This article was originally published by Telecom Reseller.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is reshaping communications as we know it. With machine learning, speech technologies, collaboration tools, data analytics, and integration capabilities joining together in a powerful new digital mesh, both the workplace and the contact center are proving to be among the biggest beneficiaries. Enterprise productivity and the customer experience are the subjects of many AI-based innovations, representing the next evolution of automation.
And you don’t have to wait to cash in on the benefits. The future is now.
First, let’s define artificial intelligence (AI). Most people think of AI as machines that mimic human cognitive functions such as learning and problem solving. AI is also used to describe any device (usually a computer and software) that perceives its environment and takes actions to maximize the identified goal, for instance, speech and text analysis and response. While AI technologies perform speech and text processing very well, these advances are not yet equal to the powers of the human brain.
Nonetheless, current AI capabilities are helping enterprises automate responses to contact center customers and UC users. Complex tasks still have to be supported by humans. In other words, AI is not ready to replace all the contact center agents, but it’s ready to assist both agents and UC users, improving employee productivity and accelerating the customer service process.
In the age of personal digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, customers are demanding a higher level of service. AI is changing interactive voice response (IVR) technology, which has historically produced relatively static menus to callers and hasn’t responded well to erroneous or mistaken inputs. With advanced innovation, AI systems now have the ability to train themselves based on the businesses they are supporting and generate natural language responses derived from the library of customer service answers. At a minimum, virtual agents can greet customers, answer questions, and fulfill requests on their own without participation from contact center agents.
But even better, AI systems can also actively assist agents, supporting their live customer conversations as they happen in real time. Data analytics engines integrate with real-time voice recognition technologies to predict what the customer wants and supplement live service by proactively providing relevant information to the agent’s desktop.
This point was made clear in a conversation with Dean Manzoori, Vice President of Cloud Communications at Masergy, who explained that enterprises are already capitalizing on cloud contact centers, integrating data analytics with real-time voice recognition technologies to enhance the customer experience.
These intelligent service interactions reduce costs, improve customer satisfaction, and allow the real, live agents to focus on complex customer queries. AI technology also offers the ability to:
Combining unified communications technologies with AI is also a big benefit. Today, AI for UC is focused on improving system usability, problem-solving, and data analysis. The combination of UC and AI helps people do their jobs better by allowing machines to guide them, interpret data, and analyze information faster. The goal of unified communications mixed with AI is to work smarter, not harder, and therefore be more productive.
Simple examples include keeping meeting participants informed with regards to:
The biggest UC challenges have traditionally been problem-solving, and AI is effectively assisting UC users with:
Ready to infuse your communications and contact center with machine learning and AI-focused technologies? While AI seems like a future capability, there are many technologies that exist today. To get ahead of your competition, you’ll want to be a leader, not a follower. To start applying advanced AI-based technologies, you need to unite new tools, creating interoperability via one cohesive environment. These five steps are critical in creating the future today:
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