Artificial intelligence (AI) is dominating conversations in the tech industry, with researchers suggesting that by 2025, the AI market will be valued at $169 billion. Implementing AI-enabled technologies in business processes is also becoming a more attractive investment for businesses, given that AI-derived business value is forecasted to reach $3.9 trillion by 2022.
AI is a wide-ranging branch of computer science that builds smart machines to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence. Many of these AI systems are powered by machine learning, some of them are powered by deep learning, and others are powered by set rules. However, all deployments work to improve the efficiency of operations by taking a more intelligent approach to automation.
Though AI is still in its infancy, there are already myriad benefits to businesses that incorporate AI into unified communications (UC). Below are three ways IT decision makers can integrate AI into their enterprise calling and messaging functions.
- Improve customer service communications
In industries where the use of contact centers and customer service agents is essential, AI-enhanced communication tools can significantly improve quality of service and reduce time investment by the deployment of bots. Bots, powered by cloud-based messaging, for example, are supplementing human communications to streamline customer support.
Voicebots (voice-activated chatbots like Siri or Alexa) can answer customers’ questions or provide step-by-step instructions on tasks. In banking, voicebots can help customers facilitate account changes, and in retail settings, they can provide shipping and order status updates. When a question is more complex, voicebots can connect customers to human agents — streamlining this process by automatically sending the contact center agent an outline of the customer’s inquiries. The result is a better experience for the customer (removing the need to reiterate themselves) and greater operational efficiency for the business. Human customer service representatives are then free to spend greater amounts of time handling more complex tasks and customer inquiries.
In addition, AI is helping companies deliver personalized experiences. Today, there are numerous ways to engage with a business – call centers, online chat, email, online advertising and social media, among many. However, these channels are often siloed and inconsistent with each other, which impacts a business’ ability provide a strong omnichannel presence. AI is helping combat this problem by delivering a single customer view, with consistency in the interactions as the systems learn from each other every time a customer engages with a brand.
- Inform decision making
At the surface level, UC seeks to improve workplace productivity and processes by facilitating connected interactions. AI magnifies these efforts and takes it a step beyond by informing and improving decision making. Relying heavily on data and computing power, AI can act as an unbiased predictor, helping business decision makers look to and prepare for the future with more confidence. When solving a problem, business leaders can lean on AI analytics to assess risks that they perhaps wouldn’t have considered or foreseen.
Customer preferences can also be anticipated by artificial intelligence. Further, AI can monitor and predict what a customer’s communications preferences are (i.e., time of day, channel, etc.) and provide that information to business representatives.
- Strengthen security systems
AI can automatically use complex pattern recognition tools to identify the hallmarks of a malicious program. Though not a one-stop-shop for meeting all security needs, AI reduces the amount of time that IT professionals need to spend investigating alerts.
In fraudulent calling, for example, AI can automatically scan for malicious behavior and determine if the behavior is in line with that of the larger network. If a threat is identified (i.e., black or grey routes) intelligent systems can flag it to the IT team for further inspection.
AI can also monitor for common threats such as premium route fraud, subscription fraud and identity fraud. Since AI-enabled systems are data-rich, they have at their disposal a well of information regarding regular call activity. Whenever a fraudulent caller tries to attack, AI will be able to detect the bad actor and either block it or flag it to an IT professional.
Historically, UC was known to only include voice-over IP calling, video conferencing and instant messaging. Now, through AI and other cloud-based tech integrations, UC has evolved enterprise communications facilitating team huddle spaces, cloud storage of documents, wireless collaboration display, interactive whiteboards and more. While enterprise AI and broader machine learning tools advance, UC is one area that stands to reap great rewards.
Awareness about AI on the consumer level is already becoming ubiquitous, driven in large part by voice-control assistants. As a next step, we will see AI make its way into enterprise settings as virtual assistants are tasked to handle daily processes, such as setting up a conference call. Enterprises already leveraging virtual assistants are using them to accomplish tasks for which they would have previously used their smartphones. This reliance on virtual assistants and other AI-driven communications systems will only increase.
Enterprises that leverage AI technology in their communications offerings will be able to keep pace with evolving customer needs and preferences and deliver a better customer experience. They will also see benefits to their decision-making processes and security, as well as increased ROI on UC investments.