Earlier this month the Voxpro team spent a very productive week in New Orleans at Collision. It was a fantastic opportunity to interact with some of the fastest growing startups in the world, as well as some of the most established yet disruptive global tech companies. The week also was really eye opening in terms of learning about key emerging trends affecting the global tech community. Some of the most talked about topics were AI and Machine learning, so we’d like to share some of the takeaway points we learned from the event in an effort to decode the technology.
There is a lot of talk about AI (Artificial Intelligence), Machine Learning and Bots, and what effect they could have on companies. Let’s take a crash course on these important topics, and separate the hype from fact.
- AI is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) and is usually defined as the science of making computers do things that require intelligence when done by humans. AI has had some success in limited or simplified, domains.
- Machine learning is a type of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that provides computers with the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed. Machine learning focuses on the development of computer programs that can change when exposed to new data.
- A bot or “chatbot”, short for chat robot, is a computer program that simulates human conversation, or chat, through artificial intelligence.
Why are these important for businesses to sit up and take notice? Because bots and machines are getting smarter and smarter every day, and can automate fairly boring and repetitive tasks. As bots get smarter, the tasks can become increasingly more difficult and the bots will ‘learn’ to do harder and more complex work.
A good example of this is letter sorting in the post office. For many years, letters were sorted by hand, but computers developed and were used to ‘read’ the writing on letters, making it thousands of times faster to process mail. There are many similar innovations that we take for granted today.
- If you’ve ever used Siri or Google Voice on your phone, then that is the result of millions of hours of programming allowing a computer to understand human speech and giving you back a smart answer (most of the time).
- Have you ever wondered how Amazon can ‘predict’ what you want to buy when you go shopping online? They are using a complicated AI recommendation engine.
- Have you had your card blocked when you go aboard? Visa and MasterCard use AI to recognize patterns out of the ordinary, and try to detect when there is a break in the normal pattern.
Companies should be embracing these new technologies as they can be used to augment our work and make it better and faster. Here are 3 companies that we saw at Collision that are using this new technology on a day to day basis:
Blippar is an app that allows the phone to ‘see’ the world around it and tag it. Used primarily by automotive brands, it is used by consumers to look at a picture of a car, and then the system recognizes the car, and gives the viewers a ‘look inside’ that particular brand. Blippar uses AI to recognize brands, images and even people. You can try it on www.blippar.com
Meet Amy, your digital assistant. Amy works in the background of your email, helping you to schedule calendar meetings, without the back and forth that usually happens. How Amy works is that you CC Amy (email@example.com) on your emails and she will work with whoever you are trying to set up a meeting with to find the right time for both attendees. Great service and it’s free! www.X.ai
- Amazon Alexa
Amazon was in force in Collision, integrating into many apps and platforms. One of the more interesting ones was their integration with Ecobee, a smart home thermostat. No need to press any buttons, just ask “Alexa, turn the heat on”. http://alexa.amazon.com
Whether we like it or not, bots and AI are here to stay. Every company, including Voxpro should be looking at how they can integrate this new technology into their company because there is so much to be gained from utilising this technology- not least the fact it enables your people to engage with work that is more engaging and higher up the value chain. As the technology progresses, it will become more and more normal that we’ll interact with a machine to help us perform our daily tasks. We already do it every day with our phones, so why not embrace it in other areas of our life with an intelligent assistant that can take away needless tasks from our lives and makes us more productive!
Image Credit: Collision