How AI is Changing the Face of Business

The SMU Cox School of Business Online MBA prepares students for open roles in the field of AI.

Woman holding smartphone overlaid with holographic brain shape and symbols for technological concepts

This blog was originally published in May 2020, and was revised in April 2023.

rtificial intelligence (AI) is more than just a buzzword associated with ChatGPT – it’s the future of big data. In a two-year period, humans created 90% of the world’s data, and AI is improving constantly as the amount of data grows. AI refers to intelligence developed by machines as a result of processing massive amounts of data; it simulates the plasticity of human intelligence by continuously learning. While the first AI programs were built by computer scientists, a number of tools now exist to allow someone without a programming background to access the insights delivered by AI. As a result, business leaders are able to use AI themselves to make decisions for their companies, and these insights can deliver strong returns. For example, government leaders could save $3.3 billion annually with AI, and tech-savvy business leaders are critical to ensuring that these changes are implemented. In order to benefit from the time and cost-savings of artificial intelligence, leaders must be willing to understand and apply new AI technology.

Emerging Trends in AI

Artificial Intelligence careers are expected to change rapidly in the coming years. Having leaders on top of current changes in the field is extremely valuable because AI evolves rapidly with new technology. To understand its impact, we’ll examine how the field has changed in the last five years as well as how it will change in the next five years.

How Has AI Changed Business in the Last Five Years?

Business intelligence has been one of the biggest fields transformed by AI. The cost of memory has decreased rapidly, so smaller companies are able to store massive amounts of data without a large initial investment. Therefore, even tech startups are able to leverage AI in much the same way a company like Google would, and it’s critical that business leaders be willing to use it. These business intelligence insights allow for predictive analytics that could save a retail company money on advertising, allow marketers to target a product more effectively in online ads, and cut down on the costs of production.

Additionally, tools have emerged that allow a user to access AI insights without installing a client or having an AI engineer on hand. HTML5, for example, is a newer version of HTML that allows for automated AI tools to be used in a web browser without employing a programmer or AI expert. UX designers are still necessary for wrapping the AI tools in something a non-technical user can access, but it has become much easier for a business leader to make use of AI insights. As companies of all sizes are now able to reap the rewards of AI developments, leaders should respect the value of leveraging these innovations.

How Will AI Change Business in the Next Five Years?

As the amount of data grows, the power of AI grows with it, revolutionizing nearly every aspect of business. One area that will be transformed by AI is transparency. AI enables more data to be made available, and, as a result, users can be empowered to access their own information. For example, in healthcare, as more data on patients is stored and processed, customers should be able to understand their own medical data and make their own decisions on preventative care. Business leaders committed to transparency will benefit from the changes that AI will bring. Additionally, with increased transparency comes an increased need for business leaders with a background in the ethics and legality of data analytics and artificial intelligence.

AI will become more integrated into every workflow in the next five years. Even with current technology, usage will become more widespread. In a recent study, 66 percent of businesses reported that they deploy AI technologies for business process automation to eliminate inefficiencies, and this number is expected to rise. Businesses will also be more prepared to use data automatically in a company’s workflow, regardless of the size of the business. With this expanding usage of AI, business leaders must ensure that AI works alongside human employees, instead of replacing them. 69 percent of executives report that their employees fear AI will replace them, and having leaders who are able to integrate AI into the workflow while still making use of human capital will be critical.

AI Career Opportunities

Studies suggest that, by 2022, 30% of AI jobs will be open due to talent shortages. There will be demand for AI professionals in individual contributor roles, management positions, and executive careers.

For someone interested in the specifics of artificial intelligence and programming models, there are many Artificial Intelligence jobs opening up. Across the board, the salaries and demand for jobs in AI are rising. A Machine Learning Engineer earned an average of $134,000 in 2018, compared to only $97,000 for a Computer Scientist and $83,000 for a Statistician. While these roles are similar, the larger pay for someone with a background in machine learning specifically points to the need for individual contributors in the field of AI. An individual contributor does hands-on work to implement the AI algorithms, analyze the results of the programs, and suggest changes based on these results. Someone with a strong background in computer programming, business intelligence, and analytics would be an excellent fit for this position.

There is also a great demand for managers to oversee the implementation of AI technology. A Director of Analytics earned an average of $140,000 in 2018, and, according to KPMG, an AI Product Manager has been described as one of the five most important jobs in AI. A manager of an AI or data team is responsible for ensuring that the individual contributors are implementing AI algorithms effectively while working cross-functionally to educate other teams on the usage of these tools and the AI system. An AI manager needs a background in the technical skills for building an AI workflow while also utilizing their communication skills to engage other teams. For someone interested in both management and the specifics of AI technology, a role in AI management is an excellent career choice.

The need for executives willing to use AI to move their businesses forward is also growing rapidly. In fact, many companies are searching for a new role: The Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer (CAIO). As AI becomes integrated into every aspect of a company, it’s not enough to just have AI experts on individual teams – there needs to be a leader who can make sure it’s effectively used throughout the organization. The head of AI would work alongside the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Chief Intelligence Officer (CIO), both of which are also in increasing demand. In fact, the average pay for a CIO at a Fortune 500 company increased from $1.9 million in 2015 to $2.7 million in 2017, which points to the growing need for executives with a background in intelligence.

How the SMU Cox School of Business Can Prepare Students for a Career in AI

For someone interested in working as a leader in artificial intelligence, top business schools need to focus attention and curriculum around this new tech. To avoid the conversation would be to avoid the future of business. As such, the Cox School of Business Online MBA at Southern Methodist University offers the perfect set of coursework, with a level of flexibility that allows you to attend class from anywhere. The program emphasizes data analytics and leadership theory with practical applications in artificial intelligence and machine learning support. The program provides hands-on work and integrated experiential learning into each course, plus career services that include one-on-one coaching and interview prep.

The SMU Cox School of Business’ Online MBA prepares students to fill roles that are opening up in the field of AI by following the latest significant trends. In the first semester students take multiple courses both in management and in data analytics. With these foundations, students are prepared to enter careers in AI as either a manager of an AI team, an individual contributor, or an executive. Further coursework includes the ethics and legality of data analysis, strategic management, and executive leadership; everything critical to becoming a leader in AI.

Meet with an Online MBA admissions counselor, and begin your Cox MBA application, setting up a trajectory of being a leader truly equipped for the future.