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Artificial Intelligence: Here Now and Helping the Channel

More than just a futuristic buzzword, AI is already driving business results in productivity and customer service.

July 26, 2017

4 Min Read
Robotics

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Alex Shvayetsky

By Alex Shvayetsky, Founder, SupportBots

Few people have a clear understanding of what “AI” really means at the present moment. Even Mark Zuckerberg is fuzzy on the concept, if you believe Elon Musk.

Right now, most people think of AI as embodied in some futuristic robot that will eventually take their jobs and might even create a human vs. machine conflict that everyone should worry about.

The truth is, AI is already here in the form of consumer tools that improve our daily lives: Think image recognition with Facebook to provide photo recommendations, natural language processing by Siri on your iPhone or machine learning by Amazon to recommend products you might like.

There are many other areas where AI is providing not just a better user experience, but actual, measurable business results. And it’s not just in development stage; it’s happening right now. Artificial intelligence in medicine is saving thousands of lives every year. AI-powered health assistants by Baidu, Your.MD, Babylon Health, Morpheo and Ada can provide users with immediate information about their medical conditions. AI-based clinical decision-making programs powered by IBM Watson and Google DeepMind help to alleviate the load on medical professionals by diagnosing easily recognizable health concerns and red-flagging potential problems on medical images that require immediate attention.

The IT sector and MSPs have been significantly impacted by this AI revolution as well. To save money for companies and to increase workers’ productivity, AI-driven applications don’t need to fully replace humans in the workplace, as many might fear. All they have to do is to augment humans’ abilities and supplement their skills by automating some processes. Seamless cooperation between people and technology would allow workers to concentrate on the aspects of their jobs that would make them most productive.

Take, for example, Salesforce with Einstein as well as Microsoft with Dynamics 365 — both are trying to do exactly that. Both offer AI capabilities for customer relationship management (CRM) software that’s embedded in their applications. The idea, as Einstein’s general manager John Ball put it, is “to democratize the benefits of machine learning for businesses that don’t have data science expertise. For the vast majority of companies, it’s too hard.”

In CRM, these AI tools can score leads by predicting which are more likely to present better opportunities to be converted to customers, so sales reps can concentrate their attention and focus on those leads, resulting in increased productivity. Einstein can suggest the best time to email a lead and the best time to follow up, based on when that customer is most likely to check email. It can automatically track important developments, send alerts and create calendar entries. All of this is done seamlessly behind the scenes and is achieved through …

… processing and analyzing the massive amounts of customer data that Salesforce and Microsoft have access to.

Most customer service software and support ticket systems, such as Zendesk and Intercom, now have AI-powered assistants that customers can interact with across multiple channels. ServiceAssistant by Talla works as an IT help desk inside Slack and Microsoft Teams and uses natural language processing to not only get customers automated answers, but to also let employees interact with ServiceAssistant and one another.

And AI in IT is not limited to just chatbots and CRM tools. KodaCloud offers customers AI-powered Wi-Fi as a cloud service. This network as-a service model uses AI to actively manage networks in real time with the ability to do monitoring via an app, bypassing the need for a dedicated IT team to watch clients’ networks.

The use of AI-based technology will continue to grow exponentially. Though researchers have been working on AI in one form or another for over 50 years, we are just now starting to see the real benefits of all those decades of investments. We truly are at the very first stages of an AI revolution that will influence and transform every aspect of our personal and business lives.

Partners: What duties would you like to hand off to AI?

Alex Shvayetsky is the founder of SupportBots, which offers an AI-driven solution to provide customer support services for MSP and IT service providers. SupportBot is a chatbot designed to improve customer service, save time and reduce costs associated with support. Alex can be reached at [email protected].

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