Artificial intelligence is part of our daily routines, whether it’s our Google search or our purchases on Amazon. AI technologies are often combined with our experiences as users and/or customers. But what impact do AI innovations have on companies?
Virtual assistants like Alexa or Siri are moving more and more into our daily lives. Only recently, I read something that was a real epiphany for me as a marketing editor. The more users interact with voice assistants, the more companies need to restructure their SEO-strategies. The reason is deceivingly simple: we speak differently than we write and therefore use other words and phrases.
This leads to the question, whether our interactions and digital behavior will change a lot or only a little in the future due to virtual assistants and other AI technologies. How does a society look like in which humans don’t handle machines but rather communicate with them? Especially now, at the beginning of this shift in human-machine-relationships, companies need to ask themselves how they have to react to be prepared for the future.
Early Adopters don’t always profit
Early adopters were long celebrated as the innovators but considering the speed with which advancements in technology are being made, a change too early can lead to a dead end. And this is not exactly a new risk.
Even back in the 80s, one had to pity the companies that put all of their money on the new design of the LaserDisc, shortly before the DVD took over and dominated the home movie market.
According to a forecast by Gartner, 40% of all current chatbot technologies will be outdated by 2020. This forecast is based on one development: especially at the beginning of a new technology trend, there’s numerous designs, variations and models. Only few of those early iterations truly make it onto the mass market for different reasons (usability, performance, costs or simply a good marketing strategy).
However, for companies, this means that recent trends in AI need to be viewed in light of the company’s needs, detached from the hype.
- Is there a distinct need in your company?
- How well do your employees adapt to new technologies?
- Can the technology be integrated in your infrastructure long-term or are there possibilities for a temporary use that is low-risk and cost-efficient?
Users and customers decide on the direction
Whether voice assistants like Alexa or Siri can truly be a new form of customer interaction is up to the customers.
According to a global survey by Statista from 2017, 34% of all customers would prefer speaking to an AI assistant in online retail. However, depending on the industry and circumstances, this number can change drastically.
When it comes to financial advice, only 20% would prefer AI support and for everything official or regulatory, only 10% would rather talk to an AI than to a real person.
Especially outside of our private use, it will be interesting whether professional assistants, for example for sales, will pull through. Next to voice assistants, it’s chatbots and recommendation engines, after all, that can fulfil similar needs. Whether it will be the mix, or one option that proves to be superior over the others, is up to the market.
Chatbots can help (with AI) in a live-chat to answer simple questions and solve simple problems. They can be used for customer interactions as well as internally for information exchange.
Voice assistants (also: Voice Commerce)
Voice assistants can give information based on written or vocal orders and even fulfil simple tasks like setting appointments or sending a message. Depending on the use, voice assistants can use specific data bases to give information on car routes, help compare product choices or answer questions like „how much is two plus two?“.
Recommendation engines can use collected data and predictive analytics methods and use them to make recommendations for next steps, product suggestions, etc. Most of us know the results of recommendation engines from Amazon or personalized search results on Google.
Be smart when you use artificial intelligence
The specific use for your own company is one of the most important basics of a successful adaption of new technologies. Ignorance is risky in both directions:
Don’t change a running system
A good year is not proof that the next ten years will equally be successful. If you only focus on your own company without any regard to the market or the customer behavior, you run the risk to be overwhelmed by external changes. If you look at the way streaming services have taken huge chunks out of the TV and music industry, you see how fast changes can happen if you don’t look at the customer needs and how new technologies might solve them.
The neighbor’s grass is always greener
It’s equally risky to only look at competitors or even completely different, progressive industries instead of your own company, customers and employees. It’s not uncommon to chase away loyal customers with radical changes or frustrate employees with new systems that don’t fit the company’s workflows.
To decide which technologies can be used efficiently for your company, you need to know your company and all stakeholders.
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