Artificial intelligence is often overlooked by business owners. Most people think of science fiction movies when someone mentions AI, not realizing that there are currently many real-world applications for it. Contractors may seem like an unlikely choice to benefit from AI technology, but the reality is that AI can streamline many processes, drastically reducing overhead costs. Here are some of the ways that artificial intelligence can change the face of your contracting company.
Robots for Labor
Robotics and AI go hand-in-hand, and robots are already being used on construction sites to perform monotonous or dangerous tasks, such as demolition, concrete dispensing, bricklaying, and welding. As of 2017, research is being done to implement robots that are capable of surveying architecture, improving human-machine interfaces for construction gear, and predicting hazards on the job to prevent accidents. Robots may seem like a major investment, and there’s no denying the large upfront costs, but when you consider the long-term savings, you realize that there’s quite a bit of potential there.
Software for Communication
Instead paying an employee to sit at a desk and respond to emails and schedule appointments, you can utilize AI software, such as Conversica that works as a virtual assistant for online communication and assistance. AI software can also identify and contact potential leads, generating a larger client base while freeing valuable employee resources. Many contractors don’t have the budget to hire a customer support and marketing team, so AI software with Chatbots can be an excellent alternative.
Many contractors worry about machines making their positions redundant, but the reality is that humans and intelligent machines can be quite complementary. In the world of contracting, there will always be jobs that require a human touch. There are also plenty of tasks that can be performed quickly and efficiently by machines. Automation is most obviously used in building and manufacturing, but it’s also become prevalent for transportation as well, which can be very useful for contractors who travel regularly. In 2016 in Ontario, The University of Waterloo, the Erwin Hymer Group, and BlackBerry QNX launched the first automated vehicle pilot program in Canada. Autonomous trucks can “learn” to follow the exact route and speed of the human-driven leader truck, reducing the need for multiple drivers.
Most businesses recognize the importance of having a human in charge of their financial sectors, so AI software shouldn’t replace your accounting department entirely, but incorporating AI software as another tool, just as a computer or calculator can help your accounting department work more efficiently. AI software on its own isn’t capable of critical human abilities and characteristics, such as professional judgment, skepticism, and the face-to-face interactions that help to reinforce financial advice, but AI software is capable of performing fast actions that take humans significantly more time and effort. So, by combining the benefits of human bookkeepers with AI software, your contracting company can have the best of both worlds. Quill is one such AI software company that reduces much of the tedious work involved in accounting. This software can take data and nearly instantly turn it into a written document identical to one created by a human. This presents many opportunities, including the ability to generate earnings reports in mere seconds. As artificial intelligence continues to develop, there is no doubt that forward-thinking contractors will find new ways to use it to gain the competitive edge. Start off small with software, and, as you become more comfortable with AI technology, you may want to consider investing in robotics, automated machines, and even autonomous vehicles. Keep your ear to the ground for new technologies, and think about their long-term potential. AI could very well be the future of many labor jobs, and now is the time to learn about new opportunities on the horizon.