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AI in 2017 - learn to love your digital assistant

Claus Jepsen Profile picture for user Claus Jepsen November 21, 2016
AI and machine learning will have real impact at work in 2017. Unit4 chief architect Claus Jepsen explains why you'll learn to love your digital assistant

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We are now in an era where people want to achieve more for less. As technology rapidly transforms our daily lives, we’re seeing demand from users wanting to simplify interaction with their enterprise systems in the workplace. Technology is shifting to accommodate more accessible communication between man and machine.

In the last few years, commercial organizations have relied more and more on immersive technology such as data visualization, mobile devices and even wearables. The internet makes cross-device integration increasingly common, particularly as more devices become connected. As it becomes easier to connect with one another, the lines become increasingly blurred between our physical reality and the digital world. Enterprise success will depend on how effectively companies can manage both their intelligent machines and their human talent.

What’s coming next?

Throughout 2016, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have been huge buzzwords. 2017 is when they’ll start to have a real impact at work. In the coming year, we expect to see even more cloud users become accustomed to dealing with bots, and synchronizing their lives and operations to include digital assistants.

In the past year, Google and Microsoft have added more powerful AI services to their cloud platforms. Salesforce’s AI-infused analytics service attracted startups who used AI in their new apps, such as travel site Gogobot. These platforms allowed anyone with preliminary coding knowledge to create and deploy simple chatbots, and enabled small startups that otherwise would have lacked the bandwidth to create their own bots.  These have introduced many people to the idea of using technology to take over the operation of routine tasks. On a larger scale, employing digital bots means financial costs are lower, as time is saved on tasks usually spent on manual operations or classifying data.

In 2016, it was often a case of larger software vendors working to retrofit conversational user experiences and machine learning capabilities into their existing solutions. Going forward, new software will include those capabilities baked in, resulting in the convergence of conversational user experiences with augmented solutions designed with sophisticated self-learning capabilities.

In 2017, this will give birth to a completely new type of software constructed with intelligence as a fundamental design criterion rather than an afterthought. There will be even more proactive, dramatic evolvement of bots in our daily lives, allowing end users to focus on their jobs over the mechanics of maintaining the data and offering new competitive advantages for companies to make use of.

Markets and Markets' recent research predicts that by 2020, the AI market will skyrocket to $5.05 billion.

Your friendly digital assistant

The most well-known consumer bots so far are Microsoft Cortana, Amazon Alexa and Apple’s Siri. The trends in 2016 show that we will see the emergence of more technology that is simpler to use and less complex than today’s digital assistants.

This coming year, instead of filling pre-defined forms, users will take advantage of AI with easy language and communication services on familiar platforms such as Slack, Yammer, Skype, Facebook and Twitter.

This will be useful in allowing employees and remote companies to work easier and in more structured ways. As enterprises continue to operate through cloud-based systems, life in 2017 will be considerably easier in regards to performing digital tasks.

Functions such as expense reports, time sheets and other historic data will become more automated and streamlined, self-driving. This will allow skilled workers to focus more on core competencies. In other words, AI and bots will bring increased efficiency and productivity, not to mention fewer operating costs and improved service for customers across the globe.

In fact, AI will become so important to companies that research firm Gartner predicts an increased worldwide spending of $3.5 trillion on IT in 2017. This will be seen first in increased investments in the coming year, and will grow rapidly as we progress into the increasingly tech-friendly future.

For commercial organizations, the coming year will see a new source of competitive advantage; for the public sector, the ability to achieve more for less. If companies want to step up their efficiency and productivity, by liberating employees from tedious chores to invest in serving their customers, it's time to consider how AI and digital assistants can be put to work.

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