The speed with which Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become embedded in real-world business strategy is phenomenal. Even before the pandemic, an Oxford Economics and NTT DATA survey in early 2020 revealed 70% of companies had already piloted or fully implemented AI – just 4% were not even researching the technology. Since then, as we know, companies have fast-tracked digital transformation plans to address the new challenges presented by a global pandemic – with many call centres increasing their usage of chatbots.
So how are companies using AI today and what does the rapid acceleration in AI confidence and adoption mean for efficient digital operations?
As a technology that is capable of performing ‘softer’ tasks (those usually associated with people skills, such as facial recognition, decision making or conversation), AI has an obvious role to play in improving the customer experience. Operating 24x7 and providing instant responses, chatbots already save businesses substantial capital expense. Companies can flex customer service operations to create a blended approach that uses chatbots to initially triage customer enquiries, with skilled call centre staff handling the most complex customer questions. Juniper Research predicts an $8 billion saving for businesses by 2022, up from just $20 million in 2017.
The fact that chatbots can be instantly updated with the latest information was especially valuable during the pandemic. Vodafone is using its own chatbot, TOBi, to interact with customers conversationally. Powered by IBM Watson technology, TOBi can take a set of words and determine meaning, tone, and intent. Once he understands what a customer needs – and that’s more than 90% of the time – he can provide both simple and complex answers, and even make the necessary changes to the customer account in question.
The operational changes that can be achieved by using chatbots are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using AI within business. When combined with other technologies, AI can provide businesses – and employees – with new ways of working, opening up a huge variety of use cases across industries.
For example, Vodafone 5G and Edge Computing have removed the physical distance between ambulances and hospitals, helping response teams in Milan share key patient data with emergency departments faster and prevent treatment delays on arrival. With this capability, paramedics will be able to send vital signs and 360° images in real time or make reliable video calls to aid diagnosis, and they can instantly review a patient’s healthcare history and apply required procedures by wearing AR-equipped glasses (an AI technology). Also, doctors can receive diagnostic exams from the scene before the patient arrives at the hospital, optimising the treatment time, while connected ambulances help staff in A&E to target treatment and prioritise the most urgent cases.
It’s the capability of 5G networks, with their superfast speeds and ultra-low latency, which is changing the AI conversation. Used in tandem with Edge Computing, where data is collected and processed at the edge of the network for even faster response rates, 5G networks are allowing companies to add AI technology into vital operational processes.
For example, using a dedicated 5G Mobile Private Network, robotic manufacturing can be deployed effectively in any location where fixed connectivity is not an option. With superfast data streams, companies can safely combine robots and employees within the same locations, which means achieving the ‘low touch’ manufacturing and warehouse processes required to improve quality and productivity while driving costs down.
AI combined with 5G will also allow companies to change how they use drones. Once they can be flown successfully beyond the visual line of sight, drones can remotely inspect buildings, undertake security fly-bys or make deliveries in hard to reach areas.
But drones can also create security concerns – which is why Dedrone is using Edge Computing to keep track of drones and safeguard airspace. Integrating its counter-drone platform into Vodafone’s Edge Computing, Dedrone provides companies’ security teams with automated alerts and images in the event of a drone intrusion. Businesses immediately receive warnings if a drone has entered forbidden airspace, enabling real-time action to remove the potential threat.
Companies have gained confidence in AI technologies and are now ready to take the next step.
Want to find out more about the digital technologies transforming businesses and laying the foundations for the future? Check out our guide.
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