AI has dominated conversations across tech in 2023. As the hype cycle reaches a possible inflection point — from apocalyptic fears to sky-high hopes — real-life use cases for AI are coming down to something far more practical: efficiency.
Yahoo Finance spoke to tech company HP (HPQ) and carmaker BMW at the AWS re:Invent conference about how that practicality plays out in their businesses today. Both are Amazon (AMZN) Web Services customers, yet their AI efforts look distinctly different.
At HP, one key area of emphasis is using AI to improve and streamline workplaces, per HP workforce technology vice president Gaurav Roy. Its Workforce Experience Platform uses AI and machine learning to sift through real-time data to optimize the performance and safety of devices across large organizations.
Massive companies have thousands or tens of thousands of devices that they need to keep track of. The platform allows HP's clients to easily spot broken printers, out-of-warranty PCs, and more.
The platform also helps track employee engagement. The goal is to facilitate speedier workflows while retaining and improving the accuracy of organizations, said Roy.
One challenge in facilitating the widespread adoption of AI is the speed at which the technology is evolving.
"Over just the last couple months, the technology's development was super fast and nobody was expecting it," said Stephan Durach, BMW's senior vice president of Connected Company Development.
However, BMW isn't in a rush to apply AI in an effort to prioritize safety.
"We don't do beta testing with our customers, never," said Durach. "We don't do this because, at the end of the day, you'll get a 100% reliable product from us."
As of now, BMW has been using AI to enhance its customer service. It rolled out a service called "Proactive Care" this year, which uses AI to identify car troubles — from diagnosing tire problems to addressing service messages in the vehicle — then streamlines the process of customers and dealers communicating to solve it.
But the German automaker doesn't want to overwhelm customers with AI-powered features that may seem cool but are fundamentally invasive, distracting, or — after an initial rush of excitement — unwanted.
There's an element of trial and error, said Durach, and figuring out what works comes down to understanding what features BMW drivers actually use in their cars.
"We have the capability to understand what our customers are using in their cars pretty well," he told Yahoo Finance. "So we know exactly what the kinds of features getting used are, and what kinds of situations they're getting used in."
In 2024, the company plans to launch BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant, which is AI-powered and integrates Amazon's Alexa to enhance the in-car conversation between drivers and their vehicles.
Both Durach and HP's Roy agree that the process of rolling out these products should be a careful one, in which the companies know their AI-based features inside and out.
"Anything we roll out to the world, we've tried it out first at HP," Roy told Yahoo Finance. "We say we're able to drink our own champagne."