Beyond the Buzz — Khoros AI and ML Today and Tomorrow

Dave Evans, Khoros Product Marketing

Maybe you’ve heard this one: Guy walks into a bar, and the bartender says “What’ll you have?” Without missing a beat, the guy says, “Based on the last ten people you served, you tell me!”

OK, we may not be served by automated bartenders yet, but it doesn’t seem too far-fetched if you believe the hype. AI, or artificial intelligence, is the solution du jour to just about everything these days, but the promise of business automation is still just a bit ahead of the proof: while almost 70% of high-performing companies are actively looking for ways to use AI, just over half (57%) have a “completely defined plan” to actually use and benefit from it.

What are AI and its companion ML (machine learning)? Think of the pair as a way for a system to respond to a request (that’s the AI part) and to improve that response over time based on the outcomes it "observes" (that’s the ML part.) So the robotic system — or “bot” — gets smarter as time goes on.

AI and ML function as a pair: AI responds to requests, while ML observes the outcomes and determines how to improve responses over time

Business automation is on the minds of digital marketing, care, and community buyers alike. But according to research conducted by Illuminas in August 2019, it’s not yet a business priority. Only 15% of marketing and 12% of care buyers valued “existing and/or forthcoming AI capabilities” in the top five decision criteria to purchase a solution. Although automation capabilities ranked lowest among all buyers’ decision criteria, interest and the market to support it are quickly growing: In just the second quarter of 2019, AI startups received a record $7.4 billion in funding.

At Khoros, we have long been believers in the promise of AI and ML — and we’re investing to see that promise realized. The Khoros vision for business automation centers around helping you and your team get more done — delivering faster, better, even human experiences to your customers at accelerated scale. It means creating specific solutions for real problems modern enterprises are facing.

Over four years ago, in fact, we were one of the first social technology solutions to include AI/ML capabilities in our offerings. For example, our care solution recognizes and flags inbound posts as “actionable” for prioritized routing when they are similar to posts that care agents have responded to before. We also deliver automated analysis of sentiment and tone — analytics that get smarter over time based on sentiment conversion tracking. Fast forward to today, and these technologies are widely adopted and leveraged by our customer base — helping brands to pinpoint problems quickly, and respond with helpful solutions even faster.

We continue to build needs-driven AI and ML into our platform — in other words, we continue to leverage AI and ML to solve real customer problems instead of sprinkling it everywhere with no problem to solve. We focus on specific use cases where it can provide trusted results that tie to clear business objectives. At the end of the day, automation must be employed for a useful purpose or businesses run the risk of diving in head first without positive outcomes and ROI. The result? Damaged reputation and ongoing costs for a capability that nobody trusts or wants to use, which hurts your ability to dive in deeper with a stronger use case later on. Khoros believes that with a smart strategy and a solid partner, you can cut through the hype.

At the end of the day, automation must be employed for a useful purpose or businesses run the risk of diving in head first without positive outcomes and ROI.

As digital channels proliferate and volumes rise, you have to scale your customer service team without blowing your budget. Business automation can offer suggested answers to agents — from a variety of sources, depending on successful responses — so agents can work smarter on more conversations. In the future, automation could even give you predictive staffing recommendations — for volume, skill, and resource (bot or human) — in real-time across teams and channels.

For community managers, it takes a lot of time to engage with millions of members to keep a community vibrant. That process doesn’t have to be entirely manual. AI can assist community managers in quickly identifying potential high value members for nurture opportunities or increased personalization by automatically recommending content based on a member’s interests. In the future, AI could also personalize the No. 1 community activity — search — and offer visitors intent-based results.

For marketers, digital content automation could help make recommendations in creating relevant campaigns with content that inspires action. In the future, AI could speed the processes of tagging and labelling, or assist with governance by assessing the likelihood of content passing versus failing brand content guidelines in approval workflows, so brand marketers can focus on what really matters: Engagement.

The goal is to help you market more effectively, better serve an increasing number of customers, and grow your community advocacy. Not by eliminating humans, but by assisting them — removing the drudgery of repetitive tasks to make the job they do more enjoyable and impactful. Consider that the majority (80%) of service decision makers believe AI is most effective when deployed with — rather than in place of — humans.

AI and ML are here, and they’re real. Yes, there’s a ton of hype around both of them. But with a smart strategy and a solid partner to support you along the way, you can cut through the hype and maximize your ROI.

For more information on how to make smart use of the latest in digital engagement technology, contact Khoros.

    Would you like to learn more about Khoros?