Is AI the new Business Intelligence?

The business and mainstream press is rife with articles warning us that the robots are coming. South Korea recently made the news when it announced its intention to introduce what is being described as the first tax on robots.

The Daily Telegraph reported that it will limit tax incentives for investments in automated machines as part of a proposed revision of its tax laws. It hopes the move will make up for lost income taxes as the country’s workers are gradually replaced by machines. The newspaper also wrote that according to the Korea Times, the tax would help fill the ‘welfare coffers’ ahead of an expected rise in unemployment.

Meanwhile, Saturday’s Times newspaper featured Max Tegmark’s book, Life 3.0 Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence and reviewer Oliver Moody explains that the book is an attempt to come to terms with what the author believes is “the most important conversation of our time”, which is the prospect of an “artificial general super-intelligence”. Moody describes this ‘crudely’ as a “computer program that can do anything we can do, but better”. 

It is both a fascinating and frightening prospect. Indeed, some sectors are already having to face up to the fact that robots might outperform humans in some roles sooner than we think. The International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) and Oracle have published a report entitled, Next Generation Service: The Role of AI, IoT and Automation in Contact Centre Transformation. It focuses on cutting-edge technologies that are rapidly infiltrating today’s contact centres and how they are changing the customer experience in new and positive ways.


It found that the vast majority (85 per cent) of organisations want AI while two fifths (41 per cent) expect contact centres’ use of bots and artificial intelligence to increase in the next 12-18 months. It also explored the use of Internet of Things (IoT) and connected technologies which allow objects to collect and exchange data. Nearly three fifths (57 per cent) intend to support or offer IoT/connected technologies within the next 6-12 months, which is a 21 per cent increase on previously.

It would seem that the change in perception is due to the tangible benefits of using such new technologies. Those organisations offering IoT/connected technologies reported a 50 per cent increase in customer satisfaction.

“The increased presence of connected devices and artificial intelligence in the contact centre is inevitable. Contact centres are wise to look toward the future and make it a priority to adopt new technologies that support these capabilities,” says Justin Robbins, group director, content and community, ICMI. “The benefits of adopting these new technologies will be realised from the executive office to the frontline employee to the individual customer and will have a major impact on the entire customer service experience.”

Another key finding from the survey was that more than half (52 per cent) of organisations consider service to be their primary competitive differentiator while one third (31 per cent) considered it to be their product and only 17 per cent considered it to be their price.

AI and connected or ‘smart’ technologies are playing an increasingly important part in the customer experience, whether customers are aware of it or not. And what’s more, they appear to like it. The leadership challenge amid all of this is to ensure robotic and other technologies are packaged in a human way so the recipient doesn’t feel a machine is behind the customer service experience. Put simply, it is about playing to the strengths of both and the organisations that have the appropriate training, support and leadership in place to ensure this happens will be the ones that are super-intelligent.

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