Don’t Get ‘BlockBustered’ When You Can Innovate With New #ConversationalAI
Remember Blockbuster Video? The iconic American video rental store where you could browse racks of movies and take one home? Faster and cheaper broadband, combined with entrepreneurial ingenuity, demolished Blockbuster’s business model and changed the world forever in terms of how we consume entertainment and media as a whole. In this blog, we explore the broadband parallels to “faster and cheaper” as they relate to voice communications and conversational AI.
Ray Kurzweil is a highly regarded inventor and futurist. His specialties include optical character recognition (OCR), text-to-speech, and speech recognition technology among many other fields. He’s a member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, has 21 honorary doctorate degrees, and honors from three US presidents.
Yeah, he’s pretty smart.
Kurzweil maintains an active website for “Tracking the acceleration of intelligence” and on this website are a series of essays. One of these essays is an excerpt from another futurist, George Gilder, who in the late 1990s and early 2000s quite accurately predicted that infinite bandwidth would change the world forever. The excerpt is titled the Twenty Laws of the Telecosm.
The Twenty Laws are fascinating, and we’ll do our best to stitch together why we think the early predictions about the transformative power of broadband are very similar to the early stages of what the industry currently calls “conversational AI”.
What is Conversational AI and Why Should You Care?
According to IBM, conversational artificial intelligence (AI) “refers to technologies, like chatbots or voice assistants, which users can talk to. They use large volumes of data, machine learning, and natural language processing to help imitate human interactions, recognizing speech and text inputs and translating their meanings across various languages.”
There is an emerging class of experts in this new area, including Opus Research, a company that tracks the progress of providers who are deploying, and customers that are using, conversational AI.
This area of technology is definitely heating up.
In a recent Wall Street Journal article titled “Your Call May Be Recorded (and Analyzed by a Bot)”, Ian Jacobs, Vice President and research director from Forrester Research in the area of Customer Experience, said:
“We can now access customer data that’s been previously kind of locked away in call recordings. That means we’re going to see a flood of new use cases for that data.”
Ian Jacobs, Vice President and Research Director, Forrester Research
In fact, Forrester Research predicts U.S. businesses will spend roughly $7 billion on contact center systems in 2021 to maintain a competitive posture in the market.
What we have covered so far is; 1) conversational AI involves voice being turned into data and then some magic happens that makes it useful to businesses, and 2) smart people think we’re on the cusp of an explosion of use cases which seems to be true based on enterprise spending in this area.
Now, let’s go back to George Gilder.
The Law of Telecosmic Price Elasticity. Will it be True for Conversational AI?
Don’t worry, this won’t become a blog about economics 101 and price elasticity, but we think this rule from Gilder’s Twenty Laws of the Telecosm is worth talking about here.
Rule #9 is The Law of Telecosmic Price Elasticity which says that for every one-unit decline in price, there will be a five unit rise in demand. Again, this was a prediction related to broadband, but it’s undeniable that services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Streaming, YouTube, SnapChat, Instagram, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Cisco WebEx, Google Hangouts…..(where should we stop?) have all emerged and expanded their audiences as broadband became faster and cheaper and consumable on more devices.
How does this translate to conversational AI?
Similar to broadband, we believe that as conversational AI gets better, faster, and cheaper, use cases and applications will explode.
And we’ve believed this long before we read about it in the Wall Street Journal.
We see intense curiosity among our customers for this emerging technology. Our version of conversational AI is called iovox Insights and here are three very practical use cases:
Sales. Automated Booking. Restaurants, particularly multi-location chains, often rely on a table management platform that serves as a web-interface to their inventory (available tables). We’ve all used one to book a reservation, but what about the telephone as a method of booking a table? The phone call continues to be an active method of reserving a spot at your favorite restaurant, and at iovox, we’ve designed our platform to interface with existing table management systems to allow automated booking by phone. The booking methods can be keypress through an interactive voice response (IVR), or the newer method of using AI to allow customers to book using voice interaction.
The benefits? Increased booking options and can take calls 24/7. During peak dining hours, you’re not tying up staff answering phones and they can do a better job caring for your diners.
Operations. Automated Call Center Sampling. Call Centers typically monitor agent quality through a series of sampling exercises, done mostly by trained quality experts who are on staff and have a “standard” by which they evaluate call interactions. Typically, calls are either listened to real-time, or recorded and then listened to as staff has time. The results of these quality checks help companies determine areas of training for agents, or in the worst cases, total removal of an agent for lack of adherence to the company’s standard. For any call center with a large call volume, these tasks are often performed manually, and to do so at scale is cost-prohibitive based on the quantity of staff hours that would be needed.
This is where iovox Insights shines. With the ability to record 100% of calls and use advanced keyword spotting, the ability to increase sample rates and flag calls that don’t meet the criteria can be done daily and almost instantly. In fact, with post-call trigger alerts, supervisors can be immediately alerted to calls, via SMS or email, that match certain criteria, which gives companies the ability to act quickly.
- Marketing. Lower CPC with Long Tail Keyword Identification – This use case is next level thinking, and we’ll share it here free of charge (but make sure to remember us when you’re shopping for your conversational AI solution!). If you’ve deployed iovox Insights in your inbound sales process, you can instruct the system to look for specific keywords that are spoken during recorded calls. You can also evaluate calls that resulted in a sale and analyze those conversations. Smart marketers will harvest these conversations to build long tail keywords that can then be used in online campaigns to drive down the CPC, (cost per click) because long tail keywords have lower CPC since they are not as popular or known. Just like that, a simple innovation gives your business a competitive edge.
Innovation Matters. iovox Can Help.
In a 2019 Forbes article titled “Innovate or Die: How a Lack of Innovation Can Cause Business Failure” the author urges business leaders to not ‘rest on their laurels’ but to constantly be looking for ways to improve their business models and innovate in the delivery of services to customers.
Innovation creates options for businesses.
This takes us back to Blockbuster, George Gilder, Opus Research, and the Wall Street Journal.
Technology improvements in conversational AI are occurring at remarkable speed and costs are coming down. With highly advanced and accessible tools like those available from Microsoft, you may find that conversational AI is good fit for your business. If Gilder’s Law #9 of Telecosmic Price Elasticity applies to conversational AI, for every one-unit decline in price there will be a 5 unit increase in demand.
The wave is building. Innovation is your friend and iovox can help you sort out which practical steps you can take to make sure your business doesn’t get ‘Blockbustered’.
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