As discussed in a previous post, artificial intelligence (AI) is entering mainstream enterprise computing in a big way. The vast majority of senior business decision-makers say AI is fundamental to their business strategies, driven largely by the competitive need to deliver a differentiated, unified customer experience. These leaders agree that customer expectations in the future will be set by businesses that are most adept at analyzing very large volumes of data on the backend, while providing a seamless CX across all communications channels. AI will be key to this agenda.
You’ve already experienced AI as a customer yourself
One of the most pervasive, early manifestations of AI in CX are the pop-up ads that appear when we browse social media sites. At first, it may have seemed as though a product we happened to find interesting must be advertised very heavily for those pop-ups to appear so often. Repeat occurrences with different products makes it clear that pop-up placement is driven by some knowledge of our own interests, appearing for us without appearing for everyone else.
What’s happening is that information about your interest, as reflected in online searches and visits to sites that track viewers, is being mined by AI algorithms to match ads to interest. When it doesn’t work as expected – when you’re presented with large volumes of ads for products that don’t interest you – it’s annoying. When it does work with accuracy, presenting ads that entice at exactly the right moment (what Gartner refers to as “Business Moments”), it can drive high-value clicks that lead to purchases.
As AI advances, you’ll find it increasingly helpful
The placement of targeted pop-ups is child’s play compared to what’s coming. Increasingly, the companies you deal with most will be able to tailor their interactions with you in myriad ways that would not have been possible with traditional, “human-driven” interaction. The person – or chat bot – you interact with will have instant access to information regarding previous interactions in order to better serve you. You won’t wait while someone looks something up. You won’t explain nearly so often why you made contact. High-powered, real-time AI data sweeps along with complex machine learning will make that possible. And you’ll almost certainly prefer dealing with companies who leverage it for far more efficient and effective customer interaction.
AI will also make your interaction across multiple communications channels more efficient and effective. It won’t matter whether you make contact by home phone, mobile phone, email, landing page, or text. The business you’re dealing with will know it’s you, regardless of medium, and deliver service equally well across them all.
AI’s impact on enterprise networks
The massive expansion and introduction of CX-driven AI also means that tomorrow’s networks will be very different from those operated by most enterprises today. Delivering value will require the transmission of much higher volumes of data, directed to multiple locations, with a very high degree of availability – failure to accomplish this means an instant return to pre-AI customer service quality. That’s a primary reason why many enterprises are switching to software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) solutions, for example, our SD-WAN Concierge, which offer businesses a higher degree of capacity and flexibility at lower cost, with virtually zero downtime and simplified expansion/updating.
Enterprises that have not yet begun exploring SD-WAN are encouraged to do so soon. As more companies move in that direction – and are able to provide a superior customer experience as a result – SD-WAN will increasingly become a competitive necessity, especially if you have designs on using AI to boost CX.
Stephen Farkouh is SVP, Software Products and Services for Windstream Enterprise. He is responsible for building software solutions that digitally connect, transform, and elevate our customers’ experience. At WE, Stephen cultivates an environment where agility and velocity are paramount, leading to the delivery of highly regarded solutions including customer portals, integrations with 3rd-party productivity tools, and OfficeSuite UC – the first ever 100% cloud-based Unified Communications platform. He joined Windstream in 2017 via the acquisition of Broadview Networks, where he held a number of leadership positions over 18 years, most recently EVP, Information Systems. Prior to that, Stephen was with a number of other industry leaders including Teleport Communications, now AT&T, and Objective Systems Integrators. He began his career on the technical staff at Bell Communications Research (Bellcore), and holds a Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Princeton and a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Columbia.