Tuesday, 19 December 2017 15:09

AI and Voice two of the top tech trends in 2018 and beyond

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Two top industry executives have talked up AI and Voice as two major technology trends and advancements that will transform how businesses better deliver customer experience in 2018.

Aniqa Tariq, managing director of Bluewolf ANZ and Peter Nann, Salmat’s senior technical lead of Speech Solutions, claim to be "passionate about shaping the future and driving technology innovation forward", and why not?

We're nearly in 2018, 18 years into the new millennium and at least two or three generations since we used to watch the Towards 2000 and then Beyond 2000 TV shows from last century, and while there's so much more yet to arrive, we've come a very long way in the fast few decades than all of human history put together.

Separately, both Tariq and Nann discuss below "how AI and voice assisted technology are key drivers in improving how businesses can deliver more personalised, intuitive insights as we move into a world where it’s customer-first more than ever before".

Discussing "The AI Mindset" is Tariq, who said:

“AI will continue to be a vehicle that will allow Australian companies to use data at scale to connect more deeply with customers than ever before. The Australian companies who have invested in AI are seeing unprecedented opportunities on business impact and customer experience; they clearly understand what the benefits of what this technology can bring.

“However, there’s still a discrepancy between C-level executives who understand AI and those who have yet to deploy it in their business. In the process of adapting AI, organisations face a dual challenge of balancing the improvements in productivity and satisfaction while they shift the digital mindset of the company. In 2018, Australian organisations need to embrace 'an AI mindset', redefine ROI to achieve a return on intelligence, innovation and inspiration.

“Wealth management continues to be the strongest industry in Australia for AI. Financial advisors are creating a comprehensive view of the client using multiple data sources inside the organisation, which in turn, helps the advisors personalise their service. Banking and Insurance companies are also looking to AI for to address cyber security, fraud detection and regulatory compliance. In 2018, we anticipate industries like Telecommunications, Media and Entertainment, Business Services and Manufacturing to look further to AI to drive exceptional customer experiences.

“In the case of tackling workplace diversity, we’re seeing AI being leveraged to identify and learn from bias within routine tasks and documents, such as job descriptions used in the hiring process. AI technology can already be used to identify the impact certain words in job descriptions have on the gender of job applicants.” 

Then we hear that Voice is the new frontier for Australian businesses, from Nann, who said:

“Voice is our primary, and most natural way of communicating, and although voice-activated technologies have been available on mobile devices for a number of years, it lacked a key use case that would justify massive adoption. However, with the rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the reality of connected homes means new technologies like in-home voice assistants — such as the Google Assistant on the Google Home and Amazon Alexa — will become commonplace as we go about our daily lives in the future.

“Recent research has found that the total number of smart speakers sold and in use in the US will approach 40 million by the close of 2017. However another common thread we are seeing is that sales figures continue to exceed most future-looking estimates. Therefore, if these overseas growth trends are anything to go by, it will turn consumer behaviour on its head, and herald a new era of voice-first user experience.

“As voice technology products begin to hit our shores, Australian customers will begin to expect more convenience from their brands with new voice-based initiatives. Therefore in 2018 expect to see a number of Australian businesses developing products and services, optimising internal processes, improving user experience and client services, and creating innovative marketing campaigns that use voice-activated technology to their advantage.” 

So, that Star Trek world of talking to and interacting with the AI computer by voice — something surprisingly absent from Star Trek TNG-esque sci-fi TV show "The Orville" — will, according to reports, be clearly arriving to us in the 21st century well in advance of the 24th, and thank goodness for that!

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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