Technologists say a new frontier of digital transformation sits just around the corner. All powered by a wave of artificial intelligence technologies.

And yet, half of IT decision makers in enterprise say their company is not yet ready to deploy AI technologies.

They give reasons. Data security fears. Integration nightmares. Regulatory challenges. The list is long.

And it’s a valid list. AI technologies present unique challenges. But with the right approach, companies can manage them all — and at the same time discover a new frontier of opportunity.

Time for a new perspective.

Re-examine caution

Consider two large companies —…

Conversational AI: What to expect in 2019

Imagine your knee hurts.

With every step you take, pain shoots through your leg. So to figure out why, you go and ask a brand-new AI medical assistant.

A system just like Amazon Alexa or Google Duplex — but specialized only in medicine.

The thing understands basic medical terms. High blood sugar, muscle spasms, inflammation — that sort of thing.

After a number of diagnostic questions, it singles out a sprained anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) as the most likely cause of your pain.

A big win. Using conversational AI, you got a likely…

“The Internet is ultimately about innovation and integration, but you don’t get the innovation unless you integrate Web technology into the processes by which you run your business.” — Louis Vincent Gerstner Jr.

A veteran of both American Express and IBM, Gerstner saw the link between integration and innovation before most twenty-first century executives. The best companies wouldn’t just use the Internet; they would integrate it into the cores of their organizations, allowing Internet-age technology to reinvigorate stale processes and benefit customers in novel ways.

Today more companies are coming around to Gerstner’s thinking in regard to machine intelligence, but…

By the time AT&T formed its Opportunity Discovery Department (ODD) inside of Bell Labs in 1995 to assess the impact of market trends, chat technology was already hitting the mainstream. ODD informed senior AT&T executives the company was missing out. Newcomer AOL had taken only two years to reach 50MM users. By comparison, it had taken AT&T 75 years to reach the same milestone.

ODD was staffed with scientists and engineers who understood how quickly new technologies could change business assumptions. But AT&T’s success in its core business made accepting and operationalizing new technologies challenging.

Today, the largest companies in…

What makes a phone call go well? Is it the people on the line, the topics discussed or the conversation’s dynamics? Is a call good because of the outcome or how the outcome gets achieved? The recent New York Times Magazine “Work Issue” is a must-read for anybody interested in people analytics. But if you have time for only one article, check out Charles Duhigg’s essay on Google’s Project Aristotle and the importance of measuring business conversation.

Without giving the entire article away, Duhigg recounts how Julia Rozovsky and a team of Google researchers uncovered that certain features of conversation…

In 1915, it took five operators and 23 minutes to connect the first transcontinental call between New York and San Francisco. Today, more than a century later, phone calls are more reliable and less expensive, but no more dynamic than they were in 1915. The dial tone is still dumb — and what used to pass for a call feature, operator assistance, is no longer relevant to people who have experienced a search engine.

Operator assisted calls on AT&T’s network have declined 18% annually over the last five years and have plunged 93% from their 2004 levels. Verizon filed a…


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