It was 1984 when I earned my BS in computer science from Oregon State University. My sponsoring professor Dr. Morán pitched me on the idea of going to Carnegie Mellon to get a PhD in artificial intelligence (AI).
I opted not to go. I was too anxious to get into the work world and start my career. But I’ve certainly kept my eye on AI ever since.
Those who are new to AI think it all started when IBM’s Watson won Jeopardy or when Amazon launched the Echo or when Apple launched Siri. More likely, modern-day AI started back in 1956 at a conference at Dartmouth College.
Fast forward a lifetime and AI is all around us. Facebook, Google, Intel and Microsoft all have significant investments in AI. Every day, several times a day, articles are being published in Techcrunch, Wired, WSJ, the NY Times and dozens of other publications about new investments, new technologies and features. Just this past week, at Dreamforce, Einstein announced AI for marketing, sales, and all forms of CRM. Yesterday’s Law Firm Leaders Conference: out of six presenting tech companies four are trying to apply AI to legal research and litigation processes. nVidia’s blog: the story of how graphics processors are powering next-generation AI and machine learning. It goes on and on.
This happens in technology. Key themes hit a tipping point of interest, application, and investment, and suddenly there’s a race and everyone is talking about it. It’s happened to AI. And now many of today’s business leaders are wringing their hands trying to figure out what they should do about AI for their companies and customers.
Regardless of what you might think about where the AI “movement” goes, what is clear is this: The boundless availability of data from our online and offline lives and the nearly unlimited cloud storage have driven AI across an ease-of-implementation threshold. AI is here to stay, folks. It’s what companies and customers want. As long as it works…
What does this mean for Modria customers? Modria’s mission is to power fast and fair resolutions to disputes of all kinds. We’ve always held the view that at some point a form of “digital judge” will emerge to apply AI techniques to decide many forms of civil disputes. We haven’t changed our minds about this. Yet we also know our customers don’t have the luxury of managing a problem transaction incorrectly. They have to get it right the first time or they run the risk of losing their customers. Yet nor can they wait until AI is accurate enough to manage these problem transactions.
At this stage in Modria’s journey, as we drive the expansion of online dispute resolution we have focused on helping eCommerce companies resolve transaction problems at scale because these are the companies that are experiencing first hand an existential threat based on volume and complexity of issues their customers face. We are helping them create insight into their businesses, the likes of which they’ve been unable to glean. This data will feed into increasingly sophisticated deployment of policies and AI practices and processes that will not only resolve problems quickly but prevent them from happening in the first place!
Important to address the human aspect of AI and customer service. In my conversations with our eCommerce customers, I’m frequently asked whether human-powered customer service will get eaten by chat bots, learning machines, and AI. The answer is that it’s the wrong question to ask. The real question is How will AI and ML CHANGE today’s human-powered customer service. To that, I say that AI and ML will make outstanding customer service table stakes for every company. Humans will actually power the creation of more meaningful and long-lasting relationships between companies and customers because they won’t be having to spend time on problem issues.
And so, I’m really excited to have the chance to talk live with Bryan Kramer on #H2H this coming Monday about AI and customer service! The chat is supported by a live Twitter feed and I’d love to hear your questions and have you join the conversation.
To seed that discussion, here are a few of the things I hope we talk about:
- The emerging conversational interface with software
- The role of AI in delivery of an effortless service experience for your customers
- AI and resolving issues in regulated settings
- Using machine learning to optimize Return on Resolutions
Hope to talk with you, human-to-human, on Monday.
I do occasionally think about what might have happened had I taken Dr. Moran’s recommendation to pursue my masters in AI at Carnegie Mellon. Sure, it could have meant being a member of a team building some awesome technology before it was adopted and launched by the US military or perhaps a business like IBM. That would have been pretty awesome. But I know myself too well. There’s little I enjoy more than running a business with great people, working with great customers and solving their problems.