Unified communications (UC) systems and services increasingly integrate into other network applications, enhancing their overall value and importance. This advancement of UC services impacts the level of complexity involved in their coordination, configuration, integration and operation.
Artificial intelligence (AI) in unified communications is exceptionally well suited to simplify this complexity by implementing smart processes and algorithms to manage these inherent intricacies.
In this article, we explore some of the practical applications of AI within UC, examining functionalities that some have already implemented and some capabilities that we expect in the near and not-so-near future.
AI in unified communications
AI is the simulation of human intelligence in machines that are programmed to think and learn like humans. It encompasses a variety of technologies, including machine learning, natural language processing, and robotics, enabling these machines to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence.
In the context of UC, AI enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of communications systems by automating tasks, analyzing data, and facilitating more intuitive interactions between users and technology. It can optimize network operations, provide personalized user experiences, and improve decision-making processes through advanced data analysis and predictive modeling.
The rest of this article lays out examples that help to shed light on how AI is quickly becoming an integral part of UC systems. These fall into several categories: contact centers, video collaboration, voice system applications and UC equipment.
Contact center and customer support use cases
AI can enhance customer service in a variety of ways:
- Automated customer support and service: AI can be integrated into telephony systems to provide 24/7 automated customer support. This involves using chatbots and voice assistants that can understand and respond to customer queries, schedule appointments, and offer basic troubleshooting. This improves customer experience and reduces the workload on human support staff.
- Call routing and management: AI can analyze incoming calls in real time, determining the nature of the call and the caller’s intent. It can then intelligently route the call to the most appropriate department, an individual, or even an automated assistant. This improves efficiency by reducing call handling times and ensuring the right person or system connects with customers for their needs.
- Speech analytics and sentiment analysis: AI can transcribe and analyze voice communications, extracting valuable insights about customer interactions. This includes sentiment analysis to gauge customer satisfaction and emotion during calls and speech analytics to identify trends, common issues or areas for improvement in products or services.
- Personalized communications: AI can tailor communications based on customer history and preferences. For instance, when a customer calls, the AI system can pull up the customer’s history and provide personalized service based on past interactions. This improves the customer experience, helping build customer loyalty.
Video collaboration and remote meeting use cases
While many people might not think of AI when considering videoconferencing, it is actually having a significant impact on this field:
- Automated meeting summaries and action items: AI can analyze the content of a meeting to generate summaries and identify key action items. This feature is invaluable for ensuring follow-ups and maintaining the continuity of projects, especially in fast-paced work environments.
- Smart scheduling and calendar management: AI can assist in scheduling meetings by analyzing participants’ calendars, time zones, and preferences to find the most suitable time slots. It can also send reminders and follow-ups to ensure high attendance and proper preparation.
- Enhanced interactive whiteboards and brainstorming tools: AI can integrate with digital whiteboards to transcribe handwritten notes, suggest ideas, or provide data-driven insights during brainstorming sessions. This enhances the collaborative experience, especially for remote teams.
- Additional meeting enhancements: AI can improve the overall quality of a meeting by providing features like background noise suppression, real-time language translation and subtitling, facial recognition, virtual backgrounds, and even automatic lighting adjustments.
Voice services use cases
Voice services can benefit from AI in various ways, including optimizing the network to support voice traffic and aspects affecting the voice service itself.
VoIP network optimization and quality of service
There are several potential applications here:
- Predictive maintenance and troubleshooting: AI can monitor network conditions and predict potential issues before they impact service quality. This preemptive approach to maintenance can significantly reduce downtime and improve overall service reliability.
- Dynamic call routing based on network conditions: AI can optimize call routing in real time based on network performance data and reroute calls to ensure the best possible quality, even under fluctuating network conditions.
- Fraud detection and security: In business telephony, you can use AI to enhance security by detecting unusual call patterns or identifying fraudulent activities. For example, it can flag if an account is being accessed from an unusual location or if there’s a sudden spike in international calls, which could indicate a security breach.
Voice service applications
Advanced call analytics can include facets like emotion and stress analysis, where AI algorithms can analyze the tone, pitch, and speed of a speaker’s voice to infer emotional state or stress levels. This can be invaluable for internal team communications, helping managers understand team morale or identify when team members might be under undue stress.
AI can also provide real-time analytics on conversations, highlighting important topics, keywords and customer sentiments. This can be useful for sales and marketing teams to understand client needs better and tailor their strategies accordingly.
When it comes to the hardware side of things, AI can save valuable time by scouring legal documents and warranty agreements to quickly answer questions like, "Is my product still under warranty?" or, "Is this incident covered?"
AI can also assist in troubleshooting IP PBX configurations when telephony equipment is not functioning properly. Some examples include.
- Automated diagnostics: AI can run automated diagnostic tests to identify common issues in IP PBX systems, such as connectivity problems, misconfigurations, or hardware malfunctions.
- Pattern recognition: AI algorithms can analyze logs and past incidents to recognize patterns that might indicate specific problems. This can be particularly useful in identifying issues that are not immediately obvious to human technicians.
- Predictive maintenance: By analyzing trends and usage patterns, AI can predict potential failures or issues before they occur, allowing for proactive maintenance and reducing downtime.
- Natural language processing (NLP): AI-powered chatbots or virtual assistants can guide users through troubleshooting steps using natural language, making the process more user-friendly, especially for those without technical expertise.
- Optimization suggestions: AI can suggest configuration changes to optimize system performance based on usage patterns and existing configurations.
- Leveraging other technologies: AI systems can integrate with other tools and platforms used for network management and monitoring, providing a more comprehensive approach to troubleshooting.
- Learning and adaptation: Over time, AI systems can learn from solved cases, becoming more efficient in diagnosing and suggesting solutions for new issues.
Of course, while AI can significantly aid in troubleshooting, it can't resolve all issues and human expertise remains crucial.
The integration of AI in unified communications systems is revolutionizing how organizations communicate and collaborate, offering unprecedented efficiency and enhanced user experiences.
This technological advancement streamlines communication processes while opening new avenues for improved customer engagement, team collaboration, and business intelligence, positioning AI as an indispensable asset in the modern communications landscape.
And this is only the beginning: The future holds many more exciting developments in the innovative fusion of UC and AI!
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