work essential to the core of the business. Instead of filing invoices and sorting through orders, employees can strategize and explore creative projects. At JP Morgan, for example, bots are now reviewing contracts and parsing deals, freeing up 360,000 hours of legal labor in seconds.


2) Sharpen your strategy

Machine learning has evolved from the menial tasks of a secretary, to the sought-after counsel of an advisor. Computers can now mine data to find inconsistencies, blind spots or unexplored opportunities, and offer suggestions of the best course of action in a strategic crossroad. Even on Wall Street, traders rely on computers to spot high value deals that may dodge the best broker.


3) Customize Cyberspace

By learning customer preferences, computers can now bring the intimacy and personalization of boutique shopping to the web. Using software like Google’s Adwords, companies can curate ads to match a customer’s style, discover the best time of day to pitch specific products, and even personalize their websites for different audiences. It’s the equivalent of walking to your favorite neighborhood joint and having the waiter remember your usual order.

To be sure, artificial intelligence still isn’t capable of doing the heavy lifting that keeps companies afloat. Leadership, creativity and management remain the building blocks of a great business. But given the speed at which machine learning is revolutionizing how we work, companies that fail to integrate these technologies risk being left behind.

Marina Lopes is a freelance reporter and producer covering technology, politics and economy. Her articles and videos have appeared in the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the BBC, NBC, and the PBS NewsHour.
Marina holds a graduate degree in journalism from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Boston College.

She speaks Portuguese, Spanish, English and French.

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