Artificial intelligence has officially surpassed the realm of possibility, and is now in the realm of certainty. There's no need to ask yourself, "Will my business be using AI in the future?" You can be 99% certain that the answer is, "Yes."

The question you should be asking yourself instead is, "How can my business benefit from AI?" Will AI be part of your digital customer service solution? Will it help you close deals with clients? Will you integrate AI into your marketing outreach?

One of the things that makes AI so exciting--and so challenging--is that it's so versatile. There's no such thing as one-size-fits-all in AI. This is why AI is so perfectly suited to the age of the connected consumer. Connected consumers expect personalized, seamless customer experiences--and that's exactly what AI can offer.

Here are some of the ways we'll be seeing AI function in businesses across industries in the near future.

Improving data analysis--and data generation--for marketers

AI is already being used by 51% of marketers, while an additional 27% expect to start using it by 2019, according to a recent Salesforce report.

But how are they using it?

One way is to improve lead generation and scoring, so marketers can decide more effectively where to spend their time. By analysing a lead's online behavior, AI applications can offer more informed, more accurate information on what a lead is likely to be interested in, and how best to get them to convert.

But data analysis is just the beginning. As AI begins to mature, it's becoming better able to generate data, too.

According to a Business Insider report on AI in marketing, developers are creating AI applications that can both "see" and "hear," allowing them to pull data from content like video and audio. This could mean, for example, no longer needing to manually tag content so users can find it.

Offering more personal customer care

We're all familiar with the chatbot--that little box that pops up on so many websites and mobile apps to see if you need any help with anything.

Chatbots haven't been perfected yet, but they're getting pretty darn close. We've figured out, for example, that chatbots have to know when to direct a customer to a human agent--otherwise, they can end up worsening the customer experience.

However, chatbots aren't only there to talk to your customers. They also collect customer data. An AI customer care application can determine what words or phrases are correlated with better sales outcomes, or more satisfied customers.

With its data-collecting and analysis properties, it can also present customer data to your employees while they're engaging with your customers, setting the stage for a more positive customer engagement.

For connected consumers, it's this element that is particularly important. These customers want the brands they interact with to be knowledgeable about them--generic messaging just won't cut it anymore.

Improve hiring, training, and employee education

Another area for which AI is well-suited is your human resources department.

Hiring employees is a time-consuming, nuanced process, and AI can help immensely with some of the more administrative elements. AI applications can screen and research candidates far faster than a human, and they can even take those candidates through multiple levels of screening. This allows the human resources team to focus more time and energy on their in-person interviews.

When it comes to employee training and education, AI can have similar efficiency benefits.

Instead of having human employees spend a long period of time showing new recruits things like how to track expenses, process a customer complaint, or log hours on a project, companies can employ AI programs that can respond to the trainee and answer whatever questions they have. AI can even run adaptive simulations to present new employees with business situations they'll need to navigate, or customer interactions.

Then, more time is available for the human trainer to offer coaching and mentoring--two things that AI isn't yet able to do.

AI is coming to your industry whether your company is prepared or not. Now is the time to begin exploring how AI can help you make a real connection with the connected consumer, and best serve your business and your customers.