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on April 18, 2016 Customer experience Customer service

The consumer wants convenience

 

Previous post here.

We have already made passing mention of AI breakthroughs that have made the news, such as AlphaGo’s victory or Microsoft’s ill-fated Twitter bot, Tay. From an applicable business aspect, news was more thrilling in the recent months with how the big players are opening up their platforms to drive towards a chat-based, bot empowered future:

Microsoft opening up Cortana for developers

Slack’s new platform and venture fund for applications

Facebook messenger’s opening up to developers

The shift is already being coined a gold rush, akin to previous revolutions of search engine optimization, Facebook applications and social traffic driven websites. Businesses that are adopting early will see great returns, and we will likely see a whole new breed of operations rising up in this new environment.

A gold rush relies on an emerging economy to support it – in other words, people selling shovels.

Who is to empower the future? 

The shovel sellers of this era are the Cognition-As-A-Service providers: companies who have done the heavy lifting on language processing and machine learning. This allows businesses to tap in to this new market by employing reliable technology, leaving them with the task of integration instead of costly research and development. In other words, nobody needs to build up their tech stack from zero to support an intelligent chat bot that can communicate with their customers on the big messaging platforms, but can jump in the fray quite immediately.

Existing bot templates and CaaS APIs provide leverage, both to companies who’s core business is not involved in the AI market, as well as specialist development houses who utilize these tools to aid moving in to the new communication channels.

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The labor market is going to change (for the better)

But more importantly, the rise of off-the-shelf artificial cognition allows for the automation of cognitively demanding yet repetitive tasks. In other words, routine cognitive jobs with low level decisions stand to first be augmented and then replaced by software. The outsourced help desk is about to move to the cloud, as well as a series of other menial white collar jobs.

This development is further accelerated by the rules of the market – businesses that realize lower expenses through the use of automation will be more competitive than those who still rely on human resources for tasks that are being automated as we speak.

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Customers are the ones who drive changes

As consumers will grow to demand availability and presence on the messaging applications, the trend towards applying intelligent virtual agents will be forced. Service delivery through these platforms will only work through the use of automation, as other alternatives would require a degree of hiring that is uneconomical.

The greatest risk in the phase of adaptation will be the one that is true for any gold rush. Opportunists flock to the scene, and we will see many companies using the phrases “Conversational AI”, “Cognition as a Service” or “Intelligent Virtual Assistants” as marketing phrases, trying to ride the wave of hype towards business deals. Should you venture in to this new field, look beyond the marketing materials and apply due diligence. A lot of promises can be made without the working underlying technology, which can hurt you more in the long run.

Especially since the whole shift is about how your business communicates with your customers.

In the next and final chapter, we will look at the practical steps companies can do to successfully navigate the shift to the world of “No interface”.

To be continued...