Artificial Intelligence: fascination or fear for businesses?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a much discussed and debated subject in 2018

From newspapers to world leaders, everyone is talking about what machine intelligence and robotics could and might do for businesses. With all the buzz it is generating, AI is rapidly emerging as a lucrative technology. By 2035, global consulting firm Accenture has suggested that AI could add an estimated £654 billion to the UK economy.

The upcoming Government Digital Strategy will formalise the UK’s investment in cutting-edge technologies and aims to position the country as a pioneer in the field. While there is much fascination (and profit) surrounding AI across various sectors, there is also an anxiety over the future of machine intelligence and its impact on human jobs. At the end of 2017 Gartner reported this troubling statistic: AI will create 2.3 million jobs by 2020 but eliminate 1.8 million. The complexity of this new technology is illustrated by a recent study on AI in France. There, the popular feeling towards AI is a mixture of curiosity, concern and excitement with 72% of individuals having an overall “positive” attitude towards the technology.

Inevitably, many businesses are now asking whether they should incorporate AI into their services. Many of us experience AI in our daily lives, whether we are using Amazon’s Alexa or conversing with a chatbot on an online retail site. The end user can experience more efficient and personalised services, which in turn improves their relationship with the product and brand. Through machine intelligence businesses can develop richer customer insight; meeting and even exceeding the demands of consumers.

With Customer Experience being one of the most widely known benefiters of AI, it is unsurprising that call and contact centres is an important industry which employ AI services. I believe that it is not a question of whether businesses should utilise AI, but how they use it. AI has become the ultimate symbol of modernity in business, yet while many companies trialled AI in 2017 they also discovered that it is not a magic tool.

Intelligent machines and robotics are building blocks which, integrated into processes and client pathways, allow businesses to boost productivity, performance and quality of service.In call centres using intelligent conversational agents should inspire rather than create fear; the purpose of AI is not about replacing employees but rather augmenting their capabilities. Adding intelligent voicebot services equips call agents with the means to better support customers and manage recurring requests.

While there is still much concern surrounding AI and its long-term effects, it is nevertheless a technology which holds infinite possibilities. Ultimately, the key to machine intelligence in business is incorporation: integrating these technologies into business processes to enrich human capacities. The result is greater customer engagement, productivity and commercial impact.

About the author

Frédéric Durand is founder and CEO of contact centre software provider Diabolocom. Frédéric Durand achieved a Master of Engineering (MEng) from the Institut National Polytechnique de Grenoble before embarking on a successful career in telecommunications engineering. After spending a number of years in engineering and commercial roles at Colt Technology Services, Frederic founded Diabolocom in Paris in 2005. Diabolocom offers an omnichannel cloud solution for sales, customer service, and contact centres and works with more than 250 companies in 20 countries worldwide and has just launched in the UK.