How Artificial Intelligence Could Make Business More Human


Baldwin Cunningham, Contributor

October 5, 2015

“The highest value [work] that people do is talking to other human beings”  - Danielle Morrill, founder & CEO of Mattermark.

Artificial intelligence today is being integrated across the professional landscape. From scheduling to customer service to programmatic ad buying, more and more day-to-day business functions are tapping AI for automation and personalization.

Mattermark is a software platform that gives sales people, investors, and researchers access to deep information about private companies. Because private companies can be young and quickly changing, Mattermark taps a custom AI system to show how companies are performing relative to peers. Their product is only one area in which the company taps artificial intelligence, however, also using AI solutions for things like office scheduling.

In the video below, founder & CEO Danielle Morrill describes how, far from making business more cold, robotic, and disconnected, artificial intelligence actually frees businesses and their employees up to spend much more time focused on hospitality and genuine human connection.

Here are a few of the ways artificial intelligence could make business more human:

1. More Time For The Most Important Work
Good AI tools can help employees spend less time on menial tasks and more time on higher order functions that involve strategy, reasoning, creativity, and connecting with people.

Right now, for example, companies ask sales people to not only be great at sales – in other words, getting to know prospective customers on a personal and professional level, discovering their problems, and proposing solutions – but also to be Excel jockeys, sifting through reams of possible clients and qualifying leads. AI’s job can’t be to cultivate relationships, but smart software can help with all that data intensify qualifying, giving salespeople time back to focus on the most human part of their job.

This same idea can also shape how teams are designed as a whole. Mattermark, for example, works with a company called Clara Labs for scheduling. Rather than having no office support, however, tapping Clara for those most basic tasks leaves the Mattermark administrative team to spend their time on making the office an inviting, productive, happy environment for guests and team members alike.

As Morrill points out in the environment, with fierce competitions for top talent, these sort of approaches to structuring the work experience will likely become a key part of the decision of where to work.

2. Better Customer Support
It isn’t just employees who will reap the benefits of AI, but anyone who interacts with customer support. In most types of businesses, there are certain types of customer service questions that come up over and over.

For example, hotel operators field requests for extra towels or basic necessities dozens if not hundreds of times per day. What if more of their time was freed up for the big challenges – problems with the room, misplaced bookings, guest emergencies – or for higher order customer service, like personalized recommendations for entertainment or dining?

Some hotels are experimenting today with exactly those sort of solutions. Last year, DigitalGenius won the Hilton DigiDay Startup Challenge by offering the hotel an AI system that could field customers most common questions automatically via text message. The Aloft hotel in Cupertino has been experimenting with a robot butler from Savioke that delivers  amenities and room service.

The idea of these technologies isn’t to eliminate the need for customer support. Instead, its to free customer support up to have more time, energy, and attention for higher order service – “Hospitality as status symbol,” as Morrill put it.

3. Experience Personalization
Everything we do today online leaves a trail of information about our interests and preferences. Without artificial intelligence, there would be no way to use that information. With AI, however, businesses can use all of that data to guess at the types of content, products and experiences we’re most likely to enjoy.

This personalization is already starting to take place online in terms of how networks like Facebook show us content and how sites serve advertising. While programmatic ad buying may not feel like a consumer benefit, ads that are contextual to our interests are certainly an improvement over the internet equivalent of a billboard.

What’s more important is that this personalization is just in its infancy. As AI gets smarter, it will become the norm for products and services to be understand who we are and customize our experiences to match. This isn’t just in the digital realm, but will extend to physical experiences. Imagine the same hotel example mentioned above, but instead of their team just being freed up to provide recommendations, there were already custom recommendations about attractions and experiences waiting when you arrived – based on your interests and goals for the trip.

The common thread is that, done well, artificial intelligence frees up the most finite resource people have: their time.  With time reclaimed, the sky’s the limit for how businesses find better ways to make their teams more happy and productive and their customers more fulfilled.


This article was written by Baldwin Cunningham from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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