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Achieving business value from cognitive collaboration

CIOs can take advantage of AI to improve employee and customer collaboration with cognitive capabilities that are now available from vendors such as Microsoft, Google and Facebook.

CIOs are faced with a dilemma. While more than 85% of organizations are investing in digital transformation, according to Nemertes Research, less than 16% are seeing measurable and sustainable performance gains, according to a McKinsey study released in late 2018.

The reality for CIOs is simply deploying new technologies in an attempt to improve internal and customer-facing collaborative processes doesn't necessarily lead to a measurable return on investment. Instead, new collaboration capabilities potentially create friction and lack of contextual awareness, as employees constantly move among a variety of different applications for content creation, messaging, calling and meetings.

Meeting participants spend valuable time searching for related documents, files and other information, or on LinkedIn attempting to learn about co-workers, partners and customers before, during and after a call. Workers struggle with scheduling and starting meetings and lack automated abilities to capture highlights and follow-on action items.

An emerging set of technologies, based on AI and machine learning, aims to improve the collaboration experience by connecting people, applications and data; improving usability of apps and endpoints; and ultimately delivering a positive return on investment by enabling greater efficiency and productivity.  We refer to these capabilities as cognitive collaboration.

An emerging set of technologies, based on AI and machine learning, aims to improve the collaboration experience by connecting people, applications and data; improving usability of apps and endpoints; and ultimately delivering a positive return on investment by enabling greater efficiency and productivity.

Today, cognitive collaboration capabilities are increasingly available from vendors, including BlueJeans, Cisco, Facebook, Google, GoToMeeting, Microsoft and Zoom, as well as their partners. Examples of already-delivered services include the following:

  • Intelligent virtual assistants within conference rooms that allow individuals to start and control meetings using their voice. Facial recognition with an intelligent in-room assistant enables the system to recognize a meeting participant when they enter the meeting space and can offer to start or join them to their meeting. During a meeting, an intelligent virtual assistant can take notes, capture follow-on action items and distribute follow-on information to meeting participants. At the desktop, virtual assistants can set up a workspace for a project, assign tasks and calls, and allow for intelligent voice-controlled search across a variety of applications.
  • Meeting participant recognition goes beyond simply starting a meeting to enable participants to see contextual information about other participants. For example, hovering a mouse over someone's head can show links to recent conversations, common contacts and publicly available information, including bios, social media posts and news items. Participant recognition capabilities allow for more efficient office space design by capturing the number of people physically present in a conference room, enabling facilities managers to discover rooms that are under- or overutilized.
  • UX enhancements powered by AI can automatically recognize and frame video conferencing participants, reduce or eliminate background audio noise and even enable virtual backgrounds to eliminate clutter or distractions in open workspaces.
  • Language translation today enables closed-capture translation display of spoken text. But, in the future, it will allow for near-real-time conversational translation that allows all meeting participants to speak and hear in their native languages.

Cognitive collaboration also enables intelligent customer interactions. Today, Nemertes tracks more than 20 vendors, including all leading contact center providers that either deliver their own cognitive collaboration capabilities or who do so through partners. Examples include the following:

  • Chatbots to support improved self-service, reducing cost of operations and generating improved customer satisfaction. Nemertes recently published an Intelligent Customer Experience (ICE) study based on data gathered from more than 500 organizations, which noted that using a chatbot to replace a live agent can generate savings between $26,000 and $61,000 per agent, per year.
  • Intelligent customer interactions enable incoming calls to be routed based on known information about the customer -- e.g. their status, sales volume, recent orders or past interactions -- and provide contextual information in real time to agents to assist them in completing the interaction. Examples include suggestions for up-sale, real-time language translation or to enable supervisors to quickly identify engagements that may require additional support.

CIOs should actively plan for the introduction of cognitive collaboration capabilities into their organizations. Some have already arrived via feature upgrades to existing platforms, while others require additional investment. The first step is to meet with your vendors to understand their current and planned capabilities.

Beyond that, collaboration and customer engagement leaders should take the time to learn about capabilities delivered by other vendors and to evaluate how application of cognitive capabilities can deliver measurable and sustainable benefits in terms of reducing costs, improving revenue and gaining process efficiencies.

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