AI set to transform both growth and customer service

24th Feb 2017

Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to double the GDP growth rates of 12 developed economies by 2035, as well as transform the way organisations gain insight into customers.

That's according to Accenture’s new study, Why Artificial Intelligence is the Future of Growth, which also found that AI could significantly boost labour productivity – by up to 40 per cent in some cases.

The study also forecast that the UK could boost its annual growth from 2.5 per cent to 3.9 per cent, generating an extra £651bn.

The findings reflect that, although AI has been around for some time, it has become more commercially viable thanks to the increase in the processing power of computers, a fall in the cost of storing data due to advances in cloud technology, and the existence of a wealth of digitised data.

Valuable insight

The analyst Gartner believes there are more than six billion digitally connected things in the world, generating huge amounts of data every day. Thanks to AI, this data can be analysed to give organisations valuable insight into their customers’ behaviour, demographics and purchasing habits.

Indeed, Mark Purdy, managing director and chief executive at Accenture Research, reported that a government agency has shown its support for AI by implementing the virtual customer-service assistant Amelia, which was developed by Accenture’s partner, IPSoft.

But despite AI’s potential to transform the workplace across almost any sector, the upfront investment it requires can deter organisations from investing in it. The absence of appropriate regulatory frameworks to support the use of AI is another barrier to take-up.

Balancing act

There’s also the fear that widespread adoption of AI, given that it usually involves using computer systems to perform tasks that previously required human intelligence, could cost people their jobs.

But Purdy argues that, by taking care of the more mundane tasks, AI will free up time for humans to concentrate on creating, innovating and communicating, rather than make them redundant. “AI is very people-centred,” he says. “It’s about enabling people to do their jobs better, be more productive and focus on their high-value tasks.”

Getting this balance right will be crucial if AI is to help rather than harm the delivery of customer service.

The Institute of Customer Service’s recent report, Customer Service Trends 2017, notes that AI, along with sensors and the Internet of Things, is creating the potential to offer efficient, enhanced and personalised services.

But the report also emphasises that one of the key challenges in 2017 will be combining technology and people-based experiences to deliver the optimum blend of efficiency and personalised care.

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