It’s a question being increasingly explored in classrooms, newsrooms, boardrooms and living rooms. How will Artificial Intelligence impact the future of work and commerce? There is certainly no shortage of statistics or speculation on the subject. But perhaps someone should ask Alexa.
Smart speakers and intelligent virtual assistants have already had a significant impact on consumer culture, driving a preference for screenless, more natural interactions with brands. The latest research shows that Voice-driven self-service is emerging as a preferred medium of interaction in many parts of the customer journey. At the same time, Google and other API providers have moved speech and Natural Language Processing into the Cloud, increasing the quality of these technologies while reducing the cost of entry. These innovations are allowing businesses of all sizes to deploy Conversational AI, whereas previously only large enterprises could afford to leverage it. Experts expect these trends to accelerate in the coming year and decade.
So, how will Conversational AI transform the future of work and commerce in the 2020s? Below are some statistics and speculation that may surprise you.
Conversational AI Will Enable Traditional Telecom Carriers to Drive New Business Value and Increase Differentiation Among Digital Customers.
The digital era is calling for the reinvention of traditional telecom. Contemporary customer demand has evolved far beyond legacy voice services and connectivity—and that’s true for both consumers and enterprises. According to a recent report from Forrester, IT/telecom decision-makers do not currently view telco carriers as a Digital Transformation partner of choice, and telcos must partner with an ecosystem of digital service providers to remain competitive.
Conversational AI provides an attractive opportunity for network providers to offer new product lines that will drive additional streams of revenue. Telcos that adopt providers of these technologies into their digital ecosystems will become viable partners for enterprises that seek to give consumers the conversational self-service experiences they crave. A recent survey of telco executives found that six out of 10 carriers expect partner ecosystems to drive cost-effective innovation, and half expect their revenues to grow by more than 16 percent over the next two years “on the back of successfully building partner ecosystems.”
Conversational AI Platforms Will Enhance Job Skills, Wages, Satisfaction and Retention for Customer Service Professionals.
The evolution of Natural Language Processing has made it possible for brands to automate more of the customer inquiries that live agents have traditionally handled over Voice, Chat, and Text, without compromising the customer experience. But that doesn’t mean that Conversational AI will create an existential crisis for customer service professionals.
Automating routine service requests, such as frequently asked questions or payment processing, allows live agents to develop and focus their skills for higher value conversations (upsells to VIP customers, for example) that drive more revenue for themselves and their organizations. In fact, Forrester estimates that brands will spend $8 billion more on customer service agents in 2020 than the prior year due to the demand for advanced skills, and the salaries and employee experience improvements that are necessary to retain highly skilled agents.
Increased agent productivity will also be good for the global economy. A 2017 study conducted by PwC calculates that global GDP will be 14 percent higher by 2030 as a result of AI adoption, contributing an additional $15.7 trillion to the global economy. Productivity improvements are expected to account for more than a third of that economic gain ($6.6 trillion), as organizations seek to augment the productivity of their human workforce with AI technologies.
Conversational AI Will Speed Time to Market for Businesses and Simplify the Process of Delivering New Products and Services.
Business growth often depends on a brand’s ability to quickly innovate and scale up to capture additional market share. Launching new products or services, in new markets, has traditionally required a substantial investment in staffing to process the flood of new sales and service requests, in additional time zones and/or languages. As more and more businesses augment their workforce with Conversational AI, those costs will be dramatically reduced.
Brands will be able to bring their new offerings to market faster because AI-enabled Virtual Agents and Chatbots can be rapidly deployed. Previously, it could take months to deploy a new self-service application, especially if it included Natural Language Processing. Now, virtual agents can be developed and deployed within minutes, which helps businesses support new products more quickly.
These virtual agents can understand hundreds of languages and “work” around the clock. They will allow businesses to connect with new customers, support more consumer purchases across more channels, and foster unique revenue streams. It’s no wonder that Gartner has forecasted that business value derived from Artificial Intelligence will reach $3.9 trillion in 2022 and that virtual agents will account for more than a quarter (26 percent) of that value.
The Democratization of AI and Speech Technology Will Drive a New Marketplace for Developers Who Are Building Applications for the Next Wave of Tech.
The trend toward low-code, no-code platforms means businesses – and consumers – can now access Conversational AI solutions that offer intuitive development environments with pre-built applications that can be easily customized. These tools will create new entrepreneurial opportunities, as software and “citizen” developers use them to launch their own Conversational AI applications. Think back to the launch of the App Store in 2008; the company recently announced that it has paid out more than $100 billion to developers during the past decade.
Furthermore, McKinsey estimates that by 2030, AI could help create 20 to 50 million new jobs globally for both in-house IT workers and external or outsourced tech consulting jobs.
It’s impossible to predict all the ways in which Conversational AI will impact the future of work and commerce, but what’s clear is that it will create enormous value for enterprises and the global economy. Over the next decade, we will see these technologies boost revenues, jobs, wages, and industries. And they will remain a topic of conversation for years to come.