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Productivity shortfalls prevail with Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications.
Productivity shortfalls prevail with Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications.

Artificial Intelligence: Over-capitalised and under-utilised

Interested in introducing Artificial Business to your business but need help figuring out where to begin? BARRY URQUHART explains the importance of strategy.

Productivity shortfalls prevail with Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications.

Investments in new AI hardware, systems and processes over the past 48 months have exceeded outlays for enhancing and introducing internal and external resources for the optimal use of that capacity.

Business owners and managers sense and suspect that inadequate and inappropriate internal skills are contributing to AI's sub-optimal performance and a lack of improvements in productivity, competitiveness, and customer service.

The arcane appears appropriate for AI in many Australian businesses, that is, “known and understood by few.”

An overwhelming majority of business owners, managers, and company directors are aware of AI's rapidly evolving capacities and the prospective advantages, benefits, and rewards of investing in it.

However, quantifying improvements in outputs have been and currently are limited. Verifying data is situational and tactical rather than strategic.

A majority of businesses that have invested $10,000 or more in artificial intelligence since January 2020 stated that they had not documented their strategic plans, outlays, or specifically defined goals, forecasts, and budgets.

Conflicted needs and priorities

A consensus among the owners and managers of small to medium-sized enterprises (that is, employing fewer than 120 people) is that commitments to the introduction of more artificial AI were in competition with investments.

The areas of particular concern in terms of business needs are Premises presentations, supply chains, warehouse/fulfilment centres, inventory levels, cash flow protection and growth, and resource (people) allocation.

The business fraternity is generally aware of the presence, needs for, and advantages of rapidly evolving modes of artificial intelligence.

The pressing, competing needs and priorities, together with contacting capital resources and sensitivities about the costs of doing business, are impeding and limiting the introduction of artificial intelligence in business operations.

"Structure, discipline, understanding, and commitment are imperatives for the effective introduction and deployment of AI programs in your business."

There is little evidence of verifiable improvements in performance, competitiveness and productivity among peer and associate entities.

Not surprisingly, the small and medium sized enterprise sector is currently hesitant to make substantial investments in artificial intelligence.

Extensive and intensive education is required to overcome important barriers.

Few managers doubt the potential of AI. Realising that potential is a fundamental issue.

Not one participating business owner, manager, or company involved in a recent study directly declared that their corporate literature, advertising, merchandising, and websites detailed the advantages, benefits, and rewards that AI provides or promises existing prospective clients and customers. Opportunities forsaken!

Emphasis on processes and efficiency tends to provide internal upsides.

Conspicuously lacking is the profiling of enticing and compelling outcomes that satisfy and fulfil customer needs, wants, and desires. The latter relates to effectiveness.

On balance, AI seems to have established prospective or existing efficiencies; however, it lacks the recognition, appreciation, and value associated with effectiveness.

AI investment template

Detailed below are some but not all sequential procedures that could reasonably be deemed imperative for the investment decisions related to AI.

  • Conduct an audit of existing technologies, innovations and AI programs.
  • Identify, analyse, and prioritise strengths and deficiencies.
  • Seek, isolate, and evaluate available, evolving and pending complementary AI modes.
  • Determine internal resources, expertise, training, and experience in deploying AI.
  • Investigate available resources from suppliers and external consultants for formulating, documenting and implementing AI.
  • Liaise with suppliers, associates, staff, clients, and customers to educate them about and use AI enhancement offerings.
  • Schedule and conduct periodic performance, productivity, and customer satisfaction reviews, seeking to identify possible refinements and enhancements.
  • Refine recruitment, induction, training and development procedures to include the integration of AI.
  • Integrate the goals, objectives, and tactics for artificial intelligence into the company's strategic plan.

Structure, discipline, understanding, and commitment are imperatives for effectively introducing and deploying AI programs in your business.

As I have written before, AI works best from an extensive existing database.

The benefits are immense when perceived through customer perspectives, particularly in terms of personalised customer service.

As with all things strategic, time and timing are fundamentals and should be respected.



Barry Urquhart

Contributor • Marketing Focus

Barry Urquhart is managing director of Marketing Focus. He has been a consultant to the retail industry around the world since 1980. Visit: or email

SAMS Group Australia

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