Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are still in their early stages, and there’s much speculation about whether robots will replace humans on the job. And it’s true that the technology offers numerous possibilities to improve how businesses communicate, train their employees, encourage collaboration and interact with customers. Clearly, AI is set to make future business communications much more effective.

While some of the potential applications are already clear, others are not. Here’s what you can expect in the near future, and what you need to keep on your radar.

AI elevates the customer experience

Improve products and services. Today’s consumers want to self-serve as much as possible. A study by Synthetix revealed 90% of customers will visit a company’s website before calling them. This provides an opportunity for businesses to make improvements to their products and services by leveraging AI analytics to better understand why the customer is calling, and then take action.

Enhance self-service. The ability of AI and machine learning to identify patterns is a game-changing capability for contact centers. The technology will perform the most monotonous work, while also delivering better answers. By leveraging natural language processing in both written and spoken forms, AI will make self-service more useful for customers. In fact, better access to information is already helping customers solve their own problems in every industry, from banking and education to information and government.

Virtual assistance. Another current example of AI improving the customer experience is the use of virtual agents. Customers frequently begin with chatbots to solve basic issues. If the problem is too complex for the virtual agent to resolve, it hands off the customer to a human agent. However, to deliver excellent customer service, such transitions must be seamless. The technology must be smart enough to transfer context to the human agent without requiring the customer to repeat information. In its next iteration, AI will stay in the conversation, both to assist the agent with research and to coach them for greater effectiveness and accuracy.

Future uses for artificial intelligence in communications

Reducing workload. Eventually, AI will move beyond intelligent searching to action based on the intent behind the request. With this capability, AI understands the reasons a human is interested in a topic and what they want to know. For instance, AI will eventually be capable of writing reports based on the human conversations it monitors. It will do this because it can understand the intent and goal of the discussion. As the conversation takes place, AI works in the background to find relevant articles to support an argument. What’s more, it will be able to deliver recommendations based on crowd-sourced intelligence. As a result, this technology has the potential to reduce workload, while also improving productivity and accuracy. 

Smart actions. Another opportunity for AI to improve productivity is to take over routine or mundane tasks. In a meeting, the team leader is responsible for keeping conversations on track and adhering to schedules. In the future, AI would handle those tasks. For instance, when a scheduled meeting approaches the end time, the team leader might suggest a follow-up meeting. This request will trigger the AI to check calendars and suggest a time when all participants are free to meet again.

Training. AI will also be used to improve professional development and accreditation. One early possibility is using it to enhance the internal knowledge base. Employees already use virtual assistants, but more advanced applications will request information it doesn’t already “know." When it receives the answer, it will automatically update the database. The next time an employee asks a question resembling the first, the AI would recognize the intent of the request, find the new article and deliver it. This is a powerful way to train employees faster.

AI, augmented reality and beyond

As AI gets smarter, it will be able to identify what an employee needs to know based on their role. Then, it will deliver personalized training via augmented reality. For example, to become certified in a particular area, a nurse may need to complete a specific training program, followed by testing and verification processes. With augmented reality, AI will be able to assist the nurse with the process, eliminating the need to complete a more expensive in-person training program. Thus, by combining IoT, big data and AI, the nurse achieves a higher degree of proficiency with a lower cost method.

It’s certainly possible that robots someday could replace humans in some lines of work. But more likely, AI primarily will be used to assist employees and make them more effective in their roles. By finding and delivering relevant information faster than humanly possible, the technology will streamline communications and improve the ability of businesspeople to make better decisions.

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Digital transformation has become a top initiative for business and IT leaders. In today’s business world, sustainable market leadership is no longer based solely on which company has the best products or even the best people. Instead, organizations that are agile and can quickly adapt to rapidly evolving market trends will become market leaders.

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