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Three areas AI can add real value to your workplace

A lot has been written recently about the unstoppable march of the machine. And as readers of previous blogs will know, I am a fan of the opportunities this will open up for us all. All that we see today convinces me that the outcomes will be overwhelmingly positive.

In a piece of Ricoh commissioned research, we found that European employees demand smarter working, and expect it to help them be more productive. Some 41% are seeking a reduction in repetitive tasks and more than a third (36%) call for the automation of admin tasks.

Technology can put employees at the centre of an organisation, enabling and empowering them to do more.

When looking at AI through this lens, you can see some of the real-life business benefits.

Here are three areas in which I see a form of AI making a big impact on our workplaces:

 

 1) The AI-powered customer contact centre

One key advantage the human brain still has over machines is empathy. That’s why humans will always have the most crucial role when it comes to interacting with customers.

However, we can use the machine to better equip our customer service team. The advantages it brings to the processing of massive amounts of data, or searching records immediately are obvious and great. A decision-making process (which mimics human intelligence) means incoming calls can be prioritised and a customer directed to where they need to go without the annoying sequence of “press 1 for…”

In an inbound call centre, the machine processes the initial customer phone call (or email) and can ascertain where the customer needs to be referred to.

 

2) The AI chatbot salesman

Chatbots have already been making waves in the customer service spheres, but what about sales?

A handful of brands are experimenting with how they can be used to handle non-urgent customer queries. If you’re not familiar with the term, chatbots mimic human conversations through websites and social media platforms. Think of the little pop-up on your screen that appears when you are booking a holiday that says: “Hi, I’m Charlie, I see you have been here for a while. How can I help?”  Charlie is sadly not a person.

In consumer spheres, a useful application could be as something as simple as ordering a pizza through a chat service such as Facebook Messenger, and having it delivered to your door

Staples is using machine learning to automate its ordering process for customers, teaching an army of chatbots to learn from the conversations it has with its customers. If the request is too complex, the system will pass it off to a human.

What’s the value in doing this? You free up your sales force from performing lower value interactions, allowing them to focus on more complex problems and add greater value to your customer.

 

3) The AI collaboration aid

 Collaborative workforces sit at the heart of successful businesses. As interactions get more complex, keeping an effective paper trail and organising workflows get increasingly more difficult.

This is where AI can come in to do the heavy lifting, making that experience seamless for all users, enabling them to more be productive.

Ricoh’s interactive whiteboards are an example of this in action. A cognitive-enabled, highly interactive tool, it uses IBM’s Watson intelligence to be an active meeting participant. Real-time analytics help guide discussions so teams can work smarter by making faster, better and more informed decisions.

Use of these AI applications are a way of empowering digital workplaces. Technology should be seen as a tool to help us, not hold us back, or replace us.

Where else do you see AI applying value to your organisation? I would love to know your thoughts in the comments below.

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