AI stands for Artificial Intelligence, and it’s a slightly tricky topic. What we do know is that AI and business communication have developed a close relationship. And it seems built to last.
What is AI anyway?
But in the public consciousness AI manages to be at once ubiquitous and mysterious. Despite appearing in news stories and general conversation on a daily basis, there remains confusion about what AI actually is.
There are certainly helpful definitions of AI. Some experts even divide it into smaller categories. This has been done according to the technology’s scope, for example, with some classifying AI as either Artificial Narrow Intelligence, Artificial General Intelligence, or Artificial Super Intelligence.
The clue is kind of in the name. It’s all about intelligence that isn’t organic. A very broad definition of AI is technology surrounding machine learning. It refers to a non-living entity’s capacity to think and learn. Think ‘smart’ technology.
What is AI up to outside business communication?
Although some consider AI futuristic – or even dystopian – many of us are using it more than we realise. And its different applications can contribute to its contentious perception. We regularly see stories of the wonders it can do in our daily lives, far beyond our professional lives and the relationship between AI and business communication. In news that may be welcome to many after this bank holiday, AI is supposed to hugely reduce traffic on public holidays. On the flip side, there are suggestions it can exacerbate inequalities and discrimination.
Despite the complex and varied ethical debates surrounding AI, it’s definitely found a place in daily life. From social media algorithms and targeted marketing to Siri and Alexa, AI is already shaping much of what you see and do. And, of course, there’s the famous example of driverless cars.
Are companies using AI – for business communication or otherwise?
So is it just expansive (and at times morally dubious) enterprises and vehicular engineers who are implementing AI? Or will AI and business communication be impacting your workplace?
The stats say yes. A recent report by Gartner finds enterprise use of AI grew a whopping 270% over the past four years. The result? At least 37% of businesses are using AI. And Chris Howard, Gartner’s research VP, warns that if yours isn’t in that 37%, you should start thinking about how to make use of AI or risk getting outstripped by the competition. One of the best areas to start your investigation is AI and business communication.
AI and business communication
Communication is a pivotal part of business. But often, the simplest tools are the best. Plus, if you’re a newer company, you might be focusing on affordable communication tools. And with all the benefits of conference calls, do we need to complicate matters? After all, a simple call from a landline or mobile can replace your meetings, without the need for special technology or a conference call reservation. What is AI offering business communication?
Existing implementations and their popularity shed some light. The most common use of AI in business communication is natural language processing. 62% of companies surveyed by Gartner use it. Another huge area is machine learning – used by 58%. Computer vision comes in at 57%. Close behind, adopted by half of the companies, is deep learning.
What could all this mean, in practical terms, for you? Read on to find some of the benefits you stand to gain from AI and business communication.
Automate simple interactions
You’ve doubtless already seen chatbots. This technology leverages natural language processing to allow customers to ‘chat’ online with AI bots. The bots can answer questions and perform requested actions.
IVR (Interactive Voice Response) is also quite commonplace. That’s where when you place a call and are given a menu of options, you can choose your route verbally rather than using a dial-pad. This makes use of voice recognition, an AI technology.
Developments in AI and business communication are looking to expand these functions even further. Rather than just through written word or simple, off-the-menu selections, virtual agents will hold verbal conversations with callers. Customers call the number and can ask and answer questions with a robot which should understand everything they say and respond accordingly. This reduces call agents’ workload and companies’ costs, as calls that are easily resolved won’t require human attention. The AI will only escalate the call to human agents for complex tasks. It also facilitates 24/7 customer support, without outsourcing agents from different time zones or imposing unsociable hours.
AI can help with decisions and planning
Because AI deals in big data, it’s great at spotting trends and drawing conclusions. Therefore, it can be really handy in lots of decision-making. Even simple things like how long to let the phone ring before ending a call can be optimised by AI. It can help with bigger things, too. For example, think of mapping escalation paths for customer inquiries. At the moment, companies generally rely on IT staff knowledge and ability to find patterns.
By integrating AI into business communication, you can ease their pressure and workload, and save on time and resources. What’s more, given the importance of good customer service, being sure you’re providing the most efficient and logical experience is crucial.
AI can use big data to make more day-to-day and internal decisions, too. For example, it could use weather and location data to suggest you hold a teleconference instead of your meeting in a few days. That way, you and your attendees avoid commuting in the heat or in freezing conditions.
Speed up internal business communication with AI
Another way AI can streamline your company is by saving time on day-to-day tasks. Think about something as mundane (and irritating) as spam email. According to the Radicati Research Group, this inconvenience costs businesses $20.5 billion every year. The figure could even rise to a huge $257 billion. And that’s all in lost productivity and technical expenses. That means AI can save us a lot of money. Systems like Gmail use it to filter inbound emails before they hit your inbox, meaning employees don’t have to scroll through it.
And it’s not just shielding us from unwanted messages. We can use AI in business communication to speed up replies to emails we do want to see. Given responding to emails reportedly eats up on average 2.5 hours for employees every day, this could have a huge impact. Features like smart replies reduce this massively. Again, they combine big data and personalised analyses with AI techniques like Natural Language Processing to predict what response users might want to send to an email. This saves people time manually crafting every message, allowing them to get on with other tasks.
Give more powerful presentations
We know the importance of understanding non-verbal communication in business. So can AI really help us understand people’s reactions to our presentations? Does that not require a degree of intuition and understanding that machine learning can’t match? Whatever your ethical or psychological opinions may be, AI can certainly capture every shift, nudge and involuntary movement that every audience member makes during a presentation. That’s something no human presenter can do.
Thanks to this, its ability to process and analyse big data, and methods like NLP, you can enhance business communication with AI. It can show you the success rate of presentations, and even suggest beforehand what interaction style is going to be most effective for engaging a particular audience. After the fact, AI can provide a diagnostic evaluation, allowing you to hone your strengths and work on areas of weakness. It can even measure how audience members reacted to the length, content and style. With all that information, you can tailor future presentations to make sure your business communication is as effective as possible.
Make meetings’ admin simple with AI
Giving your presentation in person gives AI the opportunity to analyse the audience’s body language. But presenting on the phone – or holding teleconferences instead of meetings – can also integrate AI into business communication. And with great new features from WHYPAY?, giving a presentation over the phone is easy and effective. Just look at all the handy moderator features! Even if you’re not presenting, conference calls have loads of uses, and AI can enhance them all.
Using things like NLP, AI can save you time and effort by providing real-time transcription of your calls. The technology even identifies different speakers, so it will be clear who said what.
As if ready-made meeting minutes weren’t helpful enough, AI also powers features like ‘action items’. As the virtual meeting takes place, AI recognises and highlights important tasks and events. By the end of the call, you’ll have a detailed to-do list, complete with deadlines and key dates, to go with your minutes. All without lifting a finger!
Infinite possibilities with AI and business communication
Clearly, the relationship between AI and business communication is deep and lasting. There are so many avenues to explore and applications to make use of. And that’s without diving into realms like Virtual Reality, which has already exemplified how much charitable causes stand to gain from adopting technology, and how much telecommuting can replicate in-person meetings.
Far from blocking human connection, AI is boosting business communication across the board. It’s cutting down on mundane tasks and helping us understand each other’s feelings, allowing clearer, more concise and effective communication. And you might not know it, but you’re almost definitely using it already. Get ready to play with AI much more as you develop business communication strategies.