Artificial intelligence, with the human touch, is building a new customer experience
Artificial Intelligence is the definitive technology of the 21st century. All businesses of every size, in every industry will be impacted by AI. In the age of the connected customer, every 1 in 5 U.S. adults are almost never offline, customer experience is the battleground for true differentiation. Today, every successful consumer application is powered by AI. Tomorrow, every successful business will be powered by AI. The line-of-business that is most likely to embrace AI first will be the customer service – typically the most process oriented and technology savvy organization within most companies. But before we dig into AI’s tremendous potential in transforming customer service, let’s scope AI’s market size and growth projections.
The Artificial Intelligence (AI) Market Size and Future Projections
Today, 38% of enterprises are already using artificial intelligence (AI), growing to 62% by 2018. Forrester is predicting a 300% increase in AI investments in 2017 compared to 2016 and IDC believes AI will be a $47 billion market by 2020. Forrester lists the top 10 AI technologies here:
Gartner named Intelligence – Applied AI and Advance Machine Learning, Intelligent Apps, and Intelligent Things – as 3 of its top 10 strategic technology trends for 2017.
“AI and machine learning have reached a critical tipping point and will increasingly augment and extend virtually every technology enabled service, thing or application. Creating intelligent systems that learn, adapt and potentially act autonomously rather than simply execute predefined instructions is primary battleground for technology vendors through at least 2020.” — Gartner
AI & Advanced Machine Learning: “AI and machine learning (ML), which include technologies such as deep learning, neural networks and natural-language processing, can also encompass more advanced systems that understand, learn, predict, adapt and potentially operate autonomously. Systems can learn and change future behavior, leading to the creation of more intelligent devices and programs.” — Gartner
The disruptive power of AI will impact every business, in every industry. According to Gartner, by 2020, 20% of companies will dedicate workers to monitor and guide neural networks. Gartner advises CIOs to look at areas of the company that have large data sets but lack analytics. AI can provide augmented intelligence with respect to discovery, predictions, recommendations and automation at scale.
“Any industry with very large amounts of data — so much that humans can’t possibly analyze or understand it on their own — can utilize AI.” — Gartner
PWC named Artificial Intelligence (AI) as one of the eight essential technologies in business. Today, there are 1,652 artificial intelligence (AI) startups and private companies that have captured over $12.24 billion of funding.
The power of artificial intelligence is mass personalization and contextual intelligence at scale. According to Accenture’s 2017 Technology Vision Report, AI could double annual economic growth rates by 2035. Accenture also notes that AI is the new UI. “AI is becoming the new user interface (UI), underpinning the way we transact and interact with systems. Seventy-nine percent of business leaders agree that AI will revolutionize the way they gain information from and interact with customers. As AI takes over more of the user experience, it grows beyond just an intelligent interface. With each customer interaction becoming more personalized, powerful, and natural, AI moves into an even more prominent position: your digital spokesperson,” —Accenture Technology Vision 2017
AI Implementation Realities in the Enterprise
Although Amazon’s Alexa, has evolved from 1,000 voice command interpretations (or skills) to now more than 10,000 skills in one year period, there is still a lot of AI progressto be made before machines can truly understand and guide next best actions.
Robots, AI will replace 7% of US jobs by 2025 – Forrester. Here are the highlights of the report:
- 16% of US jobs will be replaced, while the equivalent of 9% jobs will be created — a net loss of 7% of US jobs by 2025.
- Office and administrative support staff will be the most rapidly disrupted.
- The cognitive era will create new jobs, such as robot monitoring professionals, data scientists, automation specialists, and content curators: Forrester forecasts 8.9 million new jobs in the US by 2025
- 93% of automation technologists feel unprepared or only partially prepared to tackle the challenges associated with smart machine technologies.
The future of work projections and AI’s impact on jobs may appear aggressive and somewhat unrealistic. In order to better understand the realities of AI in business, it is important to define phases and prerequisite of AI deployments in large businesses.
The three key phases of enterprise AI roll out: data, algorithms, and workflows. The power of AI usefulness is a function of the quality and quantity of data. Algorithms will help deliver insights – discovery, prediction, recommendation and automation of existing manual processes require strong, self-learning and adaptable algorithms. The final phase and the most challenging is the workflows. The constant iteration of analyzing data, researching and developing algorithms, and creating timely actions based on gleaned insights through robust workflows is the job of data scientists and line-of-business people experts. Workflows that guide customer engagements must not be automated to a point where businesses lose sight on the importance of the human touch, empathy and relationship building aimed at earning the right to be a trusted advisor and strategic business partner.
For most companies, the algorithms and workflow complexities will the use of augmented intelligence. This is especially true for complex customer relationship management workflows in B2B customer service functions. That said, there is exponential growth in AI innovation and advancements and companies cannot afford to tag AI as hype, only to find themselves significantly behind their competitors in 1-2 years. AI knowledge, planning and adoption must happen now.
The Role of AI in Customer Service
Today machines have the ability to interact with humans at a level that used to only seem possible in sci-fi movies. Amazon serves up personalized product recommendations, Facebook automatically tags photos and Google maps proactively reroutes you around traffic. AI is powering nearly every experience we have— making it smarter, seamless and personalized— and as a result our expectations as consumers are at an all-time high. The most indispensable consumer apps are powered by AI technologies, delivering real personalized value, in real-time. This seamless personalized, immediate and intelligent user experience will make its way to every business, across all industries. AI in business will create motion and flow-based solutions and services. In order for customer service leaders to stay relevant, they must think differently and educate their stakeholder about AI. AI allows companies to deliver these smarter, more personalized and predictive experiences that customers have come to expect, but the human touch is still table stakes for customer success. The most suitable line-of-business to start with AI? Customer Service.
According to Salesforce research, 92% percent of senior executives believe that customer experience is a key competitive differentiator and they view customer service as the primary vehicle for improving the customer experience. In order for customer service organizations to lead customer experience transformation, they must fully embrace, deploy and utilize AI technologies.
What does excellent customer service look like? According to research, excellent customer service is personalized, always on and real-time, consistent and omni-channel. To achieve customer service excellence, service organization must leverage AI to bolster their discovery, prediction, recommendation and automation engines.