The rapid advancement of technology over the last couple of decades has already fundamentally changed the way businesses operate, but the next game-changing shift is set to come from AI, opening up a myriad of new possibilities for businesses in all sectors. PwC’s Sizing the prize report estimates that AI will add up to $15.7tr to the global economy by 2030 – $6.6tr of which is attributed purely to productivity gains. So, there’s no doubt that your customers will be wanting a piece of the pie.
From bots, virtual assistants and speech recognition technology, to IoT (the Internet of Things) and analytics, there’s no end to the ways your customers might look to adopt AI in their own workplace, or through the products and services they offer to their own customers. All with a view to becoming more efficient and effective through the intelligent use and application of data – as well as maintaining that all-important competitive edge.
The potential of AI for your customers will vary depending on what sector they’re in. But a good way to think of it is this: that wherever your customer drives the most value at the moment is also where AI has the most potential to add value. For an accountancy firm, it’ll be automated bid management, for instance; for a recruiter, it’ll be applicant screening technology; for energy companies, it’ll be smart meters for consumers, and predictive maintenance for the business itself. And so on.
AI is going to be massive. That much is clear. The key for channel partners is to set your customers up with the right foundations to make AI adoption a real possibility for them, so they don’t get left in the dust. Which means three key things: connectivity, continuity, and backup.
Big news: big data’s getting bigger
PwC’s report puts it like this: ‘AI will exploit the digital data from people and things to automate and assist in what we do today, as well as find new ways of doing things that we’ve not imagined before.’
AI clearly needs data, so it’s handy that your customers have probably got more data than they know what to do with. (And thanks to the arrival of GDPR in 2018, hopefully that data will be a bit more organised than perhaps it once was.) As cloud-adoption continues at pace in businesses big and small, the volume of data they have is only going to grow.
So, your customers need the ability to store and process huge amounts of data, especially if they’re to unlock the potential of AI in the future. Disaster recovery and backup are crucial here. Big data’s only any good if you can always access it, no matter the time, day or place (and if you never lose it).
Connectivity and continuity are crucial
Chatbots and speech technology are an obvious example of AI technology already being keenly adopted by any B2C or B2B company needing to communicate with customers efficiently. This kind of technology can reduce burden on contact centres, while improving customer service and loyalty, and brand reputation.
This is also where those productivity gains that we touched on earlier come in (set to be worth $6.6tr by 2030), as chatbots free up staff to build better relationships and produce better quality work. What’s more, AI chatbots will only get better and better over time at dealing with FAQs and even delivering increasingly personalised customer service.
But the thing about this kind of technology is that for it to be as effective as possible, it requires constant connectivity and solid business continuity. The same applies to any intelligent, AI-driven software your customers choose to adopt – whether employee or customer facing.
That’s why your job as a channel partner is to provide the solid foundations to support your customers, preparing them to truly unlock the potential of AI. It’s worth remembering that AI will first be about automating and speeding up the things your customers’ already do – but then it’ll be about supporting new things that have never been done before. Change readiness is key for disruption of this kind.