The real investment in sales AI: augmentation

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According to Pew Research, 72 percent of people are worried about a future where artificial intelligence can perform human tasks and ultimately replace the human worker.

Those fears seem to be legitimized when robotics and AI companies build machines to perform tasks typically filled by low-income workers. Self-service kiosks are replacing cashiers, apple-picking robots are replacing field workers, and down the road, driverless cars will replace taxi drivers, and so on.

These are incredible examples of how far we’ve come in the development of AI technology, but it’s critical to take a step back and evaluate how AI will realistically affect your organization and role.

The Harvard Business Review says wasted time and inefficient processes costs American companies more than $3 trillion every year. For the sales organization, the real value AI brings to the table is simplifying and improving inefficient processes through augmentation.

What is augmented intelligence?

Artificial intelligence is often designed to mirror human intelligence, while augmented intelligence elevates human intelligence and aids them in working faster and smarter. Augmented intelligence tools are created to help rather than replace humans.

Augmented intelligence follows a five-function cadence that allows it to learn with human influence. It repeats a cycle of understanding, interpretation, reasoning, learning, and assurance. Here’s how it works:

Understanding: Systems are fed data, which it breaks down and derives meaning from.

Interpretation: New data is inputted, the system then reflects on old data to interpret new data sets.

Reasoning: The system creates “output” or “results” for new data set.

Learn: Humans give feedback on output and the system adjusts accordingly.

Assure: Security and compliance are ensured using blockchain or AI technology.

Having humans and machines work hand-in-hand is a win-win for both parties. The machine grows smarter and more productive while the human workload is streamlined. With humans guiding the learning process these tools learn and adjust their models more quickly than intelligence tools with no human feedback loop.

What can augmented tools do?

Augmented tools are currently used across a number of fields to help drive productivity, improve efficiency and save people time and organizational dollars. Most often augmented tools are used to clean data sets, give predictions, improve decision-making, and to respond to customer service needs.

These systems are already in use in the healthcare, financial, retail, manufacturing, sales and marketing sectors. They’re helping diagnose and suggest treatments for ill patients in hospitals. They can perform risk analytics and regulation tasks in banks. And augmented tools can automate CRM updates and suggest new accounts for sales teams.

The beauty of augmented intelligence is that these systems use historical data to help make predictions, but the human-user always has the decision-making power. Some common-place examples include suggestions from online retailers and streaming services.

Let’s use Netflix as an example. Say you recently watched “Orange is the New Black.” Netflix may then suggest other shows with prison themes, or documentaries about life behind bars, or shows with a strong female lead, etc.

Based on past data (your recently watched shows and movies), it’s able to make a prediction about what you will want to watch next. Once you make your latest selection, it will adjust its algorithm to further customize your experience.

Why augment sales?

Forty-six percent of companies are looking to invest in AI tools for their sales and marketing teams — sales likely because productivity is the No. 1 challenge for B2B sales organizations.

Sales teams can cost corporations millions of dollars — some spending half their revenue on this area alone. Salesforce, for example, spends 49 percent of their annual revenue on sales and marketing.

Sales AI tools increase productivity by helping organizational leaders with company decisions and by automating the administrative work many sales representatives do on a daily basis.

Augmented intelligence impacts decisions about company spending by increasing the accuracy of sales forecasts. Sales representatives can make smarter decisions about what accounts to sell to based on their past closed deals. If sales AI tools can save up to an hour each week they’d typically spend on busy work, imagine the hundreds of thousands of dollars it can save the company annually.

Sales is the perfect opportunity for augmentation since machines can never fully replace the human element. Sales need empathy, communication, negotiation and customer service skills, in addition to being likable and relatable.

Why now?

The global value derived from AI tools as a whole is expected to surpass the trillion dollar mark (~$1.2 trillion) this year and hit nearly $4 trillion by 2022. We’re on the bleeding edge of the next industrial revolution with AI tools at the epicenter.

Gartner predicts that within the next ten years AI will be the “most disruptive class of technology.” At SalesHero we see this coming in the form of autonomous business processes, reducing waste and saving time for employees and companies.

Eighty-five percent of executives think AI will give their company a competitive advantage, but only 20 percent have already incorporated it into their business processes and less than 39 percent have an AI strategy in place. Companies that implement now will be ahead of the curve.

And those who were early to adopt are already seeing the rewards. Eighty-three percent of the most aggressive adopters said their companies have achieved either moderate (53 percent) or substantial (30 percent) benefits. The stakes are high; the earlier you implement AI the better your advantage and the later you implement the longer your strides will need to be to catch up.

By Jessica Munday

Content Marketing Specialist at SalesHero, writing about technology, sales, AI and the future of business!

Published Jul 24, 2018

Posted in Innovation

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