IT execs laud impact of AI on call centers, sales support efforts

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Interest in artificial intelligence has exploded in recent months, replacing big data and cloud computing as the most-hyped technology trend. But just how are organizations really adopting AI, and what gains are those organizations looking for?

Information Management posed that question to members of the Society for Information Management (SIM) for their take on AI adoption.

SIM is the world’s premier organization for IT leaders, including CIOs, senior IT executives, prominent academicians, consultants and other IT managers. SIM is comprised of nearly 5,000 members who network through the collaboration of SIM’s 42 local chapters.

Here is how select SIM members view the role of AI.

AI and next generation call centers

“Artificial Intelligence technologies will play a huge role in next generation call centers,” notes Phillip Volltrauer, director of information technology at Affiliated Monitoring.

“Many of the inbound calling functions are already handled with automated systems, but customers prefer a human being over menu and VRT systems,” Volltrauer says. “With artificial intelligence, call centers may be able to bridge the gap and provide a more relevant customer experience.”

Better sales volume forecasting

“SI Group is having great success with artificial intelligence in the area of sales volume forecasting,” says Allen E. Look, executive director of global information technology at SI Group. “As any company with a complex and constrained supply chain, SI Group needs an accurate sales forecast to kick-start production planning and the process of purchasing materials, which can often be in short supply, from anywhere in the world, and with long and variable lead times.

“SI Group’s data sciences team has created an AI engine that compares different sets of data and self-selects one or more of those with the best fit. In so doing, it has begun to forecast sales volumes more accurately than those built from the bottom up, say by aggregating customers’ individual submittals and adjusting them manually,” Look says.

“Having an accurate forecast helps SI Group have the right inventories at the right time, and deliver on our brand promise of security of supply,” Look says.

Good for profitability, less so for processes

Asked if AI will likely have an impact on processes, customer service and profitability, Robert M. Thomas, principal at 180AConsulting, said “I doubt that, initially, artificial intelligence will have a statistically significant impact on ‘process.’ Most businesses don’t have well documented processes, or monitor them as they migrate to the cloud from a SLA perspective.”

As to customer service, that is “initially doubtful outside of the call center environment,” Thomas explains. “Call centers tend to be the best documented customer service ‘centers of excellence,’ but their value is derived from things that computers do not do well.”

Will AI boost profitability? “Yes, initially, but over the long haul, profitability could easily run afoul of process improvement and customer service,” Thomas says. “The greatest benefit’s I can see for AI will be in information security ‘defense.’ But, they will be the hardest for humans to embrace: letting the machines take independent action, to do battle against other machines. Ego will get in the way and inject entropy.”

AI is driving change in predictive analytics

“Fidelity Information Services has a strong believe in the power of artificial intelligence and has leveraged this across multiple domains to help respective businesses attain efficiencies across core and support functions,” says Patrick Wright, Fidelity Information Services and chapter president of SIM South Florida. Fidelity Information Services is a consistent FinTech #1 Company and recipient of multiple Most Admired Companies awards.

“FIS has leveraged AI in the area of workforce management, cash forecasting, mortgage, data mining and credit card disputes, and across multiple use cases of complex automation,” Wright explains. “AI has helped us acquire the knowledge and incorporate these learnings across a variety of processes. We believe AI will address more complex problems in near future and transform the way businesses are operated today, such as with our recent work with AI for AML.”

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