How AI will drive innovation in the collaboration space

Artificial intelligence is making its way into the workplace — from the boardroom to the contact centre. Here’s how it could transform your organization.

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There’s a lot of talk about how artificial intelligence will revolutionize the workplace, help us innovate and change the way we collaborate. But is it really going to change how we do business?

Even if you don’t have an immediate need for self-driving vehicles or humanoid robots, AI is making its way into the workplace in other ways. Thanks to natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML), it will transform enterprise collaboration and customer interactions — from the boardroom to the contact centre.

Enterprise Digital Assistants

We’re familiar with Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant — digital assistants that help us at home and in our personal lives. But we’ll start to see digital assistants make their way into the enterprise, from scheduling to project management. Ever found yourself wondering what the name of that person speaking in the room is? No problem! With face recognition, it will soon be a problem of the past.

Cisco, for example, is piloting a Webex Assistant. This can help to streamline meeting management and calling facilities — everything from booking boardrooms to joining meetings, capturing notes, sharing screens, locating and displaying documents, muting and adjusting volume, and whiteboard tool activation — all with the power of a voice command.

With machine learning, enterprise digital assistants will “learn” behaviour, such as muting the sound of a dog barking or baby crying in the background of a conference call. This works by providing the machine with a large number of samples, which the system uses to learn and make predictions.

Chatbots and Contact Centres

Another emerging area is AI in the contact centre — or for any customer interaction through chatbots. This technology isn’t just for enterprises with large contact centres; smaller firms are starting to benefit too from customer service capabilities once only available to the largest of firms.

A chatbot is a computer program that imitates human conversation, and while the technology is far from perfect, AI-powered chatbots are getting smarter. With NLP and ML, they start to learn how a question can be asked in multiple ways (such as “where is my order” or “when will my package arrive”). If it doesn’t have the answer, it can pass on the question to a pool of live agents.

With AI-powered chatbots, you can offer customer service around the clock and improve time to resolution, without increasing operational costs. The intention isn’t necessarily to reduce agent staffing, but to help those agents be more productive. Instead of wasting time on routine inquiries, they can assist with more complex issues, becoming “experts” and, ultimately, providing a better customer experience. Better yet, chatbots are starting to learn from live agents’ answers to build a knowledge base on their own.

What’s next?

AI can also be used for analytics, reporting and identity management. AI can provide something called “sentiment analysis” in a contact centre, for example, evaluating the customer’s “tone” and routing the call to the most appropriate agent. It could also match customers to agents based on criteria such as rate of speech, ultimately making contact centres more efficient. It also has myriad applications for fraud detection.

Whether you’re a small or large firm, it’s worth considering how AI could improve your workflows, from meetings to customer service and identity management.

Learn more about Allstream’s contact centre solutions.

Image: iMrSquid/iStock

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