I still remember the fall of 2011, when I got the Apple iPhone 4s with Siri. This was my first interface with a virtual digital assistant and, like most people, I was skeptical but mesmerized. I must have spent hours that first day speaking to her. I’m sure my wife thought I had issues.
Almost seven years later, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana have become household names, as has Google’s new artificial intelligence (AI) assistant, Google Assistant.
Consumers are enthusiastically buying into the idea of creating a "smart home," looking to make the most of the simplicity these devices bring into daily routines: hands-free texting and calling, or using search capabilities for news media or unlocking doors, adjusting thermostats and other home-related services, for example. A recent research study conducted by Mastercard and Mercator shows that two-thirds of U.S. adults are already using voice assistants or chatbots, and 21% are using them for e-commerce such as online banking or bill paying.
Can AI Be a Value Driver for Channel Partners?
The short answer is yes. But there’s a lot to it.
Like anything in the technology sector, if it’s successful on a personal level, it will migrate to businesses. The market for cognitive and AI systems propelled by software, services and hardware will expand to more than $47 billion by 2020, according to IDC. Keep in mind, we are on the leading-edge of AI. That number is only going to grow--by a lot.
Amazon’s Alexa for Business already integrates the voice assistant into enterprise software and customizable skills with early partners, including SAP Concur and Salesforce on the tech side. WeWork, CapitalOne and Wynn hotels are also participating businesses.
“AI will be employed across enterprises, doing everything from engaging with customers and employees to automating and improving large elements of the operation,” Forrester analysts Martha Bennett and Matthew Guarini said in a research note.
I urge partners to jump in early, but there are a few things to consider when incorporating AI into your business plans:
· Research the types of AI that your vendors are investing in or are developing.
· Figure out if AI makes sense within the vertical or horizontal solutions you are selling, building and implementing.
· Talk to your customers to determine if AI makes sense for them and their customers.
· Look at how other channel partners are taking AI to market and see where your company fits in the marketplace opportunity.
· Stay on top of the AI news and development world.
AI Needs to Enrich
At the recent World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, SAP CEO Bill McDermott was among the global leaders who expressed optimism that AI will transform the workplace in a positive way, creating more skilled jobs. “We see augmented humanity as the opportunity,” he said. “It's there to enrich our lives, not take anything away from us.”
In fact, SAP announced the acquisition of Recast.AI, a highly innovative start-up based in Paris that focuses on conversational user experience (UX) technology, to accelerate SAP’s machine learning capabilities. For more information on Artificial Intelligence and its effect, see this SAP Thought Leadership Paper.
There’s a growing interest in applications surrounding virtual agents and personal assistants, particularly around language processing and predictive analytics. It makes sense for channel partners to engage in discussions with customers now, to see how AI can improve their business lives.
Learn more about SAP Leonardo the Digital Innovation System that brings new technology, like AI, together to help partners and customers.
This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.