With AI getting machines to think like humans, there will a number of ways that AI can help your business, particularly within communication. Let’s look at the five key ways we’ve identified where I believe AI can add value.
No more call-routing
When you call a business Press 1 for Accounts, press 2 for Sales… etc. has got to be one of the most infuriating things to hear when the call first connects.
We are already used to talking to machines. Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri have made. Apple claim over half a billion people use Siri, although other articles suggest only 3 per cent of usage is in public. Amazon’s Echo and Dots accounted for 67 per cent of the sales of smart speakers in 2018, so there are a lot of people talking to smart devices. How long before call routing takes a leaf out of their book and uses AI to route your calls?
Why shouldn’t there be a Virtual Assistant on the end of every call? You simply tell them what you are looking for and it routes your call accordingly. No longer having to enter your choice during umpteen menu options, having to go back a couple of steps [and then go forward again] before you actually get to talk to a human who can answer your question.
Identifying hot leads
You receive huge amounts of electronic communication into your business: emails, social media etc. Unless someone overtly says, “I want to buy something”, it’s not always easy to spot the potential buying signals. AI algorithms could search through the electronic noise to spot the buying signals, whether based on word or tone, and then route that information into the Sales team.
If AI can help identify hot leads, there’s no reason why it cannot help once those leads convert to becoming a customer. Advanced algorithms will be able to spot billing anomalies with ease, reducing customer complaints and improving satisfaction levels.
What is the right contract for each customer? Telecoms companies often promise “you will always be on the best tariff”, but with the huge number of different tariffs being offered by most companies, how can an account manager (for B2B clients) be absolutely sure? With millions of B2C customers, how can the provider deliver on such a promise? Again, AI’s ability to sort data, and make decisions of that data, quickly can help. When customers, both B2B and B2C, believe that telecoms companies are delivering on their promises, satisfaction levels will increase, and churn will decrease.
Prioritising electronic communication
As mentioned before, we all get huge amounts of electronic communication. Knowing what is a priority, and what isn’t, is not easy. Any business coach or productivity expert worth their salt will recommend you develop a priority matrix, but simply finding time in the day to go through everything can take up a significant chunk of your day. Productivity is negatively impacted and your state of mind takes a nosedive as you filter the communication and decide whether it is a Quick Win or a Thankless Task.
AI can help here. Products such as Celaton can process that content and prioritise is for you. Of course, you still need to check the majority of the electronic information you are sent, but having it in a priority order will really help you do this.
IT and telecoms operators have been able to monitor their infrastructure for years. Knowing when a server or a switch goes down is vital to maintain network performance and products such as Solarwinds, ManageEngine and Datto’s RMM have been around for a long time. However, monitoring, reporting and then resolving issues such as fire and intrusion require AI. For example, whilst the technology within a CCTV camera that enables facial recognition or number plate recording (ANPR) is not AI, what happens with the data collected by the cameras can be classed as AI. Being able to report incidents to specific individuals or charge fees based on the data collected is just one example.
Automated threat detection by Intrusion Detection Systems/Intrusion Prevention Systems are being installed on more and more networks. As data becomes more valuable, more people want your data. Intrusion Detection Systems sit on the Of course, the IDS/IPS needs to learn what is a threat and what isn’t. There are two main ways that these systems know what to report: Signature-based (the threat matches something that is known) or Anomaly-based (the threat is different to other data).
These devices sit directly behind the firewall so they are able to analyse all incoming data to identify potential or actual threats.
With more and more data moving around today’s telecoms networks, the job of managing that capacity and routing traffic effectively becomes harder and harder. Simply collating and analysing network performance data, so decisions can be made, is increasingly difficult. AI systems can automatically react to optimise traffic flow, increase network performance and efficiency. Of course, robust control systems will need to be in place to ensure that a solution to one problem doesn’t impact the ability to deliver on others. Emergency services, for example, must always have priority for their communication needs.
Careful data management
There is one thing that you need to think very carefully about within any AI planning: what you can and cannot do with the data.
The most obvious issue is GDPR. When collecting data, you need to be very specific about what the data will be used for, particularly with consumer data.
There may also be other legislation that relates to your industry sector and the type of data you are processing using AI. It’s recommended that you check carefully so that time, effort and money are not wasted on an AI project that you cannot use.
These are just some examples of how I believe AI is going to impact telecoms, both the industry and users. Whilst some people will look at AI as something that is intruding and, at the extreme, going to take away jobs, our belief is that it will be a support tool. It will make our lives easier (particularly if it takes away “press 1 for…”). Technology will continue to move forward and to automate what can be automated. As a business owner, you have the choice of embracing the technology or try to push back.
Mike Ianiri, Director, Equinox
Image Credit: Advanced