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Lessons learned and how AI will transform our world in 2018

By Marcus Lambert

It is often said that those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Ironically, as we look towards 2018 with great trepidation, it seems that once again many are becoming increasingly concerned that machines will replace their jobs. Meanwhile the gap between rich and poor will continue to widen.

Our ancestors faced the same challenges when the first Industrial Revolution saw machines pushing up productivity rather than supporting people. But, it’s the education of workers and ensuring that everyone comes along for the ride that will be the secret to success during this transformational period.

Back in 1997 a ‘supercomputer’ called Deep Blue, famously beat Garry Kasparov in a game of chess. People that had consumed too many science fiction books and movies convinced themselves that the rise of the machines would render humans obsolete.

However, Kasparov had an alternative view that AI technology will actually free us from “menial” cognition. His envisioned a new world where people had the time to pursue what makes them happy and unleash the curiosity and creativity of the human condition.

Factual reporting and predictions from the media based on fears raised in fictional content make for little to no sense whatsoever. Maybe there is an inconvenient truth that machines actually enable humans to follow their instinct on a path of creativity and innovation rather than stifle it.

Since that moment, IBM Watson brushed aside all contestants of Jeopardy and Google’s AI once again defeated Korean grandmaster Lee Sedol at Go. Artificial Intelligence is no longer just a buzzword, and we are only just beginning to understand the value that it can bring to businesses. But what trends are waiting for us in 2018? And how are they reshaping our world?

A one-size-fits-all approach to education is no longer going to cut it in a dynamic digital world where we celebrate the unique strengths of students. The likes of Amazon, Facebook, and Nexflix ensure that we surround ourselves with personalised experiences and these expectations are naturally taken into the classroom.

The rise of machine learning and AI now offer algorithms develop a complete understanding of both a pupil’s strengths and weaknesses to enable teachers to provide unique personalised learning that learns with them.

Results are improving by homing in on the exact the needs of students and teaching them as unique individuals. The exciting aspect of embracing this technology is what the next generation will able to achieve by using advanced methods that enable them to be the best that they can be.

The reality facing the majority of financial institutions is that they are unlikely to meet any of their customers face to face in 2018. Online banking has evolved into a much bigger beast where customers can manage their account via their smartphone, speak to chatbots or even get answers directly from Amazon Echo.

The world of finance is ripe for disruption. Legacy systems or thinking will be the biggest challenge for the industry to overcome. However, AI is already improving security by being able to spot fraudulent or suspicious activity, and machine learning algorithms can even predict when future attacks are likely to occur.

Time-consuming and cumbersome processes are slowly being automated to bring much-needed efficiencies into the industry. But AI is not about to replace humans anytime soon. Sure, traditional customer-facing roles will disappear but there will be new skills and positions required to help the industry ease through the digital transformation.

Employees should be looking at how they can be a part of the industries plans to extend its digital coverage. The challenge is to offer the same personalised experience by delivering the right message on the right device at the right time. These changes will require more people rather than less, but a new skillset and mindset will also be required.

Rise of the Customer Experience
2017 will be remembered as the year that taught businesses what they shouldn’t do. Whether it was, the overpromising and under delivering by the organisers of the disastrous Fyre Festival or the damaging effects of the Equifax hack, something needs to change.

The message from 2017 is clear; people come first, rather than profits. Those that choose to ignore these lessons could find themselves in for a rocky ride in 2018. Spotify will tell you when your favourite band is playing in your town, Netflix knows what you want to watch, and Starbucks lets you order a coffee through Facebook Messenger.

The customer expectation level has received a 21st-century upgrade and businesses that are unable to meet the requirements of instant gratification will no longer be deemed relevant in the eyes of impatient consumers.

Although AI is still in its infancy, it hasn’t stopped some companies from exaggerating its current capabilities. Those that rush into a world of chatbots and self-service with their sights set on phasing out email and call centres will be missing the point. As a result, many could see a dramatic drop in customer satisfaction levels.

Transparent call deflection solutions will give the impression that a company is hiding behind technology rather than enhancing the customer experience. The objective of any new shiny tech-based solution should involve improving human-to-human contact in an increasingly digital world.

The reasons that technology will never entirely replace humans is because we are incredibly complex and unique individuals. Our location, how much time we have, the urgency of the communication and device we are using will all determine what tool we turn to in our hour of need.

2018 will be the year that businesses will be expected to have learned the lessons of 2017 and wow their customers rather than frustrate them. Once again, we can expect further advances in AI technology, but it’s how businesses use it that will determine how tech-savvy consumers perceive them.

How will your company be using artificial intelligence and machine learning in 2018? And what lessons have you learned this year?

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