When the Internet became popular in the mid-1990’s, it heralded the Fourth Age of industry. Unrelated aspects of daily life that previously required a human being to connect and decide upon, could be connected through the internet, with AI to manage.
Massive Impact on Efficiency
Consider the impact on the sales industry. At first, automation allowed for the robo-calls, a faster way to contact potential customers. However, there was still a human element that had to collect the data. In the Fourth Age, what once relied on human perseverance, resulting in long hours and days or weeks, can now be done far more efficiently with AI.
Algorithms can be set to automatically contact old leads, find the best contacts for cold-calls based on successful leads, and predict the best discount to offer when trying to close the deal. Sales AI can track what has worked and what hasn’t, across the whole network; recommend the best discount, volume, or lead time; and even close the deal. Now, pull the microscope back and see all sales functions set in motion from this process across all regions…the impact of AI is massive.
With predictive capabilities, AI defines a new Age by reducing the need for human intervention in many aspects of daily life. Now, an AI ChatBot can replace a human on the other end of a customer service interface.
Customers ask questions or register complaints about a product using an on-line chat feature, and with an advanced AI on the other end, the user may never know that they’re talking to a computer. An added bonus, AI allows 24/7 communication. In the new Age of AI, questions or sales request are ‘round the clock, even answered at 2am, all by a pre-programmed algorithm.
As a result, customer service communication volumes skyrocket—and the need to maintain a 3rd shift or off-shore customer service team all but disappears.
Connected, Interworking, and Overarching
Whereas the Third-Age of industry introduced automation and robots, the Fourth-Age connects them to one another. In a manufacturing environment, a robot is no longer programmed to just do the same repetitive motion again and again; it is programmed to enact order-specific actions, based on an order number, part type given by the previous robot, or any number of other criteria.
And, whole systems of automation from disparate locations come together within an AI program to allow coordination. If a customer places an order, an AI system can receive, process, and fulfill that order without any human interference. Whereas automation improved capabilities within single steps of a factory, AI weaves the automation together into one, overarching and coordinated system.
As we progress into the Fourth Age of Industry, we’ll continue to see the ways that AI can connect and interconnect automation, re-defining the possibilities.