Following the news that “AI” has been voted 2017 word of the year by the ANA (Association of National Advertisers), its likely this buzz will continue at pace as we head into a new year of innovation. Fuelled by our desire to understand ever increasing amounts of data, improve productivity, generate competitive advantage and improve customer experiences, it will lead to new products and services built on AI – machine learning, predictive analytics, natural language processing – that continue to disrupt the way commercial teams work.
Our 7 artificial intelligence predictions for the year:
Less hype, more real innovation
In 2017 we saw many companies jump on the AI bandwagon, with many software vendors repackaging their solutions so they could claim them to be AI-powered. 2018 will see a move away from this hype, and instead we’ll see tangible developments. A wide range of AI’s and bots, designed to address clearly defined needs and problems will emerge fuelled by increased investment and experimentation.
Forbes currently predicts that 80% of organisations are investing in AI. Likewise Deloitte’s new Digital Disruption Index claims 85% of senior executive plan to invest in AI over the next two years, believing it will have the greatest impact on the future of their organisations. For commercial teams, as investment grows, sales outcomes will improve, productivity will be boosted and customer experiences optimised.
Talking to machines will become normal
Amazon Alexa and Google Home devices have started to permeate our lives. We are becoming accustomed to asking questions about the weather, traffic or news each day, as well as giving orders to add items to our shopping list, time the cooking of our dinner, or find and play our favourite song. In 2018 we will get used to the idea of talking to machines in the workplace, thanks to advancements in conversational technologies and natural language processing.
In 2017 we launched Arti, as our own experiment in conversational AI. Arti enables intuitive customer interaction in a relatively human-like way, answering questions about Artesian’s capabilities, and providing expertise in real time. It has taken our customer experience to a whole new level, and we believe that as we move into 2018, more and more businesses will realise the benefits of conversational AI, both in terms of customer success and internal productivity improvements.
Gartner agrees – they have predicted 2018 will see digital assistants that are able to “mimic human conversations”, with both listening and speaking, a sense of history, in-the-moment context, timing and tone, and the ability to respond, add to and continue with a thought or purpose at multiple occasions and places over time.
AI co-workers will join the team
The global intelligent virtual assistant market is expected to grow by 31% over the next 5 years, with estimates predicting that by 2022 the market will have expanded to be worth in the region of $5.1bn, according to Transparency Market Research.
The obvious role of AI co-workers would be to take over thankless, repetitive or laborious tasks, leaving us humans free to immerse ourselves in the most creative, rewarding and engaging aspects of our roles.
But more than that, AI co-workers offer the potential to augment our own abilities. Machines can swallow vast amounts of data in real time, far beyond the capabilities of manual processing. Machine learning and predictive analytics can collect, rationalise, organise and deliver instant access to the highest-value information, and direct how to act on it based on solid, measurable facts.
When machine joins the team, everything will get easier – AI co-workers will reduce the likelihood that we miss a valuable opportunity, make a mistake, fail to respond to a customer need or predict a market trend that could open new doors.
2018 will be the year we welcome an AI co-worker to the team and humans and machines begin to work harmoniously together – embracing each other’s skills, learning from each other’s strengths and correcting each other’s mistakes. The potential is vast in terms of both efficiency and commercial success.
Machine Learning will go mainstream
In 2018 data won’t be confined to databases, instead we will offload labour-intensive research and analysis to machines.
Machine learning will crunch data from millions of sources, and in doing so help us better understand which data is critical to our everyday decision making and ability to thrive in a changing market. It will enable businesses to construct predictive models based on patterns of event types and customer attributes, that correlate more or less with eventual success.
When we know exactly what our next steps are, we can better predict success and avoid failure, resulting in more sophisticated sales strategies, campaigns, and product or service development.
As time goes by and the volume of data improves precision and predictive capacity, these models will advance, enabling faster and more accurate predictions of customer needs, pain, market challenges and opportunities.
AI will deliver genuine efficiencies and cost savings
As mentioned, the obvious role of machines is to take over thankless, repetitive or laborious tasks, leaving us humans free to immerse ourselves in the most creative, rewarding and engaging aspects of our roles.
Artificial Intelligence is rapidly mastering tasks that until very recently were deemed off limits for machines, with AI and machine learning applications increasingly capable of performing activities traditionally handled by people.
And, unlike humans, computers never sleep. This simple fact means we can rely on them to keep the administrative plates spinning when the limitations of our physiology mean we can’t, or while we focus on more valuable human things, like relationship building.
AI and machine learning will give commercial teams more time to build better relationships with customers and focus on tackling the more complex aspects of their roles. This will result in time savings of 34% according to a PwC report in 2017, and cost savings of more than $8bn by 2022 according to Juniper Research.
Job creation, not job loss
Of course, as with any new disruptive innovation there is scepticism. AI is no different, with lots of the debate dominated by the threat of job losses. For some, AI represents a doomsday whereby collaboration with machines means they could lose their jobs, that automation will exacerbate economic inequality, and that eventually AI co-workers could dominate the better-paying roles.
However, Gartner estimates that 2.3m jobs will be created by AI by the year 2020. Hopefully 2018 will be the year we start focusing less on the threat of machines but more on the potential. Machines need people to build them, teach them, improve them, sell them, and most importantly use them. Far from taking jobs, when we welcome an AI co-worker to the team, the potential is vast in terms of both efficiency and commercial success.
Solve real problems
In 2018 we will see a wide range of AI’s and bots come to market designed to address clearly defined needs and problems, adapted and tuned to specific purposes.
Artificial intelligence will be put to use, enhancing our current capabilities and tackling not just core but complex business problems. For commercial teams an ever-greater spread of AI’s and bots within business systems will impact the traditional ways in which customers buy, as well as the ways products and services are sold and marketed.
At Artesian we are making it possible for commercial teams to take advantage of pioneering Artificial Intelligence technology to uncover new opportunities and exploit endless possibilities through the power of data. But in 2018 you can expect to see more from us.
We are constantly looking at the ‘what next’ scenario and experimenting to push the boundaries when it comes to solving real problems. To this end we will soon launch our new risk mitigation capabilities, so keep your eye on our blog for more information.
Wishing you all a Happy and Prosperous 2018 from everyone at Artesian.