Walk into a party early and suddenly realize that it’s only you and Bill Gates in the room. Congratulations – on average, you are a billionaire!

This logical twist underscores how averages can be misleading indicators – how using averages can lead to some poor conclusions.

However, Bill Gates and you do have the same amount of one thing: Time. You’re both constrained by 24 hour days, 7 day weeks, and 365 day years. With all his wealth, Bill still hasn’t found a way to bend the space-time continuum. (Although he has made some great charitable contributions.)

Time is the most critical consideration in any undertaking.

Time is the most critical consideration in any undertaking. A process may produce wonderful results – but if it takes too long to get there – people may never exhibit the patience to take the journey.

Similarly, time is the most critical element in any customer care scenario. Almost every innovation in contact centers technology in the last 40 years was designed to attack the issue of time savings. Computer-Telephony Integration, Interactive Voice Response, advanced routing – you name it.  Time and its cousin cost – were the two primary motivating factors.

The next wave of innovations is well underway. This time, the means to the end is an exciting new array of capabilities lumped into a category called “bots, AI, and machine learning.” These are critical set of enablers that deliver a true “next generation” customer experience.

Here’s how they fit in the customer-care equation:

  • Bots: A broad set of capabilities that automate and assist with routine tasks for search, discovery, and interaction. They save time for customers and lower costs of operations.
  • AI: A set of capabilities that emulates cognitive functions in humans. AI will be embedded into bots to make interactions natural.
  • Machine Learning: The ability for software to adapt without outside programming. This will speed improvements in customer-facing applications.

Earlier this month, Cisco announced its intent to acquire AI startup MindMeld, which “helps businesses to build conversational interfaces with cloud-based service.”

The most powerful question a person can ask another is “How may I help you?” It’s a “bot” time customer care started by asking that question also! (Stay tuned.)

Read more about Cisco’s acquisition of MindMeld in Rowan Trollope’s recent post.


Zack Taylor


Cisco Global Collaboration