AI that listens like a human: the great differentiator for businesses has already arrived

Google DeepMind’s recent announcement that they are close to achieving ‘human level’ AI recently caused a lot of buzz in the technology and business communities

It is easy to see why. Human beings boast levels of cognition and powers of interpretation that are seen as the gold standard; a level that technology has, until now, only strived to reach.  Yet the meaning of human level AI is somewhat vague. AI is often used as a catch-all term for advanced and interpretive analytics, so claims that it has reached ‘human level’ lack the nuance or specificity to shed light on what this really means.  

AI technology that can be judged on the level of human beings is becoming increasingly commonplace when it comes to specific applications such as voice capture. Whilst the technology has ruled the roost when it comes to processing large amounts of data or responding quickly and accurately to complex problem sets, it has now breached the territory of interpretation or listening power at the human level. What’s more, the business community has woken up to this fact and it seems more willing than ever to embrace, invest and take advantage of human level AI in the arena of voice and interpretation of human conversations. This could prove a great differentiator for businesses as adoption becomes more widespread. 

The importance of human level listening power  

The ability of AI to understand the intricacies of human conversation, the nuances of our emotion or break past irony and sarcasm within our sentences is a true step forward that is worth shouting about. From a business perspective the case for AI ‘listening’ like a human creates a very attractive proposition; the more detailed the data and understanding, the clearer and more effective the insights gleaned from it.  

Just think of the number of internal and external conversations that occur every day within a business. Listening to and understanding those conversations is fundamental to business success today – but conversations are complex. They can take place across different channels and platforms, involve different people, and at different moments in time.  

Technology can provide actionable insights in areas ranging from compliance to customer service and experience. In our experience, ten minutes of voice data can yield more information about a customer than a year’s worth of CRM data – revealing important information about a customer’s personality, their experiences, their moods when interacting with a company, and anything else that makes them human. Take compliance functions as another case. Held within voice data is tone that elucidates the true intentions behind words: with working arrangements that are increasingly remote, and well-functioning businesses operating from different sides of the planet, the ability of companies to record and analyse conversations is key to keeping ahead of and in line with the shifting sands of regulation and compliance. 

A coming inflection point for voice capture  

There is, however, a disconnect right now between business leaders’ awareness of how AI can improve their business and its actual implementation. According to our research data, between 40-50% of business leaders in the UK and US are aware of the use cases for conversational AI but are not currently using them in their organisation. Fortunately, it does seem a change in the tide is coming as the use cases for AI that listens ‘like a human’ become clearer.  

Across the board, organisations plan to increase the capture of internal and external conversations in the next two to five years, with less than 3% stating that they never plan on implementing this technology. This hints clearly at the growing importance of voice as a strategic data set and the acceptance of AI within organisations, giving a glimpse into a future where the technology has developed further and is commonplace in organisations addressing the needs of customers and employees.  

What’s more, technology leaders are increasingly convinced that AI driven voice capture has reached or surpassed the human level. Nearly one in three (30%) believe AI can understand emotions and conversation sentiment better than human. Nine out of ten (88%) say AI has, or will soon have, the ability to interpret human conversations as effectively as people can.  

This faith from key decision makers with businesses is not misplaced. At a time when every new innovation can present a major step forward for businesses looking to differentiate themselves, it’s simply a case of when – not if – this technology becomes commonplace. The coming inflection point for the adoption of AI will make businesses more efficient, more data driven, and more responsive to the needs of their customers. This is something that should excite us all.  


About the Author

Richard Stevenson, CEO of Red Box since 2016, has worked in the software and financial services sectors for over twenty years. He has a proven track record in leading digital transformation and innovation in the US, South Africa, China and Europe. With over 1,500 global customers, Red Box is trusted by six of the world’s top banks, 85% of global interdealer brokers, 500+ call centres and over 70% of UK police forces to capture and secure millions of calls daily.

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