A Secret Weapon: See the Full Potential of AI for Your Next-Gen CX
If I were to ask how often you engage with a form of artificial intelligence (AI), what would you say? Now, what if I told you that not only do you engage with AI more than you think, but you’ll rely on it more than traditional phone service five years from now? Would you agree, or think I’m plain crazy?
Before you form an opinion, consider the reality in which we live. It’s commonplace to engage with AI-enabled virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana. In fact, if you own an iPhone, you’re likely part of the 98% majority who has at least tried Siri. By 2020, more than a quarter billion consumers will be operating connected vehicles that can autonomously drive, park and change lanes. This year, it’s expected that 50 AI-enabled devices (like Amazon Echo) will be shipped per minute.
Overall, top analyst firms like Gartner and Forrester expect AI, driven by intelligent analytics, to reshape the CX more than any other technology over the next five years. With the rapid pace of innovation, this trajectory could very well mean the near-extinction of traditional phones. Consider that assisted/automated service is already practically head-to-head with traditional phones in terms of usage. Phone contacts dropped 17% from 2015 to 2017—now representing about 55% of all interactions—while assisted/automated service has grown to now represent 45%.
The Proliferation of AI: From Fantasy to Hard Reality
Suddenly, a high level of AI dependence doesn’t seem so crazy anymore. And it shouldn’t. After all, the technology is now driving most of our daily experiences. For example, we’re now seeing AI-based cognitive healthcare that can identify patient care gaps and automate personalized interventions. Companies are launching chat bots built on conversational AI to intuitively communicate with consumers across multiple platforms. Educators are working to unify traditionally siloed data to build school-specific predictive models. The world is embracing AI, and this means organizations across every sector must have the right technology foundation to drive desired customer and citizen outcomes.
But this is easier said than done. The rise of technologies like the IoT and AI have made architecture implemented even 15 years ago no longer able to deliver the kind of dynamic service experience customers now demand. Companies are finding that systems meant to last decades can’t sufficiently handle the pressures of a next-gen, digital business ecosystem. AI has opened the door to vast new CX capabilities, yet most companies struggle to realize the technology’s full potential because of a dependency on legacy hardware and hierarchical architecture.
This is exactly why the concept of a next-generation platform has skyrocketed in recent years. The technology is open, agile and future-proof enough for companies to radically shift to meet the customer needs of today and the future, whatever they may be. In today’s world of limitless possibilities, organizations need a platform that boasts a seemingly endless scope of capabilities.
What Businesses Need in a Next-Gen Platform to Make AI Work for Them
Not just any next-gen platform will do for those looking to capitalize on AI, however. As I mentioned in a previous blog, the concept of a next-generation platform isn’t as simple as it sounds, and there are many variations among industry analysts. Having said this, here are three capabilities that we at Avaya believe a next-generation platform must have in order for companies to realize the full benefits of AI in the smart digital world:
- Silo elimination: Not minimization—elimination. Unfortunately, many companies will fail to drive the customer or citizen outcomes that matter most because they’re siloing AI. In doing so, they’re effectively limiting the CX capabilities that the technology can drive. While these companies recognize and prioritize AI, they have yet to look beyond their developments as part of something greater. At Avaya, we believe a next-generation platform must easily integrate AI into any existing business ecosystem to seamlessly drive the digital, end-to-end customer journey. As I’ve said time and again, the greatest barrier to CX success is the continuation of silos. This is especially true considering the ability today to connect customer journeys through analytics.
- Intelligent automation: As businesses digitize, they will undoubtedly need a certain level of automation to deploy and manage countless connected services end-to-end. This level of automation must be able to accelerate and customize what consumers and/or citizens will experience. For example, consider an AI-supported school where students can receive automated SMS messages personalized to their daily schedules (i.e., their mode of transportation or extracurricular activities). Or, consider that quarter billion figure mentioned earlier in terms of connected cars. Top manufacturers like Tesla, BMW and Audi are investing in self-driving cars where automated M2M communication outweighs human-to-human communication. Even if a mechanical issue arises, the vehicle will automate a phone call or SMS to ask the driver for more information to strengthen its knowledge base for future incidents.
- Multi-database analytics: If I could stress the importance of any one capability, it would be this. Just as companies must integrate AI into their existing ecosystems, they must also break traditional database silos. The power of an AI-enabled CX is ultimately found in the free flow of multi-database analytics. Let’s say you’re traveling to Argentina, for example. It shouldn’t be difficult for a tourism company to register when you clear customs as a guest entering the country, allowing the company to begin delivering a contextualized, end-to-end experience based on knowledge acquired from multiple different databases. For instance, they may want to send you an automated SMS listing the top five tango shows in your local region because they flagged a tweet you had posted two weeks earlier mentioning your interest in tango. They can then offer you a virtual assistant who can help you further, should you have any questions.
This level of engagement is not only possible, but is expected to become the norm in just a few short years. The question is: how can we make this easier for businesses to achieve? This all starts with transitioning to a software-based model that is completely detached from hardware dependency. Software automated architecture, which leverages the full power of the cloud, enables companies to begin easily and reliably scaling with more elasticity to drive these kinds of AI-enabled outcomes.
Up next I’ll be discussing the importance of your next-generation platform being built on an open ecosystem. Stay tuned.