Thursday, February 22, 2018

No More AI Winters: Really !!

History teaches us that there were two large AI Winters in the past. One starting in the mid 1970s and another in the late 1980's There were very clear reasons for the last two AI Winters, but most of the technical and cost issues are gone. The wild card is how humans accept AI this time around. My bet is against another brutal winter. This does not mean there won't be cold snaps, but a 15-20 year freeze out doesn't seem likely now.




The First AI Winter:

It was caused by a couple of major factors. The first and foremost was the lack of computer power. The examples that were put forward were "toy" solutions that really did not appeal to the investors at all. This set off a period of infighting about Natural Language Processing (NLP) in the AI community which scared off the investors for a long time.

The Second AI Winter:

It was caused by the fact that the AI portion of an application had to run on a detached expensive LISP machine that really wasn't that much more powerful that newer computers. To compound the situation, the AI systems were brittle and expensive to create and maintain. The isolation and expense was too much for users and investor alike kicking off an even longer AI winter.

What's Different Now?

  • AI now has a great NLP base to leverage and we will soon be seeing NLP services for front ending legacy transactions and systems.
  • AI is data focused now; not as rule and algorithm focused. This means as the data changes, the AI can change right long with the data. This reduces costs of maintenance. 
  • Computing capability is strong enough and getting stronger to take on even more ambitious uses. We see much parallelism coming on soon in Quantum Computing that is necessary for more ambitious uses of AI.
  • AI is working hard to assist people instead of displacing them except for dangerous and low level boring work. 
  • AI can consume large amounts of data from vastly different location and give advice to people 

Net: Net:

There is no sure thing with this generation of AI, but if we all make AI easy and helpful as it takes on more challenging tasks, I think we can avoid another AI winter. The economic and computing power issues seem to be under control. It is now our job to make AI interface well with people to make them feel secure. All that stuff about AI taking the world over and turning on people sounds good for a fiction book. Do no harm otherwise ethics and law will likely have to change.





Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Customer Service in a Closing Vice

Never before is there more pressure on customer service. All of this while organizations have to compete for well informed customers. The platitude creators just say all it takes is a better attitude by the front line. Workers should be aimed at "Customer Loyalty " to deliver "A Customer for Life". While I believe in these sayings and they are good goals, the reality is that most of the front line workers have their hands tied and are being squeezed in a  ever  closing vice. There are three reasons that there is little relief in just pursuing platitudes and tightening measures/goals. 


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The Pressure from Increased Customer Demands:

Customers expect great service and they do not want to deal with functional specialties of your organization. They have specific goals that may run counter to an organizations goals to close a call in a limited time frame. The expectation is that you know them, their goals and their history. In fact they want you to know their mood and respond accordingly. They want convenience as they have little time themselves. They want a pleasing experience as the pressure cooker they live in is difficult, They want you to understand the multiple outcomes they are expecting or they will pick up a go elsewhere. Loyalty is a lost concept theses days.

The Pressure from Not Understanding the Real Customer Journey:

The customers journey is usually larger or different than what your organization and systems are built to serve. Just look at what has happened in the mortgage and account opening journeys for proof of the effect of a better journey. While applying for a mortgage can be easier and more effective, the real journey is finding a new home. The end to end journey here is far more inclusive than getting a mortgage or opening accounts.  If an organization really works on understanding the real journey and the customers goals, this adds great credibility to that organization and contributes to loyalty.

The Pressure from Old and Patched Systems:

Systems have come up from a functional perspective and usually have weak interfaces for service workers of customers. While newly patched interfaces can help, systems that are built around the customers journey and normal variations would go far in helping customers and organizations service representatives. Better systems take some of the pressure and pain away from both. Digital transformation will give organizations a new opportunity to do just that. Make sure all of your constituents  (customers, employees, partners, vendors and stake holders) are well represented in the redesign.

Bottom Line: 

Customer loyalty will come from understanding the real customer journey the customer is on and the goals they have. This means that your organization is usually only one or two steps in their overall journey and set of goals  Expanding an organizations contribution to the overall journey will likely be effective along with fixing the arcane systems that support customers and customer service representatives. Organizations need to fix their system issues and increase their journey coverage to match customers goals and desires.


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Predictions for Digital Business Platforms 2018

As the race to digital continues, the benefits to organizations will continue to accumulate. Businesses have the incentive and the opportunity with a new tax structure encouraging organizations to invest in digital efforts that have proven to deliver. Automation will accelerate as a theme in 2018 and will carry itself out in a number of ways—with the support of the digital business platform. Improving the customer experience will also be a major area of improvement. Both of these themes will need the application of AI to extend the continuous return on investment. This research note reviews five key Digital Business Platforms predictions for 2018 and beyond.



Click Here for Getting Started with a Digital Business Platform
Click here for a 2017 Vendor Rating for Digital Business Platforms  
Click here for the 2018 Digital Business Platform Notes




Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Can Designer AI Be Far Away?

We know that AI will be assisting us at work in a more influential way over time and will help us reach organizational goals. What do you think of AI influencing your every day life beyond super charging searches, playing your favorite music and controlling individual devices.  AI will help us look better, act better and participate better in social interactions. As we are successful at work with AI, we will trust it more in our personal lives.



AI will Help Us Look Better:

Well most of us won't leverage robotic plastic surgery or genetic supercharging for better looks, we might ask AI to help us with our looks. AI could know our tastes, looks and body types and suggest a target outfit and even buy the components for us. I think most of us still will want to shop for price and quality. Today you can try on make up with an AI assisted mirror. Imagine a full length mirror displaying your final outfit on you before a Saturday Night outing? I always need help at Halloween, so that will be my test run :)

AI will Help Us Hobby Better:

Have you ever had the aspiration to dive into a hobby, but were timid? Have you ever been knee deep in a hobby and run into a perplexing situation. Wouldn't an AI assist come in handy for those situations. My gear head friends who still tinker with cars are always running into situations that require help. In fact racers are always collecting data and leveraging technology to analyze performance. In my case I like to try new forms of art expression and spend hours looking at videos or going to classes. Imagine AI searching for an answer for your situation and suggesting approaches.

AI will Help US Socialize Better:

Have you ever felt uncomfortable in a social situation?  Wouldn't you like to contribute to a conversation in a meaningful and polite way? Wouldn't you like to have the right thing to say in the right situation without embarrassing yourself or others? Even if we are inviting guests over for a meal, wouldn't some suggestions come in handy? I think we all find ourselves in want of assistance in social situations. If you desire to interact with others, assistance could really be helpful for most of us. This might come in form of a voice in a ear piece or a image in our glasses / eye piece.

Net; Net: 

While it might seem intrusive or silly to some of us, others of us will embrace designer AI. For rugged individuals that don't want help, designer AI is probably not your thing. However, for those of us that are always looking to get better or look better, designer AI will be appealing. For me designer AI would help with confidence in new situations that I tend to want to put myself in from time to time. How about you?