December 19, 2018 | By

What Does 2019 Have in Store for AI?

Well, it’s that time again (can you believe it?).  The time where we look back and reflect on the year that was and discuss what we can expect from the year to come.   So here it goes.

2018 was the year that AI moved from an experiment for many companies to a critical way that companies engage with employees and customers alike.  We saw companies, like ours, making the technology much more approachable and as a result, there were some really great real-world successes.   So what can we expect for 2019?  Here are my thoughts:

2019 and the rise of the AI-enabled personal assistant.

We’ve only just scraped the surface of what is possible. 2019 will be the year we see AI move from a position of augmenting an experience to becoming a full-fledged assistant.  Where today AI-powered chatbots and VCAs are reactionary, we’ll see the technology grow to provide proactive assistance.  No longer will chatbots sit on the sideline waiting to be asked a question, they will be able to anticipate the needs of customers and proactively offer them timely, tailored recommendations based on known information like location and past engagements. Not bad, right? Who wouldn’t want a personal assistant available day and night?

Digital Business will be Humanized by AI

For long enough, consumers have traded off the convenience of being able to do most of their business online for the personalization they used to get when they walked into a storefront or business. 2019 will be the year that consumers stop compromising.  AI will make it possible to bring that in-person experience to the digital world by leveraging customer preferences and behaviors to help agents (bots or humans) better understand needs and provide more personalized recommendations.  AI is also getting smarter in terms of how it can communicate.  Natural Language Processing and ability to be multi-lingual will be key for companies that use bots for customer service.   It’s all about being able to connect with customers – in a highly-personalized manner — when, where and how they want.

Employee Experience Will Be the Next AI Frontier

Customer Experience has been the focus of a lot of AI conversations in 2018.  Next year, we’ll see companies move what they’ve learned from their CX AI implementations internally as well.  Almost every benefit AI offers customers can be translated to employees.  We are starting to see this in the IT and HR spaces where there are a lot of highly repetitive tasks and questions.  In 2019, we’ll see this become more pervasive and move even deeper into the service organizations of businesses.  Through AI companies will have a much better understanding of who their employees are and will be able to offer assistance tailored specifically to them.

AI Won’t Take Over the World

This year, similar to last, there was a lot of conversation around how AI will radically change every aspect of our lives – at home and at work. While AI has made some really great strides this year, it’s not going to cause an uncomfortable tidal wave of change. Instead it will be more of a silent force that works in the background to help us all work faster and smarter. Despite fear-mongering claims that seem to run rampant, 2019 will not be the year that bots takes over the world.  Not only are humans required to train and manage bots, but we are not even close to a point where AI can run on its own.  There are tasks that bots are good at and others that require a human touch.    AI cannot replace the flexibility and empathy of a person – and it won’t.

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