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Consumer Intelligence Series Bot.Me: A revolutionary partnership

How AI is pushing man and machine closer together

With a market projected to reach $70 billion by 2020, artificial intelligence is poised to have a transformative effect on consumer, enterprise, and government markets around the world. While there are certainly obstacles to overcome, consumers believe that AI has the potential to assist in medical breakthroughs, democratize costly services, elevate poor customer service, and even free up an overburdened workforce.

Some tech optimists believe AI could create a world where human abilities are amplified as machines help mankind process, analyze, and evaluate the abundance of data that creates today’s world, allowing humans to spend more time engaged in high-level thinking, creativity, and decision-making.

Based on our research into consumers, experts, and business execs, here's how we think AI will amplify our world:

Amplifying society:
Humans 2.0

Despite the way the film industry and news media portray AI, most consumers see the potential for good. 63% agree AI will help solve complex problems that plague our society and 59% believe it will help people live more fulfilling lives. On the other hand, only 46% believe AI will harm people by taking away jobs and 23% believe it will have serious, negative implications.

63%
of consumers believe AI will help solve complex problems that plague modern societies

They also see AI simplifying their daily lives in the immediate future.

"In the next five years, I can see AI replacing humans as a..."

AI for all

AI has the potential to become a great equalizer. More than half of consumers believe AI will provide educational help to disadvantaged schoolchildren. Over 40% also believe AI will expand access to financial, medical, legal, and transportation services to those with lower incomes.

Consumers also see the value in sharing their personal information for the greater good: 62% would share their data to help relieve traffic in their cities and 57% would do so to further medical breakthroughs.

But that hunger for access doesn’t necessarily translate to their personal lives:

Amplifying service:
Cyborg concierge

Every year, $62 billion is lost through poor customer service—a loss that continues to increase with every passing year. AI can help plug that leak by going above and beyond what humans are able to do. It could shift today’s run-of-the-mill standard to a personalized, digital concierge run by man but with the heavy lifting done by machine.

Digital assistants have already become common and acceptable shoulders to lean on in daily life. Our expert panel discussed this perception shift as the "AI effect," a term coined by computer scientist Patrick Henry Winston. As AI becomes more successful, it ceases to be called "AI" and is referred to by a different name, like voice recognition, speech synthesis and now machine learning. Essentially, as AI becomes more important, it becomes less conspicuous. According to Kaza Razat, one of our panel experts and an AI developer, “In 10 years, if you’re not using some sort of AI-enhanced assistant, it will be like not being on the Internet today.”

The AI effect:
As AI becomes more important, it becomes less conspicuous.

Today, consumers say the top benefits of digital assistants are:

  • 1. Saves time
  • 2. Helps me get things done
  • 3. Reminds me of calendar events
  • 4. Sends proactive alerts
  • 5. Gives me more time to focus on thinking and creating

Relationship status: It’s complicated

Consumers are undecided about how they view their digital assistants' personalities:

Roughly the same number of people think their digital assistants are…

Smart
19%
Friendly
17%

As those who see them as…

Robotic
20%
Limited
16%
vs.

Today, most consider them to be “advisers,” and many see them as “acqaintances.” However, consumers do admit they see that distance narrowing over time, describing likely future digital assistants as being “teachers” and “friends.”

Consumers want it all

As the line between humans and bots becomes more blurred so too do consumer preferences for customer service. 35% said their biggest concern with AI customer service was a loss of human touch. They’re looking for the best of both worlds. In fact, 43% of millennials and 28% of business execs, identified as managers or influencers in their fields, would pay a premium for a hybrid service run by AI that offers direct access to humans, versus a human-only service.


The potential for quicker and more efficient transactions interests consumers the most:

  • 60%
    agree that AI can reduce the time it takes to get answers while still being highly tailored to their preferences.
  • 38%
    agree that AI can offer a “superior one-to-one personalized experience.”
    More info
    Among business execs, this number rises to 63%

Bot or not?

27%

of consumers weren’t sure if their last customer service interaction was with a human or a chatbot.

Amplifying management: The augmented c-suite

In the business world, disruption has become the norm. Global markets are volatile or uncertain at best, talent turnover is a force to be reckoned with, and workweeks can be expected to regularly exceed 70 hours. Management needs more efficiency and innovations to keep up. AI has the potential to optimize proccesses across organizations. And businesses are betting big: 54% of business and IT execs in our Digital IQ survey tell us their companies are making substantial investments today; in three years, that number jumps to 63%.

72%
of business execs believe AI will be the business advantage of the future.

Business execs big on big data

Business execs are most optimistic about AI’s potential to increase efficiencies with automated communications and alerts to enable more proactive approaches (70%) and to improve big data analytics (59%). They imagine the following AI-powered solutions having the largest impact on their businesses:

Less repetitive tasks = more big thinking

In their own roles, business execs see huge potential for AI to alleviate repetitive tasks such as:

82% Paperwork
79% Scheduling
78% Timesheets
69% Accounting
65% Personal expenses
60% HR functions, like benefits
60% Email management
49% Proposal writing
37% HR management
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HR management is still an area of hesitation for business execs: While 69% believe an AI adviser would be as fair, or even more fair, than a human manager when it comes to promotions and raises, only 46% would consider having and AI involved in decisions regarding their own personal promotions, and 86% would want to meet with a human advisor for follow-up feedback after a decision was made by AI.

Business execs also see potential for AI managers to improve life for employees. The majority believe employees wouldn’t mind working with an AI manager if it meant more flexibility and freedom to work from home (71%) and if it meant a more balanced workload (64%). 70% agree that AI has the potential to enable humans to concentrate on meaningful work, as well as indulge in more leisure activities.

67% of business execs believe leveraging AI will help humans and machines work together, leveraging both artificial and human intelligences in the best way possible. This combined man-machine hybrid is more powerful than either entity on its own.

Conclusion: Embrace the revolution

AI, as a true change agent, is coming, and in many ways, its early rumblings are already being felt. It’s clear that some people will eagerly adopt and integrate the new tools and ways of working it makes possible, while others will be more cautious or even oppose the changes it brings to their life or work.

An open mind will be the biggest asset in the near future, as the technology advances and we continue to experiment with how to use AI to solve problems—in our personal lives, professional lives, and society at large. Those who think practically and critically will ride the waves of these advancements instead of being left behind.

Here’s how to begin preparing for an AI future and capitalizing on its potential:

  • Coach and collaborate.

    In this evolving world, everyone needs to think like a teacher, director, or mentor. Humans will determine where and how machines will learn, identifying the appropriate data, guiding the training process, and refining the outputs. We’ll also need to champion a new kind of teamwork, which sets goals for man-machine teams, delegates tasks for productivity, and applies the insights to new areas. Above all, we must never lose sight of the human experience, even as we embrace automation and new ways of working.

  • Embrace learning and perspectives.

    While AI may take on menial work and thinking, the skills that business and society need are shifting. We must cultivate creativity, adaptability, and a mindset of continuous learning. In particular, we must seek out diverse perspectives—within our businesses and communities—as we use develop the next-generation of AI-powered tools and processes. Collectively, this diversity enables us to take better advantage of AI's potential.

  • Harness data.

    As with most technologies, data is what fuels AI. Individuals and businesses must understand the data they have; what additional data they might need to answer questions, improve processes, or surface opportunities; and how to integrate and safeguard all of it. This requires having people in all areas of the business and government that understand data, from data scientists and analysts to data savvy marketers, business leaders, and finance specialists.

  • Look for opportunity.

    Business and civic leaders should begin thinking about how and where AI can make a difference. Start with human workflow and consider how machines become a more seamless part of that flow. Ask whether you want to enhance existing processes to reduce costs and improve productivity, or aspire to something new—responsive and self-driven products, services, and experiences that incorporate AI.

Above all, AI has the potential to make the world better: to improve health, to further education, to increase wealth, to create new, long-term opportunities. It will move businesses and governments forward while offering the potential to do it in a humane way by not leaving anyone behind.

While there are many obstacles to overcome, AI has the potential to solve many of today’s problems and push humans even further. But this change is only possible if individuals and businesses embrace it with a goal of creating man-machine hybrids that are better together, dedicated to improving lives, products, and experiences for everyone.

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