The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies around the world to work remotely and change nearly everything about their work habits, and technology companies everywhere stepped up and met that challenge by accelerating what were already emerging technologies.
Things like unified communications and collaboration, videoconferencing and cloud computing have skyrocketed since the start of the year, but another technology is becoming a part of our working lives at a rapid pace: artificial intelligence.
“What happened in five years is now happening in five months,” says Igor Jablokov, founder and CEO of augmented AI company Pryon and an early pioneer of automated cloud platforms for voice recognition that helped invent the technology that led to Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa.
In an interview with My TechDecisions, Jablokov told us how artificial intelligence is being used in the enterprise market, how it will expand, and what the industry needs to do to continue fine tuning the technology.
According to Jablokov, artificial intelligence isn’t limited to the enterprise office environment.
“They really run the gamut from white collar to blue collar use cases,” Jablokov says. “There are a myriad ways that people can use (artificial intelligence and virtual assistants) in these environments.”
Virtual assistants are becoming part of the workplace
A common use case is involves an intelligent virtual assistant helping mission-critical workers access information quickly and answering questions for customers within seconds.
Experts or call center agents answering phone calls can leverage these assistants to reduce call times.
“That obviously lowers their costs and their customer satisfaction,” Jablokov says.
With a dispersed or remote workforce, these kind of AI assistants play an important role since we’re not able to quickly ask colleagues for important pieces of information. .
“Now, they’re not sitting in our homes,” Jablokov says. “Everybody is spread out.”
Another growing use case that can also help keep conference rooms safe and sanitary is using virtual assistants during videoconferencing calls.
Several companies already offer integrations with voice assistants like Alexa and Cortana, which allows users to start and end meetings using only their voice.
A growing use case is using voice recognition software that leverages artificial intelligence that records and transcribes meetings so employees can refer back to the transcript and employees that missing the meeting can catch up on what they missed.
A deeper integration of transcription services is on tap for the near future, Jablokov says.
“I think that’s going to the next wave of these things, where they’re going to turn into something that you can leverage,” Jablokov says.
There will be rollouts, and then corrections
Artificial intelligence – while clearly a useful tool for dozens of uses in the office and beyond – is still the early stages of what is ultimately possible. That means companies developing this technology will continue to refine and tweak the technology.
Over the next decade, we should expect to see more use cases of AI, but also more failures that need correcting. Transcription services like Otter.ai – while extremely useful for journalists and others – is not always accurate.
Other voice recognition technologies and AI-based tech like facial recognition can be prone to errors, but there will be a correction, Jablokov says.
“The first half of this decade is going to be spent deploying these things and where they land, expand and permeate the enterprise,” Jablokov says. “The second half of the decade is going to be used to essentially correct unintended consequences that arise from that.”
Other technologies like social media follow a similar pattern: in the first handful of years, it’s hailed as groundbreaking and innovative, but it eventually becomes misused and needs correcting.
“AI is not immune,” Jablokov says.