Coming Soon – Artificial Intelligence as a Remote Worker Assistant?

It is always fun reading future predictions, especially when they are written by industry analyst firms. Compelled to try and identify new trends before they become mainstream, these types of predictions can sometimes have accuracy. The timing may be off, but often the concept behind these types of productions has merit. I found myself reading one of these predictions, published by International Data Corporation (IDC) recently, on the future of Artificial Intelligence (AI). As I read the story, I thought about the concept of AI becoming a virtual assistant for remote workers.

AI technology has existed for years – the challenge has been to harness sufficient computing power to make it a reality. The growing use of the cloud as a distributed computing architecture has the potential to finally overcome this challenge, creating significant disruptive opportunities for new, innovative ways to leverage artificial intelligence to boost productivity, gain intelligence and to provide decision support at a level never seen before.


Predictions on the Future of Artificial Intelligence

IDC regularly publishes predictions at the end of every year on the various technologies the firm’s analysts cover, with the objective of providing their clients with insights into where a technology is heading. During their most recent group of predictions, IDC published this FutureScape report, “Worldwide Analytics, Cognitive/AI and Big Data 2017 Predictions” (source).

IDC forecasts that by 2018, 75% of enterprise and Independent Software Vendor (ISV) development will include cognitive/AI or machine learning functionality in at least one application, including all business analytics tools. That is a pretty bold assumption – 75% is a big number. This prediction is so big that IDC is suggesting that enterprise application upgrade cycles may accelerate because of this transformation.  Wow.


Artificial Intelligence as the Ultimate Remote Worker?

If these predictions come true, then AI is about to go mainstream. With access to all this computing power and deductive reasoning embedded within applications, one can quickly see many new use cases for this type of capability. One might be that the concept of a virtual “assistant” might now be possible.

Today, every iPhone user has Siri, which can be helpful when you need to be hands free. Voice commands are nice, but AI is more than Siri.

Remote workers are often working solo out in the field, or are travelling to a client or prospect location. Imagine the productivity an assistant might provide – especially if they could start thinking on their own?  Of course, thee right expectations would need to be established, and sufficient security measures would need to be put in place.

Imagine if you had an assistant that could process hundreds of thousands of data points to help pick the best time to make a call to a specific individual and speak with them live on the phone? Or, what about the right time to wait for a follow up engagement with a prospect?  Or, insights into what is leading a customer to consider a future project or implementation timeframe? Some of the “guessing” game we all do when making decisions based on “hunches” might be reduced, replaced instead with a decision support model based on highly accurate calculation to improve the likelihood of a desired outcome.

One can see that in the world of Artificial Intelligence, the “co-worker” I am suggesting is virtual, living in the cyber world. This type of “worker” is similar, in some ways, to remote workers. They both exist, but might not be physically present or visible – but, their work matters, as measured by the output generated. Maybe now is the time to start taking remote working seriously, given the increasing virtual world we are living in today, and how that world is set to change drastically over the next two to five years.

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