AI, Neural Networks, and Analytics…Oh My!

When it comes to business we live in a world of buzz words! Yes, we all know them…synergy, the big picture, quick wins, interface, or my favorite, let’s think outside the box. We all have them, and if you think you don’t take a second to list out all the TLA’s (AKA. Three Letter Acronyms) we use on a daily basis. We live in a buzz word compatible world, and when it comes to business intelligence we are no different. Artificial intelligence (AI), Neural Networks and the hot one of today, Analytics, are all examples of buzz word compatible terms.

Now, it’s easy to make fun buzz words, but the reality is they became buzz words for a reason. They have definition and they help tell a story, but in order to understand it all we need to break it down piece by piece:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Intuition
  • Neural Networks and Human Development
  • Analytics vs Predictive Analytics

Artificial Intelligence and Intuition

Ask any of the experts, and they will all agree computers are getting smarter and smarter every day. At the same time, those experts argue what it means to become artificially aware, of which intuition is a key component. The ability to not only recognize patters from existing data, but to anticipate what will happen from data not yet applied. Today that is a reality. Just ask Lee Sedol, a professional go player, who was recently beaten by a smart computer (Source: Scientific American)

Go is an ancient Chinese board game that goes beyond pattern derived play. The nuances associated with the game require a level of intuition in order to dominate the match.

So, how what does AI mean for business intelligence? To put it simply, its technology that is capable of organizing and analyzing data, while intuitively identifying the potential for a particular behavior. For example, every business is subject to the risk of churn. In the past analysts would pull together dozens of reports in order to evaluate churn, and identify reasons customers leave or cancel services. In the next generation of analytics the technology will proactively identify customers based on analyzed data, and a predictive behavior. Analysts are now able to spend less time on identifying the problem, and spend more time solving the problem.

Neural Networks and Human Development

Ah, neural networks…a favorite of many technology expects. Also commonly used when talking about Artificial Intelligence. For us technology geek’s neural networks convey a sense of intelligence or highly complicated programing that involves decades of development and data. This same concept applies to human development. After years and years of ingesting data we as individuals and as a species become more intelligent. Although, some experts argue that point ☺​​​

Even though we make it sound complicated, the reality is we still learn from applying basic principles and concepts. Google applied this same bottom up approach when enhancing Google Translate (Source: New York Times). Instead of programming the system with all the grammatical rules and words for every single language they took mass amounts of data, and created a system that could analyze the data in order to teach itself how to translate words.

The great part is Google brought a large amount of attention to this approach, but they are far from the first company to put it into action. In the interaction analytics space Nexidia applied this concept from the beginning (2000). It started with organizing and analyzing speech and text based on the root sounds of a language called phonemes. There might be 10’s of thousands of words in the English dictionary, but all those words come from only 44 sounds, or 44 phonemes. Starting with the basic sounds we moved from programming computers to recognize words, to programming computers to learn how to recognize words. Highly scalable, more efficient, and supremely accurate.

Analytics and Predictive Analytics

10-15 years ago no one was talking about Analytics, much less predictive analytics. It was far from becoming a buzz word. Fast forward to today, and you can’t go anywhere without hearing someone talk about the importance of analytics. It’s used when talking about solving a variety of challenges like maintaining compliance, reducing churn, managing costs, improving customer satisfaction, and increasing sales effectiveness.

What we should really be talking about is predictive analytics. In many ways, this combines AI and neural networks. In the same way AI is becoming intuitive, the next generation of interaction analytics is developing pathways / relationships that accurately predict the potential for a specific behavior based on a word, a phrase, tone of voice, and more. These neural networks are built by ingesting mass amounts of data, and learning from the data as it creates a supremely accurate model for predicting that behavior.

What does it all mean?

As businesses are faced with increasing pressure to become more efficient, so increases the demand for more intelligent solutions. For Contact Centers, this is an ever growing challenge as customer engagement no longer occurs only over the phone. From speech, to emails, to web chat, to surveys, to social media, each and every interaction is important. In turn, it’s important to find an analytics tool, like Nexidia Analytics, capable of organizing, analyzing and operationalizing interactions in  way that allows contact centers to become more proactive in their approach to customer engagement…before it’s too late.