Forrester predicts that investments in artificial intelligence (AI) will grow by 300 per cent in 2017, and a recent study by Narrative Science found that 68 per cent of enterprises will use AI technology by 2018. It is no secret that AI and cognitive technology is set to transform every sector. The healthcare sector, customer service and the public sector could change beyond recognition in the not-too-distant future – but how do UK consumers feel about these technological advances? Do they recognise the benefits this could have on their daily lives?
Benefits of an artificial intelligence age
The answer is yes. It is clear that British consumers are starting to warm to the idea of artificial intelligence and consider how this technology could impact their day-to-day activities.
Our recent research revealed that two thirds of UK citizens (66 per cent) believe robots will be working within government by 2037. Perhaps more surprisingly, one in ten UK citizens said robots would make better decisions on the economy than humans – demonstrating fledgling consumer confidence in artificial intelligence. Some local councils, such as the London Borough of Enfield, are already embracing this shift. Last year, Enfield collaborated with IPsoft to develop Amelia, robot technology dedicated to frontline council services, such as taking resident queries or authenticating licenses
In the healthcare sector, AI technology has already been used to update patient records, improve care delivery and streamline processes. Yet artificial intelligence is increasingly being heralded as the innovation set to achieve further breakthroughs in the sector. In fact, Accenture has predicted that artificial intelligence market is expected to grow more than 10x in the next five years, to around $6.6 billion. Mainstream adoption may be further down the line, but UK consumers already recognise the potential benefits. Our research found that one in three believe robots could offer a quicker diagnosis than their GP.
AI has the potential to transform every industry beyond recognition, and customer service is certainly no exception. Artificial intelligence and cognitive technology is already making waves in the customer service sphere and holds the potential to revolutionise the interaction process. For example, Nordic bank Nordea is already rolling out AI technology to speed up its customer service processes, specifically to prioritise loan queries and applications. UK consumers are definitely starting to sit up and take notice of these developments, with many believing that a robot could provide better customer service than a human. In fact, our research revealed that more than a quarter think they would receive better customer service from a robot when ordering food in a restaurant while one in five think a robot would improve their experience when contacting a call centre.
Despite the growing optimism around artificial intelligence and the impact it could have on our everyday lives, there is still a ‘fear of the unknown’ amongst UK citizens. This is especially true when considering the potential effect AI could have on employment, with narratives around artificial intelligence and robot technology replacing jobs in the UK frequently emerging. While society embracing artificial intelligence and adopting automation will impact jobs, this disruption is not something we should fear. There is a significant upside for workers. From a productivity perspective, we spend a third of our time in the workplace collecting and processing data. Yet artificial intelligence could all but eliminate this work, freeing us up from time-consuming administration and allowing us to focus on other, more creative or rewarding aspects of our jobs. We should stop viewing artificial intelligence as an existential threat to employment. It should be seen as an opportunity to conduct a more fulfilling life.
The question is: how can organisations enable their customers to embrace change and put their trust in new technology? In this hyper-connected world, UK businesses need to ensure they are not only delivering the most innovative connected technology, but that this technology is reliable. This is the only way to install the level of trust needed for mass adoption. In order to achieve this, organisations will need to carefully manage and analyse their data sets.
The volume of information available today continues to grow. Across all sectors, organisations of every size are searching for methods to efficiently extract maximum value from both structured and unstructured data in order to apply it to business decisions and drive organisational success. This doesn’t need to be a daunting task. In fact, the use of machine to machine (M2M) communication and artificial intelligence has many benefits here.
By deploying technology to successfully navigate and manage these huge quantities of data, organisations can speed processes, improve frontline services and reduce human error. Artificial intelligence and cognitive technologies hold the potential to give organisations faster access to sophisticated insights, and consequently empower them to make better decisions for customers.
The future of artificial intelligence
The Digital Revolution will drive increasing reliance on cognitive technology and artificial intelligence – and every job in every industry will be impacted. There is an inevitable shift to incorporate artificial intelligence into certain processes as businesses turn to automation, and this will naturally feed through into the public sector, healthcare, government and customer services as well.
However, these technological advances in artificial intelligence can only take off if the British public trusts them. To achieve this, British businesses need to take a close look at their processes and pinpoint where automation and AI can make the greatest impact. By embracing this technology and demonstrating the benefits to customers, organisations can ensure they are not left behind in today’s Digital Revolution.
Mark Bridger, Vice President, UK, OpenText
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