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AI: Putting a Face on Unified Communications

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By 2025, AI software revenues will reach near $100 billion globally. To win, organizations must navigate the complex landscape of rapid technology advances and applications.5
—Informa Tech

41% of companies accelerated their AI strategies during COVID-19.2
—Appen’s 2020 State of AI and Machine Learning Report

Close to half of all consumer online searches are voice-based. As a result, voice shopping is projected to expand to $40 billion by 2022.1
—Wharton Customer Analytics

78% of CEOs say remote collaboration is here for the long term.3
—PWC CEO Panel Survey

AI puts a human face on Unified Communications

As we stayed home in 2020, we increasingly relied on AI-powered technology for everything from shopping to ordering food to getting medical advice. So much so that three-quarters of those who own voice assistants say they’re now a big part of their daily routines.1 They even speak to Siri and Alexa as if they were human, saying thanks, oops and I’m sorry.

Across industries, businesses responded by investing in the type of AI that powers virtual, contact-less interactions. From food delivery to online medical check-ins, virtual tutors to inventory tracking. And while the need to social distance forced the acceleration, the reliance won’t end with herd immunity. The benefits are just too irresistible: convenience, safety, cost-savings.

With hybrid work—and face it, hybrid life—as our future, we’ll continue to see AI-powered technology in new places. Like elevators with infrared thermometers and public spaces with crowd sensors that automatically limit capacity. We’ll continue to Zoom into tradeshows and join meetings over Microsoft Teams. All of which is great news for fans of Unified Communications.

As the solution that simplifies our digital lives and secures our data, Unified Communications is more necessary than ever. And it’s getting better than ever as AI with voice analytics, natural language processing and machine learning increases its capabilities and value.

More human technology

The more people use smart devices powered by AI, natural language processing and machine learning, the more precise these engines become. Together with advances in voice recognition, biometric sensors and facial and psycholinguistic analytics, AI can now “read” emotions and intent, and predict outcomes. These insights can help with everything from diagnosing illnesses to interacting with customers in a more intuitive, “human” way.

For example, MIT researchers discovered that people with asymptomatic COVID-19 have a slightly different cough—a difference that’s indecipherable to the human ear but can be picked up by AI over a cell phone! 4

In business, that high level of perception can detect when a customer is so frustrated, they might blow a proverbial gasket. So your AI-informed interactive voice response (IVR) system or chatbot can send an instant alert for an urgent response. Or route the call to the first representative available in your presence application to respond with appropriate empathy.

Satisfying customer experiences and continuous learning

When your IVR and chatbots can interpret a customer question, you can answer with a 5-star-worthy response. Let’s say someone needs help installing a product. Your IVR and chatbot can provide verbal instructions or written text and email directions. Or connect to a representative who specializes in installation. If it’s a billing issue, your AI-powered response will route the call to account service. If a customer is about to log out or hang up before purchasing, AI can automatically drop in a discount or promotion.

Even better: With audio analytics, your voice assistant provides customer service and learns from each interaction. For example, you can look at emotional indicators like enthusiasm and impatience throughout transcribed calls, along with data like length and outcome of call, to learn what works and what doesn’t for customer satisfaction—and sales.

More brainstorming brainpower

AI-infused collaboration tools can help keep the creative juices flowing during meetings and brainstorming sessions. Without losing momentum or disengaging from the discussion, you can ask your integrated AI voice assistant to find out what the competition is doing, reference notes from last week, compare year-over-year sales data and search for metrics from your marketing campaign, for example.

You can stay on your train of thought while your AI assistant searches and displays the results in words and pictures on a shared screen for everyone to view. It can even help spark new ideas by using semantic language cues and natural language processing to proactively share related information and ideas. Or suggest you reach out to a specific expert—and then automatically connect you to the person.

Better use of time

Personal secretaries have the gone the way of the typewriter, but AI-powered voice assistants can take on time-consuming, creativity-crushing administrative tasks. Like scheduling and confirming meetings, making calls, sending IMs and texts, and turning voice messages into emails. In meetings, AI can make the most of everyone’s time together by enhancing video quality and removing distracting tasks. For example, AI-powered sensors and voice assistants can:

  • Prepare and distribute agendas and reference files based on past information gained through machine learning
  • Improve audio and image quality automatically, silencing background noise, adjusting lighting and centering people on screen
  • Interpret technical issues and provide solutions from an existing knowledge base or message tech support for help
  • Distribute meeting notes, action items and follow-up materials

During a meeting, voice commands can replace clicks and keystrokes as your virtual assistant helps you:

  • Complete actions like “search,” “record,” “caption,” “transcribe” and “open a breakout room”  
  • Identify the speaker when transcribing and captioning
  • Predict and select the best technology or collaboration tool for the discussion
  • Measure participant engagement with insights for future meetings

Why Unified Communications + AI now?
In the post-pandemic workplace, physical location matters less. Human connection matters more. And you need to be close to what matters. Technology brings your people, customers and business closer together. Unified Communications simplifies and secures the connections. And AI brings them to life—with humanity and emotion.

What does Unified Communications have to do with creativity?
Download Unified Communications: IT’s role in creativity, thought sharing and belonging to find out.