Year-over-year we are seeing new technologies immersed in business communication and front lining huge advancements in operations, yet there are a number of these trends that are far from reaching their full potential.
The ways businesses communicate, both internally and externally with customers, are ever-changing. With the advancements made in recent years, it can make it very difficult to predict what the future has in store. Communications company TollFreeForwarding carried out research and enlisted the help of experts to shine a light on the subject.
We have seen businesses become increasingly reliant on artificial intelligence as its capabilities continue to develop. This technology uses machine learning on the job like a human would. This trend is showing no sign of letting up.
The influence AI is predicted to have in the coming years is staggering. A recent study suggests that some form of automation will replace 50% of the US workforce in the future. Although this is bad news for those who might be replaced by AI, from a business perspective, AI has the potential to perform tasks that simply could not be done by a human as quickly or efficiently. Here are some of the ways AI is already being used within business and where we could see further progression as technology becomes more advanced.
Chatbots are an automated service, used in business to assist in customer service. They respond through messenger apps to customer queries and complaints, as well as guiding customers through a business’s website. Despite research in 2017 revealing that talking to a real person is the most valued aspect of customer service, chatbots can fulfill tasks beyond human capabilities.
The reason businesses are choosing to use chatbots rather than make further investments in customer service is because the chatbot can respond to thousands of queries almost instantaneously. A working example of chatbots being used successfully in a business environment would be KLM Royal Dutch Airline’s Bluebot. Bluebot is a chatbot that, according to a report, has recorded over 1.7 million messages sent from 500,000 passengers. To have a customer service team capable of dealing with this volume of messages would be far more costly.
Ketan Kapoor, CEO, and Founder of Mettl, said: “The humble chatbot will turn out to be a competitive advantage in turning time in favor of businesses. You will be able to connect to customers in a relatively shorter time reducing the chances of customer’s indecisions, loss of interest, or being captured by competitors.”
Chatbots use machine learning to create increasingly intelligent answers with every customer engagement. As they learn and demonstrate more and more human characteristics, the doubt and mistrust surrounding chatbots could become a thing of the past. Therefore, we cannot underestimate the influence they may have on business communication in the future.
Ketan Kapoor added: “Mimicking human communication elements, the initial interactions done by chatbots will be smoother, seamless, and precise.”
The traditional personal assistant role within business could be one of the jobs soon to be replaced by automation. After the Google “Duplex” was presented last year, showcasing the ability to call and book a hair appointment without the caller on the other end having any idea it was an AI, we could soon see this type of AI handling internal affairs within business.
Gabriel Shaoolian, Founder and Executive of DesignRush, supports this trend: “Looking past these consumer pathways, AI will radically transform how internal teams communicate and function. You can expect to see AI integrate itself into everyday operations, creating meetings, transcribing discussions and more.”
New technology could be void from human error – for example, if you ask AI to book a meeting, there is no chance that this will be forgotten. From Alexa to the “Duplex”, we’ve seen this type of AI advance over the last few years. Whatever comes next, this is a trend that will have far more to offer businesses in the future.
Alan Lafrance, Marketing Strategy Manager at Lawnstarter stated, “Over time the tools will learn and get better. They will eventually reach a point where most internal and external communications are fully automated.”
We have already seen AI immerse itself within businesses marketing strategies and hyper-personalization is a perfect example of why it is so popular in external communications. The concept of hyper-personalization is devising marketing strategies such as email campaigns to target each customer individually.
This is done through AI collecting data such as historical information, recent purchases and engagement with previous messages, all to cater personalized messages to each individual user with the aim of getting the best possible response.
Much like other services, AI could offer business communication hyper-personalization is at the juxtaposition of machine learning and sentiment analysis.
Sophie Miles, co-founder of elMejorTrato said, “The main effect of the application of Artificial Intelligence is speeding the responses. Applied to email marketing, Artificial Intelligence works on opening emails, analyzing clicks and conversions, etc.”
We have all experienced hyper-personalization at some point, for example when you see ads related to a website you’ve previously visited. Having this available to businesses makes their campaigns far more efficient, reducing the amount of wasted budget on ads hitting the wrong people.
Sophie Miles supported and said, “The challenge will be focused on designing an Artificial Intelligence system capable of responding, interacting and making decisions in a human way. Fortunately, you have companies working on that.”
Although artificial intelligence is likely to play an important role across different aspects of business communication, it’s likely Blockchain could have just as big of an impact. Blockchain is still in its junior years and it could take some time before it’s regularly used. Coupled with the rise of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Blockchain is the idea of all data of transactions between businesses, and businesses and their customers, being stored in one database. This allows digital information to be distributed, but not copied. This means each piece of data only has one owner.
William Mougayar, author of The Business Blockchain offers a good explanation for the workings of Blockchain in simplifying business transactions.
“Imagine two entities (e.g. banks) need to update their own user account balances when there is a request to transfer money from one customer to another. They need to spend a tremendous amount of money, time and effort for coordination, synchronization, messaging and checking to ensure each transaction happens exactly as it should.”
“With blockchain, a single ledger of transaction entries that both parties have access to can simplify the coordination and validation efforts because there is always a single version of records, not two disparate databases”.
While at its core, Blockchain will keep a record of transactions and currencies, the hope for the future is that the technology will be capable of much more. Braden Perry, a Blockchain Attorney at a financial firm, talks of the potential it has within business communication.
“Blockchain in industry, like Blockchain technology itself, is in its infancy, but on the peak of rapid expansion. Businesses that see the potential and are proactive in its adoption will likely be the frontrunners in innovation and ahead of the curve when the benefits are fully realized.”
Although it’s not as widely recognized as the likes of like AI and augmented reality within business comms, it’s likely it won’t be too long until Blockchain is having a similar influence.
Augmented reality is another trend that is only in the early years of its development. Technology that allows us to immerse ourselves somewhere else, combining real-time 3D vision, sounds, haptics, locations data, and even other human senses has the capabilities to completely change the way we communicate. Altering our own virtual environment is being trialed in business communication, but it’s predicted it could become far more prominent in the coming years.
Rachel Henderson, Vice President of Warschawski believes virtual reality to be a critical part of future business communication, but it could be some way off being perfect. She said, “Virtual and augmented reality is the most immersive communications technology to come along since the movies, but unless there is a 360-communications strategy behind it, brands are missing a huge opportunity for success.”
There is evidence of virtual and augmented reality being used within business today. Heathrow airport uses it to allow passengers to look around the airport from their phone, rather than having to walk aimlessly trying to find their terminal or a store in duty-free.
Many experts believe advancements in augmented reality will be groundbreaking for non-profit organizations, as the technology can be used to send powerful messages through advertisement.
Rachel Henderson supports this. She says, “In the non-profit industry, there is a huge opportunity with VR/AR marketing because it has the power to persuade – to create strong emotional connections that change attitudes, actions and policies that shape our world. VR/AR can be an incredible awareness, fundraising or advocacy tool”.
In order to edge out rivals, businesses need to harness the latest technologies to improve their customer interactions. The emergence of the likes of AI, Blockchain, and Augmented Reality says a lot about the changing shape of business communication and the capabilities that will one day be available to companies.