By Scott Hoffpauir, CTO, BroadSoft
Today’s fast-moving world requires businesses to be nimble and evolve quickly with advancing technology. Even as artificial intelligence (AI) has made significant advances in helping us be more productive and creative, the challenge of how to connect the power of AI to the enterprise is an open question facing all of us. The fact that AI can take many forms means organizations are almost limitless in how they can leverage these advances and are only held back by implementation.
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit report, 75 percent of business executives surveyed said AI will be actively implemented in the next three years. But where do organizations begin? It’s essential to integrate this technology in a way that will fully benefit the organization and provide employees with the tools necessary to utilize AI to its highest capabilities.
The extent of AI
From advances in voice recognition to communication bots, AI’s benefits can take many forms in the enterprise. Customer service has been boosted significantly from the addition of chatbots that are already operating on websites to address frequently asked customer questions. According to Constellation Research, the AI market will surpass $100 billion by 2025, with even more technology advances to come.
The percolation of AI and machine learning technologies into businesses still seems to be in its early stages, ranging from awareness that businesses need to collect data, to awareness that they already have a lot of data, but are not making productive use of it.
At the heart of workplace productivity and user experience are conversations and a dynamic conversational flow that drives and weaves together work processes and workflows
Data is certainly the backbone of AI. The greater the amount provided by the organization leads to smarter and more accurate assistance and automation of services. Without the data, even chatbots would be lost in their responses. While these investments in AI are certainly important to the development of an organization, full implementation of the tools and understanding of the technology by employees is essential to have AI become a true part of the enterprise.
Dictating the health of an organization
An ability to quickly and accurately implement the latest technologies often gives light to the health of an organization, especially as future technologies, like AI, can be leveraged throughout many aspects. In a study from Infosys, a clear link was revealed between an organization’s revenue growth and its AI maturity. Even with this link, the same study shows that 90 percent of respondents reported employee challenges and concerns related to the adoption of AI. This can be expected. With every new technology there are challenges. How do we help people who are concerned that their jobs are being replaced by AI agents and robots? Will users trust their AI agent with all their information? As with business disruption, organizations will need to invest in training, education and transparency as an essential part of implementation.
The organizations that prepare for these challenges and lean into potential tension are the ones who are reaping rewards, according to the above study. Organizations that have planned for, or have implemented, AI technologies are expecting both 39 percent revenue increase and 37 percent cost reduction in the future. Even fears from employees on the effect of jobs in an AI world are already being silenced as 80 percent of companies whose employees are being displaced by AI are in turn investing in programs to retrain and deploy those affected within the organization.
Fitting into unified communication
AI, coupled with unified communication (UC), enables organizations to be more efficient, productive and collaborative in today’s business landscape. At the heart of workplace productivity and user experience are conversations and a dynamic conversational flow that drives and weaves together work processes and workflows. Enabling those conversations, while keeping context, is the key to workplace productivity.
Today, AI tools have the ability to enhance everything from employee interaction to meeting efficiency. Difficult parts of flexible work environments, like conference calls, can be quickly upgraded with AI improving audio quality and eliminating background noise that commonly plague meetings. Cross-office video chats are improved by providing facial recognition and identification for all of the parties on the call.
But in the future we can expect our collaboration and workplace productivity tools to essentially become smart about how and with whom we work. The idea is that they know what you’re doing and what the desired outcome is. For example, a virtual assistant can help guide meetings, giving out 5 minute time reminders or pull up documents that are referenced during meetings.
As AI continues to converge with our everyday lives, enterprise and personal uses will transcend their original significance. One such use of AI that we will see transitioning into the enterprise this year is virtual assistants. Soon these personal assistants will be smart enough to operate under business contexts, providing access to things like the company directory or company calendar information.
The outlook for how AI will affect the enterprise is certainly promising. As with any new technology, flexibility to change and access to training is of the utmost importance. The extent of how AI will transform the workplace requires an understanding of business processes and all the things that makes us inefficient today and then opening one’s mind to how the use of machines can help us do things better.