The channel is still afraid of AI — and this startup is out to change that with accessibility and education.

Moshe Beauford, Contributing Editor

August 29, 2023

4 Min Read
Artificial intelligence
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Ascent Business Partners is somewhat of an anomaly in the channel. It’s not quite a channel partner; it’s more of a facilitator of sorts. And less than a year after incorporating, the organization is doing something no one else in the channel appears to be doing, according to Jon Heaps, co-founder and managing partner of the firm.

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Ascent Business Services’ Jon Heaps

It’s leveraging accessible artificial intelligence technology and putting it within reach of channel partners.

Ascent leverages a relationship with investor and strategic advisor Sharath Keshava, co-founder of Observe.AI as well as co-founder/general partner at Carya Venture Partners, to make artificial intelligence purpose-built for contact center environments available to channel members.

The firm’s portfolio includes Humanic.ai, Symtrain, NuMind, Optiq.ai and Sanas, with Sanas acting as somewhat of a trigger in the assemblage of Ascent Business Partners and its suite of accessible artificial intelligence technologies.

Consider one of the most prevalent issues for customers calling into a contact center: not being able to understand the agent on the other end of the line. Sanus removes any accent heard on the other side in real-time, so contact centers can, according to Heaps, “Hire talent, not accent.”

A feature like this has the potential to heighten customer satisfaction as well as the productivity of agents who no longer have to spend extra time repeating themselves.

Big Names Embrace Bleeding-Edge AI

A self-described provider of “digital transformation as-a-service,” Ascent is a team of digital transformation executives who leverage state-of-the-art through strategic partnerships. Their stated mission is to, through understanding their customers, “… introduce impactful and innovative technologies that improve business operations and customer experience.

Technologies like AI.

Working under the umbrella of a sales enablement partner, Ascent brings bleeding-edge AI technologies to patrons Telarus and Avant that then leverage, package, sell and integrate those technologies into various systems for channel partners, this make it more accessible.

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8×8’s Jessica Smith

Jessica Smith, head of CCaaS product marketing at 8×8, said it is essential to underscore the importance of AI as a tool in the channel’s toolbox, adding, “It provides channel partners with the opportunity for an enormous competitive advantage.”

She believes that comprehending the evolving AI landscape means channel partners can provide customers with tailored recommendations for cloud-based, highly reliable, secure and scalable platforms that offer easy integration abilities.

“Further, by working within a vendor ecosystem rather than a single vendor, customers can change and mature their AI play,” Smith told Channel Futures.

Why Partners Need to Champion AI — Starting Now

It all boils down to catapulting contact centers into the modern age. “Most partners look at AI and say, ‘That’s cool, but what does it do?’” Heaps said.

The answer to that is instruction, and that process is a continuum. Partners must be educated by vendors as to what their technologies can do and cannot do. In turn, vendors need to hear success stories from partners.

How did one firm implement your technology in a way you never imagined doable? Those kinds of stories are important and might lead to more innovative solutions. On the quest to make accessible artificial intelligence technology more available, education is essential.  And partners must champion AI and all it can do to enhance and automate various business processes formerly thought of as manual.

Not only that, AI is not going anywhere. According to “The State of AI in 2023: Generative AI’s breakout year” from McKinsey & Co., although AI is still in its early stages of development, its adoption is widespread. And that is consistent with the fact that nearly every UCC provider has some form of generative AI inserted into its offerings.

Just today, GoTo launched its AI-fueled sentiment analysis and chat summary features. The firm  scattered AI capabilities into its CCaaS solution, just as many have done before and will continue to do.

 

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Moshe Beauford or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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About the Author(s)

Moshe Beauford

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Moshe has nearly a decade of expertise reporting on enterprise technology. Within that world, he covers breaking news, artificial intelligence, contact center, unified communications, collaboration, cloud adoption (digital transformation), user/customer experience, hardware/software, etc.

As a contributing editor at Channel Futures, Moshe covers unified communications/collaboration from a channel angle. He formerly served as senior editor at GetVoIP News and as a tech reporter at UC/CX Today.

Moshe also has contributed to Unleash, Workspace-Connect, Paste Magazine, Claims Magazine, Property Casualty 360, the Independent, Gizmodo UK, and ‘CBD Intel.’ In addition to reporting, he spends time DJing electronic music and playing the violin. He resides in Mexico.

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