Artificial intelligence (AI) is already a part of consumer applications and is fast becoming a larger part of our work environment. It is offering ways to improve our communication with customers through chatbots and personalize our marketing efforts through big data analysis done by machine learning. AI can also help improve sales rep productivity and performance through analysis of current processes and approaches with your prospects.
As such, it’s generating an incredible new market opportunity. According to a recent report by International Data Corp., the market could deliver approximately $47 billion in revenue by 2020, as well as generate even more for those organizations that incorporate AI as part of their processes, driving greater profitability from the efficiency and market intelligence that’s delivered.
Although beneficial and lucrative, many fear that AI will replace people because of what it can accomplish with information collection and analysis, as well as the speed at which it delivers those insights. However, there are things that AI can’t do that people can, making people a very important part of many types of equations.
What AI cannot do
A Harvard Business Review article on emotional intelligence illustrated that, while AI can do many things a person cannot, there are some activities that a machine may never be able to accomplish. As the article stated, “Those that want to stay relevant in their professions will need to focus on skills and capabilities that artificial intelligence has trouble replicating—understanding, motivating, and interacting with human beings.
A smart machine might be able to diagnose an illness and even recommend treatment better than a doctor. It takes a person, however, to sit with a patient, understand their life situation (finances, family, quality of life, etc.), and help determine what treatment plan is optimal.”
The same goes for other complex business problems and situations that involve other people. These include motivating a team, identifying influencers that can convince others to do or think a certain way, and delivering the type of communication that truly engages the audience, as it involves aspects that connect directly to a certain emotion. That means that emotional intelligence (EQ) will still be necessary, making people even more critical when AI takes over more processes and tasks in the future.
There’s also the trust factor. Going back to the example of health care, it’s going to take a while for doctors to trust AI enough to hand over important tasks like diagnosing—even if the capabilities exist.
“It’s a little bit similar to how you try to go into the cold water on a hot summer day,” explains Bertalan Mesko of the Medical Futurist. “First, you look at other people doing it, then you realize it’s safe, so you put your toes in the water before entirely going under.”
AI has also not been able to learn on its own in a vacuum. Instead, people are required to help any type of AI get a better understanding of all types of things, processes, jobs, and interactions. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg explained, “One way that I think you’re going to see bots work, between people who are actually driving the businesses directly, will need to in some way train or answer questions for people, but we can build artificial intelligence that can learn from people how to automate a lot of that and make that experience a lot faster for people who want to interact with businesses and public figures.”
What people can do with AI
The way people interact has yet to be emulated by a machine, even with the deep learning capabilities that are currently being developed. That’s because people are the only ones capable of understanding the complexities of language. These nuances include body language, inflection and tone, and other cues. Machines have not been able to decipher those subtleties, let alone use them in any capacity that another human would be convinced was another person. Therefore, people are necessary for those situations where emotions are involved, including complex customer experiences or issues. A person can understand another person’s real intent when they hear, see, and interact with people expressing such emotions and body language.
What people can do is get more detailed information quickly while they are interacting with others—information that might have otherwise taken months and years to compile into a set of patterns that justify certain reactions or strategic decisions. This leaves many in the audience more satisfied because they get rapid, personalized responses that they never previously received. Rather than making AI into something threatening, it creates the prospect of something wonderful and offers the promise of greater innovation through the collaborative process that is possible from the combination of technology and human dynamics.
How to get the best from people and AI
According to Roy Raanani, CEO of Chorus.ai, the best approach is to leverage technology and people to do what each does best. “When scaling quickly, you’re only as good as your average person. Technology like ours can help you learn how your top performers operate and replicate those learnings to everyone else. You can put AI to work to do the time-consuming analysis of the incredible amount of knowledge you have available within your organization. Building a culture of collaboration and continuous learning is required to take advantage of this, and that is up to the managers.”
Mark Beccue of Tractica, a market intelligence firm that focuses on human interaction with technology, firmly believes chatbots benefit both the customer and the business. As he explains, “Intelligent virtual assistants tick numerous boxes in terms of demand-side customer care market drivers, including 24/7 availability, speed, and self-service. Virtual assistants could increase customer satisfaction and help companies overcome consumers’ widespread dread of engaging customer care.”
This best-of-both-worlds approach is what will make people and processes even more important than they are today. While AI writes the manual on what works, people are needed to activate it. In the future, AI will be able to take best practices from one rep and provide a cheat sheet to others on the best way to take a conversation forward.
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