Brent Kelly
Brent Kelly is president and principal analyst at KelCor, Inc., where he provides strategy and counsel to key client types...
Read Full Bio >>

Brent Kelly | February 20, 2018 |


The 'Scary Side' of AI

The 'Scary Side' of AI Some say artificial intelligence is evil; others worry about AI replacing them. Is it scary to you?

Some say artificial intelligence is evil; others worry about AI replacing them. Is it scary to you?

According to Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX as well as chairman at SolarCity, artificial intelligence (AI) is a "fundamental risk to the existence of human civilization," and "if you are not concerned about AI safety, you should be. [It is] vastly more risk than North Korea."

So, is AI safe? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

The potential for job disruption is another area of considerable AI concern. In a 2013 study, University of Oxford researchers estimated that 47% of total U.S. employment is at risk because of "computerization." (Computerization, according to these authors, is about job automation by means of computer-controlled equipment. Clearly some of this computerization comes from AI technology.

More recently, in a 2017 study, McKinsey suggested that "half of today's work activities could be automated by 2055, but this could happen up to 20 years earlier or later depending on the various factors, in addition to other wider economic conditions.... Activities most susceptible to automation involve physical activities in highly structured and predictable environments, as well as the collection and processing of data. In the United States, these activities make up 51% of activities in the economy." The study looked at the potential global economic impacts of data and analytics, automation, and AI.

About half of the activities for which people are paid almost $15 trillion in wages globally have the potential to be automated. (Source: McKinsey)

Earlier this year, the Socio-economic Planning Secretary of the Philippines stated that the entire business process outsourcing industry (read outsourced call centers) in the Philippines, or approximately 900,000 workers, is in danger of being wiped out because of speech-automated processes and bots.

Is AI and the automation it cultivates going to wipe half of the jobs in the U.S. and many abroad?

Probably not. The previously referenced McKinsey study also stated, "More occupations will change than will be automated away." The implication is that we should expect to see significant workforce disruption in the next 20 to 30 years because of AI and automation, but the experts differ on whether this will be dire for entire countries and certain unskilled segments of a population, or generally a good thing for entire countries and their economies.

As AI begins to enter the communications industry, we should probably ask whether there's cause for alarm -- or optimism, or both.

The first wave of AI automation in our industry began with the use of natural language processing (NLP), primarily in bots, call center audio, and text processing, but also in some advanced multichannel sentiment analysis capabilities. In fact, you'll find many of these capabilities exhibited in products found on the show floor at the upcoming Enterprise Connect 2018 expo, and discussed in numerous educational sessions on speech processing, sentiment analysis, and NLP at the conference.

A second wave of AI automation is now entering in the form of business-focused intelligent assistants (offered by IBM and Cisco, most notably) and some higher-order cognitive capabilities targeted toward improving individual agent and overall contact center performance. This second wave relies not just on the data found in the contact center or the CRM system, but in a host of other data sources now available (see my January No Jitter post for more details). We are seeing these kinds of systems from Afiniti, eGain, Genesys, IBM Watson, Salesforce, Spoken (now Avaya),, and a number of other players marketing productivity tools for collaboration workforces and the contact center.

Given these developments, you have to ask yourself how much you need to know and understand about AI, and perhaps, just at a high level, how it works. A November 2017 No Jitter survey asked this question. A surprising 27% of enterprise IT respondents indicated that knowing about AI is important for their career advancement.

No Jitter survey data suggesting that 27% of our peers already believe AI is important for career advancement.

To help you better understand AI and how it may impact you and your organization, I'm inviting you to attend the premier session at Enterprise Connect on AI: "Understanding AI – Beyond the Hype." In the first half of this 75-minute Tuesday afternoon session, an AI tutorial will help you understand what machine learning is and how it works, what deep learning is, how and where AI is intersecting with the communications space, how bots work, and how some of the deeper cognitive functions coupled with big data are entering the contact center space. In the second half, a stimulating panel discussion with representatives from Afiniti, Genesys, IBM, Microsoft, and Salesforce will address the subject of AI in a communications context and take your questions.

Automation is generally perceived as a societal benefit because it has ultimately created more jobs than it destroys, and in the end, it eventually lifts society as a whole. But is AI different? Will AI automate faster than workers in society can be trained to do new jobs? A 2015 McKinsey Global Institute study stated, "compared with the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, ... disruption of society is happening ten times faster and at 300 times the scale. That means roughly 3000 times the impact."

So where does all of this lead us? To Enterprise Connect where you can come and engage with experts from companies making products and services for our industry: from AI-based personal assistants to speech recognition tools to bots to deep cognitive solutions for contact centers. This is one session you shouldn't miss at EC18. It will help you decide for yourself whether or not AI will prove scary to you!

Learn more about Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Analytics at Enterprise Connect 2018, March 12 to 15, in Orlando, Fla. Register now using the code NOJITTER to save an additional $200 off the Regular Rate or get a free Expo Plus pass.


October 24, 2018

With disparate workplaces and ever-expanding volumes of information to manage, the challenges for collaborating effectively are only intensifying. Many critical applications are not integrated, and

October 10, 2018

Businesses are growing across international borders quicker than ever, but scaling operations to follow suit can be a harder, longer process.

This webinar focuses on scaling your next-generat

September 26, 2018

Join Kevin Kieller, Microsoft UC&C expert, along with Ribbon Communications and Polycom, for an update on Microsoft Ignite, and a focus on critical things you need to know about your voice deployme

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.