Discussions of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Virtual Reality ( VR) inevitably evoke descriptive images of a room full of gamers. But, AI and VR will change the way you communicate and do business. This post comes from the perspective of Montserrat Corominas Founder & Managing Partner at Intergroup Partners.Zürich, Switzerland

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT? KEY OBSERVATIONS

Most business leaders are not quite sure yet how AI and VR are relevant to their companies and what is in it for them.

  • Is it about an accurate context driven sensor?
  • Is it a fast data algorithm driving interactions in the background?
  • Is it a new strange type of wearable or "personalized object"?
  • Or, is it a Bot?

To my understanding, these are only contemporary descriptions of state of the art technologies. The most important topic to discuss for boards, founders and management teams in regards to AI/VR is the inherent new way of communication through digitization. Thought leaders must be aware of this rapidly moving topic.

A great example of the communications shift brought by AI is in the mass adoption of Chatbots. These conversational interfaces are already being widely implemented across different industries and have the potential to disrupt the Apps business. Communication can now happen on our behalf. If you are wondering about what a Chatbot is: If you have ever played a computer game, in a sense, you have used a Chatbot. You used an app which you interacted with, which followed a script and shared with you a result.

VR is disruptive primarily as it will create new ways of communication. The implications for businesses are clear: the global liquid workforce can enter a collaborative, immersive virtual environment no matter where they are. We are on the cusp of achieving the peak conversational interface; from the use of the telephone, to video-share, to almost complete replication of face-to-face conversation. Ironically enough, the first words spoken across a telephone in 1876 by Alexander Graham Bell to his assistant Thomas A. Watson were, "Mr. Watson, come here - I want to see you."

We already have customers in Europe like Digitalstrom using current AI/VR available technologies in their customer interactive smart home solutions; as well as UBIMAX which is manufacturing and marketing wearable solution technology to increase business process efficiencies. Businesses must understand this digital technology is relevant to them and leaders must act now or risk being left behind.

HOW TO ACT

From this digital evolution, we are likely to see the way we use the Internet change.

In order for this fundamental communication shift to happen, there is a lot of work to be done, as businesses must learn to create intelligence out of conversations instead of focusing solely on efficient operations. The most immediate consequences of this shift in communication are that:

  • Apps may start to disappear over time
  • Websites are less important; the information shared on websites will be stored in the Cloud and accessed by services that need it
  • As a result of AI, communication will improve as relevant information will be easier to find for Internet users

Thought leaders can evolve to stay on top of this shift by understanding and following these key topics:

  • Consider the customer communication layer as part of your product success (e.g. Alexa by Amazon, Sonos, Google home)
  • Monitor the way AI bots are developed and implemented; from Chatbots (e.g. Slack), to bots in interactively learning appliances (e.g. digitalStrom, Whirlpool), and to bots in automotive from areas of R&D (e.g. Honda) to car sharing applications (e.g. Car2go, Drivenow)
  • Keep a watchful eye on AI & VR global public policy and regulatory issues

As the interface between humans and computers is rapidly changing from an "operational" interface (Websites, apps) to a "conversational" interface (Chatbot, voice interfaces), leaders must evolve with this change. The shift in communication should not be viewed as a challenge, but as a great opportunity. This change will improve lives for our personal and business connections, as change always implies new business opportunities and models to explore. As always, those leaders who are flexible to change will be best positioned to take advantage of digitization.

Published on: Jan 3, 2017