The Human Factor - When Human and Artificial Intelligence Combine, the Future is Bright

Have you ever argued with an automated phone system, even though you knew it was pointless? Good news- humans still have their place amongst the machines and you can use this to your advantage.

We are happy to see there is a movement to include the human aspect in commerce again. There has been a push to include more technology to streamline business operations, leaving many people to wonder where all the people have gone.

Artificial intelligence is most effective when there is a clear goal. It is great at gathering data and quickly providing insights. AI can help with product recommendations, order frequency suggestions, and reminders, and inventory management, to name just a few areas. In short, it helps everything run more quickly and more efficiently. However, while artificial intelligence obviously has its place in a myriad of objective tasks, there is still a gap that only humans can properly fill.

When goals are not clearly defined, or when brand image comes into play, human intelligence is winning. AI can make decisions, but not subjective choices. Humans, on the other hand, are still the best at judging intangibles and superlatives amongst options that are objectively equal.

Further, humans have the unique ability to empathize with other humans. These days, customer service can be very scripted and cold, focusing on the bottom line and keeping calls moving, so the companies with a more authentic response stand out.

Differentiation with Humans

Offering authentic human interaction is a great way to gain competitive advantage in the current market. These four areas are still crying out for biological involvement and your business can differentiate itself by dedicating human staff to these aspects

Customer service is one department that benefits in a big way from the human factor. By offering phone and/or chat service with human attendants, your business stands out from the others. After all, when a customer has a question or need that can't be plotted in a chart, they don't want to fight an automated system to resolve the issue.

Inventory management is a perfect place for machine intelligence. Using sensors and scanners, drones can easily scan through a store or a warehouse and collect data, analyzing the most efficient replenishment schedule. However, if a SKU is not in its correct place or cannot be located, a human is needed to locate or adjust the results. Warehouses that combine human and machine efforts are more efficient than those using just one method.

Personal connections are still made between human parties, rather than between machine to human participants. Many consumers, particularly GenZ and Millennials, are looking for bona fide connections with the brands they support. The best way to cultivate this engagement is with the human touch. Customers still read reviews and look for real people's feedback prior to making a purchase. Social media is more important than ever for businesses, particularly small and medium-sized companies struggling to increase their market shares.

Localism is back in style. People are focusing more on supporting local businesses to reduce waste and increase sustainability, plus forge more meaningful relationships as customers. This has a high longterm value, not just for businesses, but for our environment and our collective emotional health. Consumers who focus locally are loyal to their preferred businesses because they value the relationships. They want and expect to continue doing business with the same companies, rather than simply shop based on price or impulse. Local supply chains waste less money and fuel, helping to curb environmental damages. And creating real relationships grounds us in our local communities and just makes us feel more connected and satisfied. If your business has a local presence, use it as an advantage by focusing marketing on maintaining, improving, and expanding your local reach.

Automation as an Option

For some businesses, using a completely automated fulfillment process is a time saver that can't be beat. But those that offer customers a more human touch often need to push through special orders or requests, changes, and customized responses. Top logistic providers offer automated fulfillment with an option to speak with a live human to make changes or requests. This marriage of human and machine allows for the best of both worlds.

Trend spotters advise watching for the growing trend of humans and machines working together seamlessly in a so-called no-collar workforce, the greater influence of AI, the emergence of edge computing, the ongoing impact of internet of things (IoT) and industrial internet of things (IIoT), and the continuing importance of big data. But notice, the humans have been gaining ground and most experts do not predict that machines will outright replace humans.

On the Record

As this movement develops, here's what experts are saying about keeping the humans involved.

“Notwithstanding sky-is-falling predictions, robotics, cognitive, and artificial intelligence (AI) will probably not displace most human workers.” -Deloitte Insights

“Real people, no tickets” -Dan Cence, CEO @SprocketExpress

“Let’s turn our backs on artificial intelligence [and] focus on human intelligence.” -Michele Levine, CEO of Roy Morg

“Man-machine augmentation is the sweet spot, combining human and artificial intelligence to enable better informed and more intelligent decision-making.” -Mihir Kittur, @MCMerchant

“Will robot teachers replace human teachers? No, but they can complement them.” -Donald A. Norman

“Some people call this artificial intelligence, but the reality is this technology will enhance us. So instead of artificial intelligence, I think we'll augment our intelligence.” -Ginni Rometty


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