In 2016, as many as 38% of organisations across the globe were already using artificial intelligence (AI) in some aspect of their business operations. By 2018, this number is forecasted to reach 62%; and Scotland is one of the nation’s leading this global trend.

When you hear “AI applications”, you shouldn’t think of self-aware machines that are smarter than human beings. Instead, the phrase refers to purpose-built software capable of repeatedly and efficiently performing day-to-day, often mundane, tasks.

Typically, this involves scanning and organising large amounts of data (“big data”) to identify patterns so business leaders can make better informed decisions, though, increasingly, AI applications are able to suggest optimal business actions on their behalf.

The primary reason for the fast-paced advance in development and adoption of this technology is the growing number of tech start-ups around the world, and Scotland is firmly among them.

snap40 is a wearable, early detection, health care AI application, designed to reduce the time needed for doctors and nurses to diagnose illnesses, so they can get on with treating their patients. This cognitive technology integrates with existing monitors to detect patients’ symptoms and vital signs. It can then alert nurses and doctors of impending problems, allowing patients to receive higher quality, more personalised care, while freeing up staff to spend less time on routine assessments.

With so much focus on helping businesses make sense of big data collection, Glasgow-based start-up, Swipii, use AI to give power back to small businesses. The programme collects data on user shopping habits to construct personalised rewards programmes to keep customers coming back and spending more.

Another leader in machine learning application development is Africa, particularly in the realm of chatbots: AI programmes which use popular messaging systems to interact via text-to-text communication with the user. is a Nigerian-based start-up that has integrated a banking AI with popular messaging services; users can type the name of the person they want to send money to and how much, and the AI completes the transaction and responds as though you are speaking with a personal banker.

Sage has taken this technology one step further. The South African company has developed the world’s first accountancy chatbot, Pegg. Mimicking human tone and personality, this chatbot will help personal and business clients manage their accounts, observe trends, and even make suggestions to help you manage your money.

Meanwhile, US-based LeoForce has developed a recruiting AI, called Arya. Arya uses behavioural pattern recognition and big data analysis to scan thousands of online CVs and résumés over hundreds of professional social sites.

Using your select criteria and machine learning to constantly improve its profile matching, Arya helps businesses reduce hiring time by instantly finding suitable candidates for open positions, allowing employers to focus on the interviews more quickly.

With smart applications becoming more prevalent, this trend is set to continue. As Scotland positions itself to become a global hub in AI, there has never been a better time for companies of all sizes to embrace the power of artificial intelligence.