I do research into A.I., and often work with companies. I find problem fall into 3 categories. Approximately:
50% of problems are extremely trivial problems which we've know how to solve for at least 10 years, we just need to help the companies use the existing techniques.
15% of problems require techniques from the last 10 years or so, so require extensive up-to-date expertise but aren't interesting research.
5% of problems are interesting, hard problems which lead to interesting research problems.
30% of problems are so far beyond the state of the art they are impossible.
Helping people in that first 50% solve their problems without having to talk to us is an interesting area. At the moment they use tools like Excel and Microsoft Access. I believe there must be better tools for those problems, which aren't any more complicated. Why can't my mother easily produce (for a concrete example) create and update a schedule for her darts league, without needing me to help?