40% of the time spent selling can be automated. Studies of the effects of new artificial intelligence (AI) technologies on companies, about half of the activities could be carried out by machines. However, not as soon as some thought. We will likely not approach this scenario before 2055. But companies must now begin to be part of a revolution comparable to that of the Internet, whose transformative capacity today no one doubts. The point is that at a time when business digitalization remains a challenge to be met, another formidable change is advancing. Jorge Zuñiga Blanco, an entrepreneur and technology expert from Costa Rica, explains how artificial intelligence (AI) can be used by businesses to increase their sales.
AI, in alliance with robotics and big data, is already modifying the most sophisticated production systems, but now these technologies take a step to reach commercial work. Machine learning, cloud computing, smart data, beacons, chatbots. Experts mark their speech with concepts that are difficult for the layman to understand, so we seek help in the didactics of a teacher to order the ideas. “We are going to see how many companies with a more traditional concept are going to lose market share in favor of others that begin to introduce artificial intelligence systems,” asserts Zuñiga.
AI is the technology that allows machines to learn from data. Some data present in any type of company, since they are generated in its activity, in its decisions as a company and in those of each of its human resources, and we can use that reflection of reality to do things that previously only people did. This way, if before machines helped to digitize processes, today we can teach those same machines to capitalize on that knowledge, going on to offer an asset that previously only belonged to people.
On the one hand, there is the evolution of people themselves. With more technological generations in the way they relate, communicate and collaborate, and for whom the telephone is no longer the main channel of communication, they prefer social networks or instant messaging. Technology is the only means to connect with them, so SMEs have to provide their employees with tools that allow them to work better. On the other hand, companies are also in a more competitive environment that forces them to be more efficient, reduce operating costs and increase quality and customer service. They are obliged to do more with less.
Technology oriented to the treatment of images and voice. For example, through telephone service, in many cases, the automated switchboard acts as the first filter to find out what the customer wants and forward the call to the right person. Less implanted, the utilities of image recognition are explored.
Natural language processing is a technology that evolves rapidly and is used in the chatbot that allows communicating with great fluidity, with the users being able to simultaneously have thousands of conversations. It is also the technology with which word processing systems advance, so that the system can interpret written communications from users. Through an intelligent reading of big data, these systems serve to answer the commercial environment to questions about consumer response.
Decision-making systems. They are the ones who tell you what to do. The example of the autonomous car is the most common (in the face of danger, choose between braking or accelerating). Still, they can make business decisions (for example, making a recommendation of how a company can sell a large shareholding package in small games of different markets without alarming the market).
When the priority is sales, it is convenient to know that in the area of customer service, this technology can become a great ally. States Zuñiga, “It is possible to group in a single source all the channels of contact with the client and, in addition, cross this data with other sources of the company, for example, availability or offers.”
One of the most striking and used solutions are chatbots. These conversation systems incorporate, to a greater or lesser extent, AI, and have as an objective to provide a service equal to that of an employee in any communication with the client. They can be used in channels such as web chat, social networks, instant messaging applications or business apps. Social networks such as Facebook have already announced the integration of this technology in their Messenger application, to allow a customer of a florist to send a bouquet of flowers or to send the daily summary of the news based on personal interests of the user.
However, it is customer service automation that is its most widespread application. A utility that has a place in those companies that detect that a significant percentage of their calls are attended to a small number of queries. For example, for a retail chain, the hours or the location of stores. “They are non-complex microquestions that can be automated,” explains Zuñiga, “understanding that it will work as the first level of service, not in substitution of attention for an employee.” In fact, the chatbot is trained to forward the call to an operator when it detects that it cannot satisfactorily fulfill its function.