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Why 2024 will be the year of the AI assistant

By , Director of Solution Engineering, Salesforce South Africa.
24 Jan 2024
Linda Saunders, Director of Solution Engineering, Salesforce South Africa.
Linda Saunders, Director of Solution Engineering, Salesforce South Africa.

Over the coming 12 months, generative AI will drive transformation across all industries, boosting efficiency and productivity. Tailoring and personalising customer interactions faster and at scale, workers are quickly realising the benefits.

In fact, 68% of workers say generative AI will help them better serve customers, and employees estimate it will save them an average of five hours each week.

That said, 73% of employees believe generative AI introduces new security risks, underscoring the need for organisations to leverage generative AI technologies built with trust first.

Understanding how to integrate intuitive AI assistants into workflows with unified data and build trust amongst organisations will be essential.

The next wave of AI assistants

We’re moving to a copilot world, with AI assistants proactively taking actions on our behalf. As super-powered collaborators, these tools are delivering intelligence across automations, sharing knowledge, providing conversation summaries, and drafting content for emails, product descriptions, marketing materials, and more. All this is empowering employees to streamline their workflows and maximise output.

The latest annual McKinsey Global Survey on the state of AI confirms the explosive growth of generative AI tools; one-third of respondents say their organisations are using generative AI regularly in at least one business function.

With enhanced AI search capabilities, this will answer complex prompts and provide smart suggestions by tapping into real-time business data, including unstructured data, such as transcripts and documents, and structured data, such as product inventory or purchase history.

According to Slack’s State of Work research, individuals adopting AI are 90% more likely to report higher levels of productivity. Yet, just 27% of companies currently use AI tools to help increase efficiency. Those who use automation at work estimate saving an average of 3.6 hours a week; this equates to at least one working month a year given back to each employee to focus on meaningful work.

Take customer call centre leaders, for instance. Using unstructured data and AI, teams can automatically compare customer cases and identify those that are similar in their intent. They can trigger automated flows that alert case owners if a new case is a potential duplicate, allowing for quick identification of similar cases, thereby reducing case resolution time and improving the overall customer experience.

Many marketing professionals are already using generative AI to transform how they connect with their customers by powering more automated and effective campaigns quickly and at scale. In addition to targeting basics like content creation and writing copy, they’re transforming the way they analyse data, personalise messaging content, and optimise search engine optimisation (SEO) strategies.

To add to this, marketers can also tailor their campaigns based on consumer intent and behaviour. When building a campaign, a marketer can use AI to understand consumer intent by analysing unstructured survey data and transcripts.

The real power of this technology is when AI can analyse and act on the most valuable data from a company’s most trusted resource, helping teams work smarter and make informed decisions faster.

The AI revolution will be underpinned by both data and trust

The AI revolution promises to make our lives much easier by eliminating mundane tasks and helping us become more productive. However, AI is only as good as the data it leverages.

With the quantity of data set to grow, turning size into value requires building a data-driven business culture - weaving data into the organisation’s operations, mindset, and identity.

Einstein Copilot and Copilot Search will also be capable of accessing unstructured data by leveraging the Data Cloud Vector Database that unifies all business data, including unstructured and structured data.

When integrated and leveraged correctly, unified data enables companies to maximise their technology investments and uncover opportunities that drive business strategy and strengthen customer trust.

We can’t unlock the promise of AI without being able to trust what it generates. To prepare for the next era of AI assistants, it is imperative that businesses take steps to protect individuals, build trust, and encourage innovation. This can be done by focusing on communicating transparently how AI is used and making it clear that their employees — not technology — are in the driver’s seat.

In 2024, AI trust will continue to be questioned, and a specific focus will be on AI safety and government approaches to establish trusted AI frameworks.

It’s not just about asking more of AI. We need to ask more of each other—our governments, businesses, and civil society—to harness the power of AI in safe, responsible ways.

At Salesforce, we don’t have all the answers, but we understand that leading with trust and transparency is the best path forward.

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