Artificial intelligence (AI), cloud-based platforms and the Internet of Things (IoT) are changing the communications landscape and driving digital transformation. However, integrating these emerging technologies into a unified communications platform remains a challenge, according to industry experts at Enterprise Connect 2019, March 18-21 in Orlando.
“Emerging technologies are enhancing the customer experience and employee productivity,” said consultant Zeus Kerravala, ZK Research, who led a panel on “Communications & Collaboration 2022: Emerging Technologies Realizing Their Promise?” For instance, voice-activated home AI systems, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) will be making their way from the consumer world to the enterprise.
Looking ahead, Kerravala said communications of the future will be personalized, predictive, contextual, continuous and location and device independent. “Eventually, we will live in a world where everyone is listening all the time. That means we will work together differently than we do now.”
“Eventually, we will live in a world where everyone is listening all the time. That means we will work together differently than we do now.” – Zeus Kerravala
Adam Champy, senior product manager of Google Cloud, said AI will lead to more personalization in e-commerce and media experiences. “The norms will be shifting, so the context is more important,” he said. “Any enterprise that doesn’t understand context will look byzantine compared to its competitors and will see customer turnover if it does not deliver a personalized experience.”
Mobile and digital tools, combined with AI applications, will provide greater contextual richness to communications, added David Chavez, VP Architecture and I
Several UC&C panelists emphasized the benefits of a cloud-based platform for accelerating deployments and increasing flexibility when serving customers in a contact center or collaboration environment. But Chavez pushed back when one panelist commented, “Anyone talking an on-premises solution these days is Neolithic.”
That’s simply not the case, said Chavez. “Hospitals that rely on quick and reliable communications platforms for vital patient care decisions find it difficult to put everything in the cloud. Other enterprises treasure their data or face regulatory requirements. There is no question that cloud technologies have many benefits, but some things still have to be done locally. Every organization is different.”
“Hospitals that rely on quick and reliable communications platforms for vital patient care decisions find it difficult to put everything in the cloud… There is no question that cloud technologies have many benefits, but some things still have to be done locally. Every organization is different.” – David Chavez
Champy then pointed to the appeal of hybrid solutions that blend cloud and premise applications. “You should think about where computation will be most beneficial to the end user,” he said.
In the contact center space, one of the challenges is to build a well-trained virtual agent who can serve customers with respect, Champy said. He noted it takes time to gather a large dataset, extract information on customer conversations, and begin training an AI system.
While following advances in technology, communications professionals should also pay attention to the regulatory landscape in areas such as data privacy. “Ownership of data will be an increasingly important consideration,” Chavez said. “Does personal data belong to an individual, a company or an aggregator – and who owns the data derived from that aggregation?”
Champy agreed. “We must be mindful of the choices we make and be sure that we are implementing AI for the greater social good.”