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ChatGPT and the Channel: ‘We Haven’t Seen Innovation Like This in a Very Long Time'

In three to five years, customers will be able to have complete conversations with AI-backed chatbots.

Claudia Adrien

March 1, 2023

8 Slides

ChatGPT arrived like a tsunami, and the IT channel was well within its path.

In a matter of months, the vanguard chatbot created by OpenAI has influenced – and promises to influence – so many segments of society that counting how and where is pointless. Whether it’s writing a short story or laying out the fundamentals of deep philosophical concepts, the generative AI tool scrapes the internet and seemingly answers almost anything a user asks of it. [There’s a great summary at Makeuseof.com about how ChatGPT works in case you’re just catching up to the technology.]

For example, I queried ChatGPT about what role it could play in unified communications, or UC. It produced a five-point answer. Take point No. 5:

“ChatGPT can provide insights and analytics related to UC usage patterns. This includes the most frequently used features or the average length of video calls. This information can help businesses to optimize their UC strategies and improve their overall communication effectiveness.”

What’s the use of writing a news article about how ChatGPT will influence the channel? Any user can ask ChatGPT itself and likely get what they are looking for.

The short answer is that generative artificial intelligence tools can’t replace the lifetime of experience and knowledge the experts interviewed for this article have. At least not yet.

These experts suggest that generative AI’s path in the IT channel is more than just a technological story. It could reshape how business is done in this arena.

Understanding that is more than a five-point summary.

Unified Communications

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NEC’s Marc Hebner

From providing automated customer support to assisting with language translation, generative AI will change the playing field within the channel, according to Marc Hebner. He’s the senior vice president and head of enterprise business in the Americas at NEC. Hebner said when it comes to unified communications, the incorporation of generative AI will make meetings much more efficient and effective. Convening online will become the preferred method of work communication, he said.

For example, Hebner said the technology could recognize conference call participants verbally making plans for future meetings. The AI-backed tool could then “automatically kick [you] out a meeting invite.” Or the tool could digest massive amounts of information and even make value judgements about the key points of a call. These are just some of the ways Hebner said he sees Microsoft applying ChatGPT to the UC space. [Read more about Microsoft’s relationship with ChatGPT.]

Some experts argue UC hasn’t evolved dramatically in recent years. However, AI is already leveraged in unified communications and collaboration platforms. Generative AI promises to improve areas such as meeting summaries and surfacing information in real time. That said, analysts at research firm Omdia, which shares parent company Informa with Channel Futures, said it’s important to understand where ChatGPT won’t be useful. It cannot examine video, provide video sentiment analysis, or even read body language, at least not just yet.

Click on our slideshow above to continue reading.

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

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About the Author(s)

Claudia Adrien

Claudia Adrien is a reporter for Channel Futures where she covers breaking news. Prior to Informa, she wrote about biosecurity and infectious disease for a national publication. She holds a degree in journalism from the University of Florida and resides in Tampa.

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