Sifting through this year’s chat bot and artificial intelligence (AI) predictions, it’s clear that conversations have finally shifted from human versus computer — so last century — to the exponential value of people plus machines. If researchers can be believed, a new breed of chat bots has emerged, smarter than ever, with stronger benefits for companies and their customers.
Most noticeable was the cascading impact of AI. We can expect a bit of upheaval market-wide and across workforce practices, all the way down to some groundbreaking opportunities for software developers.
Starting at the topmost view, IDC predicted the market for automated customer service agents will total $2.2 billion by next year. In a nod to the technology’s increasing maturity, Gartner researchers said that AI will predict and initiate at least five percent of digital commerce orders by 2022.
Forrester analysts predicted robotic process automation (RPA) and AI will combine to create digital workers for more than 40 percent of enterprises in 2019. Companies will measure employees who direct or work alongside these digital workers based on a “robotics quotient” (RQ). These analysts said employees will also need to design and manage new RPA-driven processes, allowing companies to direct AI towards massive efficiencies.
IDC predicted that by 2024, 50 percent of structured repeatable tasks will be automated, and 20 percent of workers in knowledge-intensive tasks will have AI-infused software, or other digitally connected technology as a “coworker.”
Much of AI’s ballyhoo has centered around the customer experience, and this year is no different. By 2022, IDC researchers forecasted 30 percent of enterprises will use interactive conversational speech technologies to power customer engagement across marketing, sales and service. Fifty percent of customers will talk with AI-based support by next year. Among the innovations are messaging interfaces that encourage intelligent conversations instead of piecemeal transactions between brands and their customers for improved customer experiences.
Behind the scenes, Gartner expected developers to become AI-driven using expanded tools that have, among other things, business domain expertise. In this video interview at SAP TechEd, Omer Biran, managing director of SAP Conversational AI, showed me how developers can build intelligent chat bots in five easy steps.
“Developers can easily train a bot in the language of their choice, build it with a conversational flow, connect it with external software, integrate with messaging channels, and train it to make it smarter based on how people actually use it,” said Biran.
According to Biran, SAP Conversational AI, formerly Recast.AI, is ideally suited for automating fast, knowledgeable customer support.
“Instant messaging is the new normal, and customers expect the same high-quality service from companies they do business with,” he said. “Developers can program bots to speak any language, work on any platform, and be available 24/7 on an as-needed basis. Companies can scale up quickly to deal with the deluge of customers expecting support.”
While Biran saw potential for these chat bots in many industries, he mentioned the highest interest in telecommunications, banking, insurance, and energy providers.
“Chat bots can improve the quality of customer service, engage new customers, and increase productivity for more revenue,” he said. “This latest generation of conversational AI has greater accuracy and performance. They can help build customer relationships by amplifying human traits.”
We’ve been hearing about AI’s potential to improve employee productivity, freeing up their time to tackle higher level tasks for company innovation. Maybe this is the year humans accept machines so companies can realize their shared full potential.
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