Can Artificial Intelligence (AI) play a part in improving your business telecoms? Will it impact landline, VoIP, Mobile or fibre/copper broadband services? Mike Ianiri, of Equinox looks at where developments in AI can benefit business telecoms.
With the likes of Gort, Robby the Robot, HAL 9000, Skynet, Agent Smith and JARVIS (to name just a few) in the movies, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been with us a for a long time.
In the last few years, AI has taken a more prominent role in real life with the increasing use of Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. And in the coming years, AI’s role in telecommunications is set to grow, giving businesses the chance to benefit from some of the advantages Artificial Intelligence will bring.
First, a definition: Artificial intelligence is where machines, especially computer systems, simulate human intelligence. This includes the acquisition of information and rules for using that information (learning), the use of rules to reach approximate or definite conclusions (reasoning) and self-correction.
Therefore, if AI is about thinking like humans, there are a variety of ways for AI to help your business, particularly within communication:
An End to Call-Routing
Talking to machines can be infuriating. How many times have you had to sit through press 1 for this, press 2 for that options and experienced warm and fuzzy feelings?
But Alexa and Siri have proven that interacting with machines doesn’t have to turn the air blue. According to Apple, more than half a billion people use Siri, and Amazon’s various incarnations of its Echo accounted for 67% of smart speaker sales in 2018. Clearly, we’re fine chatting with smart devices if it’s done properly. Surely it can’t be long until AI is used to route your calls?
Imagine a Virtual Assistant on the end of every call, with customers simply telling an AI what they’re looking for, and the AI routing calls accordingly, removing hackle-raising requirements to navigate multi-option menus designed for a desk phone world, not the mobile era.
Hot Lead Identification
Businesses receive large amounts of electronic communication. It’s more than just emails, there are numerous social media platforms to deal with, and in the absence of an overt “I want to buy something”, it can be tricky to spot potential buying signals.
That electronic noise could be sifted through by AI algorithms, which would identify buying words and/or tones and then route relevant information into the appropriate Sales teams.
If an AI can identify hot leads, it can also lend a hand after those leads have been converted to actual customers. Advanced algorithms could easily spot billing anomalies, thereby reducing customer complaints and improving customer satisfaction levels.
It would make life easier for businesses if we lived in a one-size-fits-all world. But we’ve moved on from the days of any colour as long as it’s black – customers want the right contract for them, not their neighbour.
Telecoms companies often promise that customers will always be on the best tariff, but with there being many, many different tariffs on offer, how can a B2B account manager be absolutely sure they’ve identified the ideal offering? With millions of B2C customers, can a provider be sure of delivering on their promises?
The ability of an AI to sort data and to make decisions based on that data (and quickly) can help. When both B2B and B2C customers believe a telecoms company is delivering on a promise, satisfaction levels increase and churn decreases.
Prioritising Electronic Communication
With the huge amount of electronic communication businesses have to deal with, identifying priorities isn’t always easy.
Business coaches or productivity experts often recommend developing a priority matrix. Good advice. But the challenge for many businesses is finding time to go through everything. It can take a significant bite out of your day, impacting negatively on your state of mind.
AI can assist you with this. There are products, such as Celaton, that will process and prioritise your content. Although you will still need to check the majority of your electronic information, having it in order of priority will be a real aid.
Careful Data Management
It’s very important to think very carefully about what you can and cannot do with data within any AI planning.
GDPR is an obvious issue. When you collect data, particularly consumer data, you must be very specific about what that data will be used for. But your industry sector may be covered by other legislation, so take the time to check if there any rules regulating the type of data you are processing using AI. You don’t want time, effort and money to be wasted on an AI project you can’t use.
These are just a few examples of how AI is likely to impact telecoms, for both industry and end users. Some people will be suspicious of AI, worrying that it will be intrusive or perhaps a threat to jobs. However, we see AI as a support tool, making our lives easier.
Technology will continue to move forward, and as a business owner you can choose to resist the inevitable, but why would you want to miss out on ordering a beverage Picard style: Tea. Earl Grey. Hot (try that on Alexa). And if things were to go pear-shaped, there’s always Klaatu barada nikto.
About the author
This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Mike Ianiri, Director of independent telecoms brokerage Equinox. Mike works with companies, charities and other organisations to help them choose the right telecoms packages for their needs and thereby reduce their costs. He is particularly knowledgeable on the integration of IT and telecoms in business.
More from ByteStart
ByteStart is packed with help and tips on all aspects of running your business. Check out some of our most popular guides;
- 5 Top Small Business Tools That Will Save You Time, Hassle & Money
- 6 Ways to Maintain IT Security for Your New Business
- How Technology Can Help Make the Leap from Start-Up to Scale-Up
- 13 Questions you must ask to get the best deal on business telecoms, and why you should never buy just on price
- What are the alternatives if your broadband doesn’t meet your business needs?
- Working from anywhere: live anywhere in the world, do business in the UK
Funding Your Business
- How to Find the Right Business Loan
- Preparing to Raise Finance for Your Business – 6 Steps to Success
- A Guide to Alternative Business Funding – The New Routes to Finance