When company leaders consider Artificial Intelligence (AI), they often do so in one of two ways. Some business owners believe that it is merely a customer-facing gimmick. There are then those that are convinced it is mere science fiction. However, the reality is very different. We have already seen that AI is being integrated into various platforms and ecosystems that are being used in organisations for their Digital Transformation. AI has been massively hyped over the last year and we are seeing the hype die down and real-life use cases are now emerging as the pressure on ROI intensifies. With that being said, I’m going to explore AI & digital transformation in further depth in this post.
It is certainly worth considering how important AI will be with regards to digital transformation when you compare it with the other triggers and technology that have gotten us to this point: our current digital-minded presence. There are so many things that have changed the way we think about technology. If we take a step back, the Internet is the most obvious example. You then have the likes of mobile devices and machine learning. These all signified paradigm shifts with regards to how we view and consume technology. They caused companies, big and small, to initiate and drive digital transformation agendas.
Is AI going to have as much of a profound impact on digital transformation?
Of course, I’m taking an educated a guess here, but all of the evidence points to one answer: yes. However, we can also say that it will do so in more of a subtle way based on the sifting through the hype to develop actual solutions for business. You can’t pick AI up from a shelf in your local IT store. You can’t install it at your company. You could do this with the Internet and with mobile phones, but with AI, you can’t. In academic terms, AI has more in common with a programming language, and this very fact means that a lot of people do not even realise that they are already using elements of AI within their company today. Therefore, it is important to assess what organisations are doing to support their digital transformation efforts.
What are companies doing to support digital transformation?
According to research that has been conducted by IFS, call centre technology is one of the big movements for businesses when it comes to digital transformation. When you consider this, it is not hard to see how AI could improve a call centre. Chatbots being the most obvious example. Chatbots are currently in varying states of sophistication. By improving AI, chatbots can be much more effective; they will be less labour intensive because they will be able to resolve remote problems a lot quicker. Of course, this is just one example. AI can play an even more significant role when it comes to assisting human technicians while they are taking a customer service call.
That’s the key: AI is there to assist not replace human interaction
There is no denying that people would rather talk to actual, verifiable humans if a problem occurs. If you were to experience an issue with your computer or your TV package, for example, you wouldn’t want to speak to a bot, would you? You would want a person to assist you. So, we won’t see AI fielding the call (well, we shouldn’t!). Instead, we will see AI listening in on the call, providing recommendations that can improve customer service outcomes while also saving a considerable amount of time in the process. There are two ways that this is being deployed today.
The first way in which this is being supported is through escalation. Certain systems have the ability to read conversation, tenor, and tone, serving up a directive that is appropriate without the need for a manager to be consulted. Let me provide an example of this to give you a better understanding. Let’s say that a customer has called because a technician failed to secure part of the machine they purchased after some routine maintenance and this has resulted in the machine malfunctioning. The customer is irritated. AI can pick this up in their tone, as well as taking in what they have said. Therefore, AI could recommend that a six-month complimentary maintenance plan is offered alongside a free repair. This process leads to the issue being resolved quickly and effectively without a manager needing to be consulted on the customer being put on hold, which is something no one enjoys!
Another way that AI is being used to support digital customer service is through speech recognition and parsing. This enables AI to diagnose any potential problems and supply you with solutions. This is beneficial because humans are only limited to issues they have seen previously, and as a result, some issues may be immediately challenging to diagnose by the customer service provider. However, a catalogue of symptoms can be created within an AI system, so AI can make real-time recommendations without the customer service advisor taking a lot of time to look through referencing material to find the solution.
Scheduling optimisation is another form of AI within digital transformation that I should mention. Scheduling optimisation today automates scheduling through taking the anticipated time of completion for each job, service appointments, and your available technician. However, AI enables these systems to self-improve because it works through adaptive learning. This means that more accurate time predictors can be made in terms of job completion.
All things considered, it is not hard to see the impact that AI is having today. And this is just the start of it! AI needs to be a consideration in a digital transformation strategy but make sure it makes sense as part of your overall business strategy. It may not be immediately relevant to your business but there’s no denying the impact that it can have in the future.