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How basic AI software is already changing the way we work

In the past, receiving any form of software error, God forbid the dreaded washing machine, was a death sentence for your precious free time.

Translating ‘ERR 47’ into something marginally comprehensible meant trawling through equally convoluted troubleshooting tables, until trial and error resulted in a fix or that inevitable contact with ‘Support’.

Luckily, those days are almost behind us. Artificial intelligence may still be eluding some of our greatest human minds, but every step taken towards computer sentience is creating the very building blocks we are all using online today.

We call this Machine Learning; essentially the toddler that will eventually become the amazing (and often frightening) AI automatons of Hollywood.

Following are some relatively simple AI software applications already shaping the ways in which we work and play.

Dear Inventory

Anyone who has ever encountered an error or warning within DEAR Inventory knows how easily the software lays out the solution alongside the error. Try and ‘stock adjust’ a product back into stock that was sold previously and DEAR will suggest you process a return on the sale first.

This is far more useful than simply not allowing you to proceed and leaving you high and dry to work out why.


All-in-one cloud inventory software Cin7 is another great example of AI smarts.

Take the action of importing products. Cin7 checks duplicates and asks for a rule on each one, then it checks the data. If the supplier doesn’t exist, you can either create it or map it for every item. If there are failures, Cin7 remembers the mapping and the changes, and provides a report with a column describing the failure so you can correct and upload.

Cin7 uses its system logic to assist you completely through the importation/mass manipulation of your product database. It suggested fixes and ways to clean up your database as you go. Basically anything out of the ordinary is presented back with logical steps suggested to avoid ruining your hard work.

It was this amazingly comprehensible import process that both surprised and pleased us enough to write this article in the first place.

New Google Explore in Docs, Sheets and Slides

Google and Apple are in the midst of a head-to-head race to convince their customers who has the smartest AI-fuelled assistant.

We’re all familiar with Siri’s chipper cheekiness, and Google Assistant’s almost psychic level of comprehension. However let’s focus on what is happening behind the curtain in software we use day-to-day; specifically the newly released feature for Google Docs, Sheets and Slides.

If you’re not familiar with these software solutions, they are Google’s cloud-based equivalent to Microsoft Office, offering unparalleled levels of collaboration. Explore is a new feature added late September – essentially the pesky and often useless Microsoft Paperclip of the 90s, upgraded (with the power of machine learning) into the practical and irreplaceable assistant we deserve in 2016.

Say you’re looking at a dauntingly large spreadsheet of your annual sales report and simply want to know the average sale value by sales person. Simply ask Explore ‘Average Sales Value by Sales Person’ and you will be presented with a breakdown.

No formulas, no time wasted.  Click here for a brief snapshot.

Of course, Explore goes beyond data analysts to look at presentations and suggest and create designs and animations that best suit your content.

As you can see, AI is already amongst us, at least in its infancy. But even in its most basic form, we’re finding the ability for computers to better understand us is providing seamless efficiency.

Now if I could only work out how to fix my washing machine.