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BizReport : Internet : January 11, 2019

Experts ID trends to watch in AI

A big deal just two years ago, artificial intelligence remains a digital factor that hasn't quite reached the heights many believed it would. That doesn't, of course, mean that AI is dead. Rather, digital brands and service providers need to find better ways to reach consumers to engage them in AI. Here are four predicts from experts who believe 2019 will be a game-changer for AI.

by Kristina Knight

Enterprise bots will become intelligent VAs

"Right now, there is no common ground with most of the AI technology consumers engage with. Instead of knowing who you are by simply the sound of your voice, most people are identified as a fresh user every time. Logging you in, authenticating you and knowing your history will be critical--and it all must be done seamlessly. Pins, passwords, security questions won't cut it," said Thomas Hebner, Head of Product Innovation, Nuance Communications. "We'll see a paradigm shift from bots with limited and downright frustrating conversational abilities, to industry-specific, virtual assistants that tap enterprise-grade AI to support meaningful and contextual conversations. And context and anticipation is key. Truly intelligent systems will know why you're calling. For example, a retailer will know--before you ask--that you have an order in-process and will provide with accuracy your shipping status and delivery timing. A travel and hospitality company will use AI and machine learning models to identify keywords within the context of a conversation to offer suggestions based on their profiles and previous interactions."

"Most early business AI applications to market thus far have revolved around predictive and prescriptive analytics--or rather, they've used AI to augment human decision making. In 2018, AI began going deeper--not just forecasting, but actually taking business actions," said Fayez Mohamood, CEO, Bluecore. "This was especially true in vertical industries like retail, where, for example, we saw cases of AI predicting and then purchasing for warehouses to improve ship times. People have been talking about the move toward autonomous technology, but only in vertical applications can you really talk about technology converting business intelligence into critical business actions. 2019 will see more adoption of deep vertical-specific AI that will autonomously take high-value business actions across the supply chain--from purchasing and warehousing to messaging and customer service management."

AI solutions that generate ROI will rise

"Companies will start demanding better knowledge of the ROI of their AI investments. They will be looking for a more accurate way to measure AI's impact on the bottom line and customer experience. This starts by considering your unique data acquisition situation. What data do you have and what data you can get? What data do you not have, that you need to solve for? And they will look for new ways to leverage their existing AI investment by blending AI and human touch--identifying where AI can support humans in their daily roles, and when to transition from a machine-driven interaction to live person for a better outcome," said Hebner. "Bottom line, if you're asking how to deploy more AI, you're asking the wrong question."

"Currently, the widely accepted industry categories revolve primarily around marketing tool types (e.g., email marketing) or processes built around those tools (e.g., email marketing automation). 2019 will be the year that analysts and industry influencers accept that artificial intelligence cannot be confined to existing categories, and will introduce more holistic categories that transcend these more neat and narrow category ecosystems," said Mohamood.

The Human/AI connection will become symbiotic

"In 2019, we'll stop doubting humans' role in the fourth industrial revolution--nor fear they don't have one. It will become clear that the relationship between machines and humans is not either-or; but rather, it's highly symbiotic. We'll realize how crucial it is to marry human insight with AI in order to reach both AI's and humans' potential. We're already seeing that the AI solutions succeeding at both the department- and enterprise-level are those that leverage humans to set forth the larger strategic vision and drive the instinctual and intuitive elements of any complex process. Solutions that are built to capitalize on this give-and-take between man and machine will produce the best outcomes and experience rapid adoption, as a result," said Or Shani, CEO, Albert Technologies.

"2018 marked the peak of enterprise AI hype with every nearly every brand on the planet deploying an AI strategy. Companies spent money--a lot of money--on the promise of using machines to deliver better experiences to their customers. They invested in the bright shiny objects--a bot that can be created in minutes, a bot that can book your next salon visit or order an Uber for you, an application that can offer product recommendations--and they learned a lot in the process. That AI isn't a strategy, it's a tool. And perhaps most importantly, that AI doesn't add enough value on its own--it's the solution across it all that allows machines to engage with humans in a natural and contextual way that makes AI valuable," said Hebner.

Tags: AI, AI advertising, AI advertising tools, AI trends, Albert Technologies, artificial intelligence trends, Bluecore, Nuance Communications

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