Is Artificial Intelligence the new “must-have”?
Olivier Novasque – Driver-less cars, virtual assistants, augmented reality, blockchains, robotics, connection technology and nanotechnology … All these innovations are set to bring enormous change to society as we know it, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no exception. Gartner predicts that within three to five years, 50% of analytics applications will feature AI functionality. Corporate giants such as IBM, Google, Apple and Microsoft have been quick off the mark to invest in AI. With the total investment figure estimated at $5 billion by 2020, AI is something no company can now afford to ignore. Yet only a small percentage of them will make this shift.
One of the constraints includes ethical issues surrounding robotization – its legal status, role and operating safety – and the job market shake-up that AI will entail.
Can A.I. genuinely make a difference to Client Engagement?
O.N. – Definitely. Right now, B2C use of IA is most widespread. There’s been huge investment in recent months into chatbots, for example, and into the type of virtual assistants pioneered by Apple. I’ve experienced this myself. I made contact with a decision-maker and was re-directed to his virtual assistant to set up the meeting and was so impressed by the quality of the customer relationship. It was only after we’d exchanged several emails that I clocked that our communication was being handled by a robot!
And that’s just the start of things. By 2020, 40% of interactions between users and virtual assistants will be generated via information held on the Cloud and 85% of customer interaction will no longer require human input. Soon all companies will need to employ this kind of assistance to control costs and achieve a far superior speed and quality of operations compared to what they can currently attain through manpower, enabling them to redirect talent towards more complex tasks.
Is Artificial Intelligence already being used by businesses?
O.N. – Businesses are drowning in the data they’re piling up via their various information systems: their CRM, ERP, marketing automation, intranet, social networks and websites.
The challenge is to combine all this information into a single database and to then organize and analyze it to anticipate customer behavior to activate the right levers. That includes determining which customer is about to leave you, which can be approached for cross selling or upselling, what’s the right moment to target the right customer, and to know which lead is likely to be interested in your solution, and when. Mastering predictive models allows business gaps to be unearthed and acted upon, and to boost performance.
The end game of artificial intelligence platforms is to identify value streams quickly and efficiently to speed up decision-making. Artificial intelligence then becomes an ally for corporate strategy.
How do we compare with GAFA here in Europe?
O.N. – It’s true that the American giants such as GAFA, or the major Chinese e-commerce player Alibaba, were the first to invest seriously in AI and the Internet of Things. But Europe, and especially the French tech sector, is not far behind.
In recent years, we’ve witnessed a real dynamism, with the birth of artificial intelligence-focused start-ups right across all fields. Among them are Alkemics, with the omni-channel consumer at its core; IKO System, a specialist software company for predictive solutions to automate sales prospecting; British company BrightTarget, a Gartner ‘Cool Vendor’ in 2015; Scortex, which is deploying AI at the heart of factories; Craft.Ai, which applies AI to connected devices; and Julie Desk, the AI-based personal assistant.
In Europe, we’ve got a real talent pool of IT engineering skills and expertise that’s set to lead to a successful transformation of its companies and bring long-lasting value for the economy.
What’s ahead for Sidetrade?
O.N. – The redefinition of customer engagement. Our mission? To put AI at the service of Marketing, Sales and Finance teams to drive sales and speed up cash flow. Our intent is to make Sidetrade the indispensable Artificial Intelligence platform for the redefinition of client engagement by breaking down the barriers companies now face. We’re not just a software company. Our intention is to become a genuine business partner to all our customers.