Tom Shrive, founder and CEO of askporter, explores the AI-driven innovation that will take place over the next decade.
For many people in decades gone by, the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ – or simply AI – seemed to represent some far flung vision of the future in which flying cars, teleportation devices, and visitors from other planets were all a reality and a daily occurrence.
Although today, in the year 2021, these things have not yet come to pass, AI is no longer a mere figment of vivid imaginations, with new applications for the technology constantly being developed and bringing significant changes to how we live our lives – from the likes of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, to smart cars and media streaming services becoming increasingly prevalent and influential.
However, it is not only on our day-to-day lives that AI is having an impact on; the technology is also being embraced by businesses looking to improve efficiencies and services, with AI management platforms providing the means to achieve these goals.
With Abode reporting that 39% of large organisations said they planned to invest in AI during 2020, and Gartner predicting that, by 2022, 70% of customer interactions will involve technologies such as machine learning and digital assistants, it is clear that companies see it as a competitive differentiator.
Leading economist Indermit Gill has even gone so far to declare in an article for the Brookings Institution that ‘whoever leads in artificial intelligence in 2030 will rule the world until 2100’ with ‘rapid business process innovation’ being a vital component of this dominance.
It is is equally clear that those firms that do not take meaningful steps to invest in the technology now will find themselves floundering in the sea of AI advancement that is coming.
In order for business leaders to comprehend how utilising AI could help them to ‘rule the world’ in 2030 and beyond, it is important that they are aware of the real world benefits the technology could bring to their organisation right now.
What is certainly true today – and will continue to be true in the years and decades to come – is that we live in a technology-connected, “always on” world.
A recent report published by Ofcom and entitled ‘Online Nation’ found that, in September 2019, the average time spent online each day by adults aged 18 or above was three hours and 29 minutes, while 71% of all measured time online was spent using smartphones.
While these statistics give an insight into how much of a presence technology now plays in our daily lives, as well as how, where and when people choose to use their digital devices, it is vital for businesses to understand how these trends in online activity can help shed a light on changing customer behaviour.
Because potential customers have this ‘always online’ approach towards using technology, they will expect the same from the companies whose products and services they use. If they are unable to have their needs satisfied when or how they want them to be, they are likely to take their business elsewhere.
Fortunately, as AI-driven digital assistants never sleep, customers can gain access to the information they are looking for at any time and from anywhere, instead of having to wait for a response when normal working hours resume.
In addition to addressing every customer query, digital assistants also have the ability to capture, prioritise and action every issue, thereby helping to relieve the backlog of consumer messages that are received out of hours.
The benefits that AI can bring for customer satisfaction are being recognised in growing numbers by e-commerce companies – especially in the wake of the pandemic, which has greatly accelerated the rate of digital adoption among consumers.
This is evident from Gartner figures showing that, by the end of 2020, approximately 25% of customer service operations were using virtual assistants, up from two per cent in 2017.
With the rate at which virtual assistants are being used in customer service having risen so dramatically in such a short space of time, it is inevitable that they will continue to rise, whether gradually or rapidly, over the course of the next decade and beyond.
It is vital, therefore, that as customers’ online habits continue to evolve, businesses must take the necessary steps to evolve their services in line with them, and AI holds the key to achieving this.
An end-to-end solution
A crucial aspect when assessing how customer experience can be improved in the future is to look how services have been delivered in the past.
Because AI management platforms are an end-to-end solution, they can provide businesses with a full picture of a customer’s journey to date by drawing on their vast databanks of activity and information.
This gives them a far better understanding of who a customer is and their past company interactions, so that they can much better understand what can be done to improve – or even tailor – services to meet the customer’s individual requirements.
Research conducted by Epsilon found that 80% of customers said they are more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalised experiences, so the importance of making customers feel valued cannot be underestimated.
While it is unrealistic to expect a customer service executive to remember who each customer is, as well as the journey they have gone on with the company, the existence of AI management platforms and their capacity to provide this information in an instant enables customer service personnel to gain a clear understanding of a customer and what can be done to enhance their individual experience.
And with 73% of companies with above-average customer experience performing better financially than their competitors, according to Experience Matters, it is apparent that those firms that are not placing customer experience front and centre of their service offering will find themselves suffering in the long run as a result.
Investment in AI management platforms now, therefore, will enable firms to take steps towards enhancing customer experience in the long term, thereby strengthening and future-proofing their brand identity.
Companies must recognise their role as AI pioneers
While the advancements made to AI technology over the course of the past decade have been vast – one only needs to think about by how much smartphones and smart cars have evolved in this time – it is inevitable that the technology will have evolved far beyond our wildest dreams by the time the 2030s are upon us.
What many experts agree on though is that AI will have become even more affordable and integrated into most aspects of our lives, producing new efficiencies and driving human capacities beyond the realms of what we now consider to be possible, with roboticist Matt Mason stating that ‘AI will present new opportunities and capabilities to improve the human experience’.
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A large part of this expected improvement to human experience, however, will depend on the ways that firms harness AI management platforms to better the lives of those who use their products and services, and company leaders must take meaningful steps towards discovering how the technology can allow them to become the digital pioneers of their industries who will help shape the business world of tomorrow.