By Mike Murphy, COO, Creative Virtual USA
You’ve seen the “Technologists” and “Futurists” with their neon-framed spectacles warning us that the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Revolution is going to put all of us out of work. Well…maybe they were right this time! We saw a couple of big news stories just in the last couple of months…first IBM Watson devoured some poor souls at MD Anderson and PWC, then Facebook lost a few fingers in the chatbot gears. The robots did indeed take some jobs…but not in the way the Futurists predicted. These folks were technology casualties because they were operating under the premise that their technology alone can do great things. And they’re right..Machine Learning and AI technology can do great things. But that doesn’t mean that it will. Luckily enough, it looks like people are going to be the key technology to fulfilling the promise of AI in automating human tasks.
It was exceptionally impressive to watch Watson beat Ken at Jeopardy. But the process that Watson underwent to get to that point was the real key to its eventual success, much more so than any inherent technological capability. And that optimization process involved lots of good, old-fashioned humans. The key to successful automation is understanding the process and the artistry behind any task. And every job has an element of artistry. Take doctors for instance. If you ever overhear a conversation between friends recommending a doctor (or mechanic), there’s a pretty good chance it’s because they are ‘a really nice, pleasant person who listens’…or some version thereof. When people share a good customer service story, there are often elements of “empathy” and “ownership” mentioned in their telling as often as “intelligence”. And who hasn’t gone back to a diner more for the entertainment value of the wait staff than for the food? The point here is not to underestimate the complexity of any job, even simple ones, that humans perform today. And betting your own job on Watson to deliver on its promise is much riskier than you may think.
There is an important lesson to learn from IBM & Facebook’s failures with AI. But it isn’t that the technology isn’t ready to make significant impacts on your business. The lesson is an old one…that, when selecting a vendor to partner with, you choose one that best understands and appreciates the complexity of your business. While we’ve helped companies automate millions of conversations over the last 13 years, we still start each engagement by first understanding how their best employees perform the task well. And we understand the importance of a close partnership that continually works together with experts within your own business to ensure our solutions are effective and consistently providing the right customer experience. Avoid losing your job from ill-behaving robots by reaching out to us for more info.
And if you’re attending Enterprise Connect in Orlando, FL be sure to swing by the ‘Contact Centers 2020: What Will Drive Innovation in the Contact Center?’ panel starting at 1:00pm on Monday.