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Why chatbots won’t replace humans

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The use of artificial intelligence in the contact centre may sound like a good idea, but BRUCE VON MALTITZ, co-founder of 1Stream, believes its success lies with how well it is implemented and not just the technology itself.

Fear mongering is everywhere, in every industry. And most recently, the contact centre has experienced its own dose of this with the announcement that Facebook will be making use of chatbots via Messenger to deal with customer queries.

The concern, of course, is that the development and inclusion of intelligent tech will replace humans in a contact centre. There are many opinions on the matter, but many industry experts maintain that while the advancements of technology are remarkable, for the foreseeable future there will remain an important place for people, with the help of automation, in a contact centre.

The reality is that systems, like the ever-frustrating IVR, are starting to take a back seat in favour of more innovative and user-friendly solutions. This can be seen as a positive move as response times are reduced and query resolution increases through advanced tech solutions. But when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI) developments, it is likely to be the implementation rather than the new technology alone that will make or break the introduction of chatbots into a call centre.

With the move to an omni-channel approach in a contact centre where a customer can engage on a variety of platforms, adding an additional channel, such as Messenger, is relatively simple.

Most contact centres are already managing multiple channels through which customers are able to make contact, and with integrated cloud-based solutions, this has become even easier and more streamlined. A chatbot, in the form of Messenger, would simply be an additional channel which can be incorporated into a contact centre’s operations.

While the inclusion of Messenger is straightforward, ensuring that chatbots increase efficiency and improve customer experience may not be quite as simple.

The key is to avoid a chatbot becoming just another automated responder that can’t adequately answer a customer query, and therefore creating more customer frustration rather than enhancing the experience.

Currently, the level of AI such as a chatbot is unlikely to be able to deal with all possible scenarios that will be presented to a contact centre. Therefore, a chatbot could be used to solve simple or routine issues, while for more complex situations, the human element is still essential.

The strength of a contact centre lies in the partnership of technology and the human element.

There is a place for technology and automation such as chatbots in a contact centre to simplify and speed up processes. But, at least for the next 5 to 10 years, this technology will not be sufficiently sophisticated to replace humans who will still need to manage the more complex situations.

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Welcome to world of 2099

The world of 2099 will be unrecognisable from the world of today, but it can be predicted, says one visionary. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK met him in Singapore.

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Futuristic structures tower over the landscape. Giant, alien-looking trees light up with dazzling colours amid the hundreds of plant species that grow up their trunks. Cosmetic stores sell their wares via public touch-screens, with products delivered instantly in drawers below the screens.

This is not a vision of the future. It is a sample of Singapore today. But it is also an inkling of the world we may all experience in the future.

Singapore was the venue, last week, of the World Cities Summit, where engineers, politicians, investors and visionaries rubbed shoulders as they talked about the strategies and policies that would enhance urban living in the future.

As part of the Summit, global payment technologies leader Mastercard hosted a small media briefing by one of Singapore’s leading thinkers about the future, Dr Damian Tan, managing director of Vickers Venture Partners. The company’s slogan “We invest in the extraordinary,” offers a small clue to Tan’s perspective.

“We look as far forward as 2099 because, as a venture capital firm, we invest in the long term,” he tells a group of journalists from Africa and the Middle East. “Companies explode in growth because there is value in the future. If there is no growth, they won’t explode.”

The big question that the Smart Cities Summit and Mastercard are trying to help answer is, what will cities look like in the year 2099? Tan can’t give an exact answer, but he offers a framework that helps one approach the question.

“If you want to look at 81 years into the future, and understand the change that will come, you need to double that amount and look into the past. That takes us to 1856. The difference between then and now is the difference you can expect between now and 2099.”

Click here or on the page link below to read on: Page 2: Soldiers and Health in 2099.

  •    Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube

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Street art goes electric

Kaspersky Lab and British street artist D*Face have unveiled the first-ever “art helmet” design at the Formula E finale for electric cars in New York.

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The ‘Save The World’ helmets will be raced by DS Virgin Racing’s drivers, Sam Bird and Alex Lynn, as they traverse the New York street circuit during the final races of the Formula E season.

The announcement signals the first art helmet by a Formula E team, continuing the heritage of art in motorsport and the cybersecurity brand’s commitment to contemporary art, creativity and innovation. D*Face took inspiration from Kaspersky Lab’s tagline, “A Company To Save The World”, and hopes that his colourful work will inspire people to take positive action.

D*Face will announce his first-ever art car design with a custom-made livery for the DS Virgin Racing Team. Its design will be released at the “Art Goes Green” event after Saturday’s race. The helmets and art car are the latest installations in the “Save the World” collection, following a major permanent public mural that was installed in Brooklyn, New York, in May.

D*Face, whose real name is Dean Stockton, said: “It is exciting to work with Kaspersky Lab on this project and create art with a real message of hope for a better future. After all, this is our world and we need to look after it. It will take every one of us to make a real lasting, impactful change. I love the mentality of the DS Virgin Racing Team and that of Formula E by showcasing sport in a way that doesn’t harm the environment, but is still just as exhilarating and fun.

“It is time for us all to stand together and make a change… be that stopping data steals, climate change, plastic waste or using damaging fuels. I want everyone to make a pledge to do one thing that will help make a change.”

As a sponsor of DS Virgin Racing Team, Kaspersky Lab is responsible for protecting the team’s devices against cyber threats. The company sees the technical environment in the global sport of Formula E as the next frontier in furthering its research and development of new technologies to keep vehicles secure in the digital world.

Sylvain Filippi, Managing Director at DS Virgin Racing, said: “The whole team fully supports this great initiative and our thanks got to Kaspersky and D*Face for their collaboration. It’s an honour to have such an innovative artist bring his talents to bear in our team ahead of the season-finale; the car, drivers’ crash helmets and mural all look amazing.”

Aldo Fucelli Pessot del Bo, Head of Global Partnerships and Sponsorships at Kaspersky Lab added: “There is a need for innovation on a global scale, both in contemporary art and in the fast-growing sport of Formula E. Now, for the first time ever, Kaspersky Lab is proudly bringing together the two sectors in an effort to Save the World and unleash creativity, encourage freedom of expression and further innovation.”

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