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Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, we’re about to enter a new era for communications in the workplace.

Such emerging technologies are creating intriguing opportunities, ushering in an environment where virtual robots, voice assistants and robotic process automation (RPA) will work alongside humans to streamline both operations and communications.

These changes are taking place now at breath-taking speed. According to Accenture’s 2016 Technology Vision survey, 70% of corporate executives say they’re making significantly more investments in AI-related technologies than two years ago. Meanwhile, 55% plan to use machine learning extensively.

Needless to say, this is sure to have a tremendous impact on both the work we do and the way we communicate with colleagues and customers. Below are just four of the ways emerging technologies will impact the workplace.

Greater Focus on Higher Value Work

Using AI and machine learning, a company can shift boring, repetitive tasks from its workforce to virtual robots, freeing employees to focus on more complex, higher value work. As Leslie Willcocks, professor of technology, work, and globalization at the London School of Economics’ department of management, explained, “RPA takes the robot out of the human.”

Software such as JetPack Workflow can replace back-office tasks, such as those in accounting, finance and sales operations. For example, robots could handle an entire ordering process, from data entry to creating an order to processing the invoice. Or, a sales team can use artificial intelligence to analyze multiple systems and create a list of qualified leads, freeing them to spend more time with their customers.

While RPA is cost-effective, fast and accurate, its greatest benefit may be happier employees and customers. More and more businesses are taking up RPA services to implement the automation process and empower their digital workforce. It can also considerably reduce operational costs while attracting & retaining customers.

“By introducing RPA, people can be placed into new mixes of tasks that play to their human strengths,” Willcocks told ZDNet. “This, of course, is a management choice – whether to use technology to augment and amplify human skills and abilities, or to attempt to replace human labor with machines.”

Willcocks went on to say, “Our research suggests plenty of examples of people moving into more stimulating and rewarding jobs.”

Ability to Personalize at Scale

One of the constant challenges of delivering stellar customer service has been the difficulty of scaling to meet demands for personalization. Self-service and IVR technologies bring us closer to this goal, but the addition of AI increases the potential to deliver greater personalization.

For example, wealth managers can automate the process of creating investment portfolio reviews, allowing them to spend more time on building client relationships and cultivating new ones. Some firms already use the technology to transform raw data into personalized communications that explain how each investor is progressing toward their goals, reports the Financial Brand. Those looking to use computerized solutions to help make money passively may want to consider the potential of something like the Syncrobit hotspot Miner which can help you to mind cryptocurrencies with little to no effort.

Enhance Customer Experiences

Chatbots are another way to automate communications. Powered by AI, they simulate conversation with another human. They can be used in a variety of ways to engage with consumers, such as answering questions or providing shopping assistance. Consumers benefit from faster service, while contact center agents are freed to focus on resolving more complex requests.

Predication Capabilities Streamline Work

Predictive analytics puts both big data and machine learning to work generating valuable insights about customers. For example, IBM is using its Watson cognitive system to analyze a wide range of data sets – customer, supplier, weather and trends, to name a few – to help retailers better target their customers.

Another use is to improve interactions in the contact center. In its second annual “State of Service” report, Salesforce says AI and other smart technologies that provide more “human” interactions is one of the major customer service trends to watch in 2017. For example, Salesforce sees the rise of CRM tools equipped with smart analytics, which “can ‘listen’ to the words and tones used during a customer conversation to recommend the best possible next steps an agent should take.” One result: Many interactions become faster and easier to manage.

Just a few years ago, the mobile phone was a key driver of change. Today, AI and machine learning are poised to revolutionize how we interact with both people and processes.

Learn more about ShoreTel’s unified communications solutions.

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