What is AI?
AI stands for Artificial Intelligence. I prefer automated intelligence. It is already with us in many ways. Artificial Intelligence is the intelligence exhibited by machines or software.
Algorithms that help Google be the smartest search engine in the galaxy.
Stock markets around the world use Algos, as they call them, allowing high-frequency trading using algorithms. It is estimated that as of 2009, high-frequency trading accounted for 60-73% of all US stock trading volume.Then, Artificial Intelligence or AI has eliminated human traders.
- Robots, priced so low, you can afford to mow your lawn or vacuum your carpets.
- Cars that drive without humans. Scary.
- Amazon algorithms suggesting what to buy next, the most successful cross-selling engine on the planet.
AI is already with us and is about to experience massive growth. Before we take a look at the predictions for us, let’s take a quick look at the economics of it all – after all, it’s money that drives everything.
The fundamental objective of all advanced economies is to increase productivity. In other words, producing more goods and services or gross domestic product (GDP) per person in the workforce. Gone are the days of cheap labor. In the UK we now have the living wage, which has increased substantially from the previous minimum wage. Offshoring in the Far East does not generate cheap labor; in fact, labor costs in China are rising rapidly as its industrial growth continues.
- In the past, we relied on innovations and inventions to boost productivity.
- In the 19th century, we had steam power
- At the beginning of the 20th century, we had electricity and the car
- In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, we had personal computing and the Internet.
All these inventions increased the GDP of the countries that maximized their use.
AI is projected to increase GDP by 1% during the years 2020 and 2030. That is when the changes that I am going to talk about will become mainstream. Let’s go.
1. Brains in the sky
Or smart data in the cloud. Have you ever talked to Siri or Cortana? These are embryos of this prediction. In the future, all our knowledge, our experiences, our data will be kept in a personal cloud storage accessible through voice control from our smartphones. It is already. But future knowledge can learn and improve based on what we experience, do, and learn.
Think about it. Everything you want to know or do, the answer will be in the personal cloud. You can ask the cloud any question … anything … and it will answer it in seconds.
The implications for the inside sales operation are enormous. Training is no longer necessary. Your cloud can advise you on what you need to know, can provide you with information and show you how to do things with a voice command.
There is no need for training as cloud storage will watch you and give you feedback to improve what you do. He is an automated mentor, a coach always available to help and assist.
And learn, improve, you can buy “boost” packs that enhance it. Can you imagine being able to act and do anything?
There’s even talk of being able to map the human brain, digitize the output, and put it in the cloud for accessibility at any time. To be able to “back up” your brain. Perhaps there are still a few more years to go.
It will have a huge influence on the inside sales operation. Robots to look for tea, cleaning robots. Your boss uses a robot to ask you how you are, almost like a moving avatar. Window cleaning robots, compliance robots roaming the center, observing and recording around you.
3. Internet of things
All devices will be connected to the Internet and will communicate with other devices.
In our house, the following items have chips and can communicate over the Internet:
- Our kitchen Aga. You can turn it on and off from a phone and if you develop a power failure, you inform Aga’s central control of the problem.
- Our refrigerator that can inform Tesco when we are low on milk.
- TVs, DVD players, Sky Box, of course.
- My printer.
- My Microsoft band.
- My car. The computer tells me that my service is expired and simultaneously contacts the local garage who sends me an email to make an appointment.
- Smartphones, Tablets, Kindles … but you knew they were connected.
The number of devices connected to the Internet is expected to grow tenfold, from 2 billion to 25 billion, between 2010 and 2020.
What are the implications for the inside sales operation? Anything that smells like electricity is connected to the Internet and can talk to something else. I mentioned the vending machine, but this is a small ticket compared to the bands around your inside sales staff’s wrists.
Imagine that the bands give you information about their mental state, their motivation, their stress levels. Do they need a break, a conversation, or just someone to advise? We all know that burnout among inside sales staff is high and turnover in a call center is terrible. Imagine being able to monitor your mood, how helpful this would be.
4. 3D printing
Not necessarily AI, but something that will change the way companies and people buy products. Instead of buying them, we will use the 3D printer to make them.
From the Internet, the blueprint is sent directly to the 3D printer, which does it there and then, using some kind of polymer or liquid metal or tofu food product.
So when you need a kit, you order it on the internet, pay for the blueprint and print it on the office 3D printer or on the owner’s share as they will start to get very expensive.
5. Automated seller
This may seem very unusual, but you can get software that is smart and can read and respond to written text. Imagine an email arrives, the automated salesperson named Lucy responds to it based on her programming algorithms and her ability to react to the written word.
You have access to everyone’s calendar, email systems, and the company’s data and intelligence cloud, so you can mimic the responses of a real human being.
This morning I was using live chat to talk to HP about my faulty printer. The questions came from her, I answered, she reacted and told me how to fix the printer. It might as well have been human, it might as well have been a clever algorithm handling the work.
More and more of these roles will migrate to algorithms, and in the inside sales of the future, much of the initial email exchange and live chats will be handled this way. Once the customer has been qualified by the algorithm or something as I’ll call it from now on, it will pass the query to a human who can make contact and handle the customer in the future.
Live video chats can be achieved with an algorithm. The algorithm will look, sound, and act like a real person on the screen in front of you.
6. Something on websites
This is the most exciting innovation for the future of inside sales operations. Something in action on websites. Amazon’s cross-selling engine will already recommend products to me, but I’m talking about tips from algos.
Imagine that you are an inside sales operation that sells mortgages and associated protection products. Many companies use human beings at this time to give advice and complete the sale. In the future, clients will log into the system for mortgage advice and get it from the algorithm.
The algorithm will imitate the human being, you will have all the necessary questions, your name will be Dave or Umran, and you will provide great service. I can see that the voice adds to the mix in a way that is difficult to distinguish from a real human. A strictly regulated sale made by a computer program.
Is it a person on the screen or is it a lip-synched avatar of the algorithm? We will never know.
7. Smart call monitoring
This is currently available. A call monitoring system can monitor and listen to the actual call and dial when a problem occurs. Perhaps an irate customer or keywords spoken by the customer or seller. This could be intercepted by the manager or later logged for training purposes. A real time saver.
8. Contracting without limits
It is difficult to recruit the right kind of people in the area where the inside sales operation is located, but the future will allow you to recruit from anywhere in the world and connect them to the center via the Internet. Now it can, but the future will allow this to be more effective than it is now with all the algos and AI up and running.
9. Virtual reality
It will become a reality and omnipresent. We already have the technology, but it will be cheaper and easier to move the mass of data around the ultra-fast connections that everyone has.
Your Singapore-based in-house salesperson can put on your headphones and be in the training room in Milton Keynes, interacting with your colleagues. You can be with the manager one on one in meeting room number 4.
It will be broadcast to these rooms, and over time you will think that the person is actually in front of you. But they are not, they are in the central office in the center of the capital of Singapore.
Think about the impact with customers. With the ability to broadcast your hologram anywhere, Inside Sales will need to change its name to field sales. Now there is a game changer.
All of these predictions are based on current events and trends that are already happening. The period 2020 to 2030 will see robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) dominating our economies and contributing to a 1% increase in global GDP through additional productivity.
For inside sales operations, we are going to witness a huge increase in productivity, and by the way, the HP rep on live chat this morning was a human and told me her name was Lucy.