There is nothing hotter in either the tech or startup space than artificial intelligence and with that comes a consistent painful question. What effect will AI and automation have on employment? The media loves to sensationalize this topic, claiming we’ll all be unemployed in a decade. As a company delivering cognitive care (AI-powered customer service) to large enterprises for over 3 years, Wysdom.AI has a unique view of the impact this technical evolution is having on businesses, and specifically support jobs in the telecommunications industry.

There is no shortage of analysts predicting what effect AI and automation may have on this job market, both today and 5-10 years from now. However, there is very little actual evidence from the inside of this industry. Here is what we are seeing as AI rolls out at some of the world’s largest telecommunications companies.

The truth is, regardless of what effect it may have jobs and employment, customers want to use their preferred channels to access customer service. Channels like Facebook, Twitter, web chat, and mobile apps are taking over as the primary customer service contact methods. In the past 10 years, we witnessed customers clamoring to use new channels to contact and interact with brands. The proliferation of choice in modern communications has changed the way consumers think when it comes to contacting anyone or anything, let alone brands and institutions.

The research backs it up – Mary Meeker’s most recent report shows that almost 90 percent of customers would choose something other than the phone to contact a brand for customer service if they had a choice. Unfortunately, they rarely do. So, consumer appetites have clearly evolved from phoning brands to having digital conversations – but what company has the manpower to deliver individual conversations with millions of its customers? In real time?

Customers realize this too, which ushers in the need for AI in this space. AI is a powerful tool which can satisfy this customer need, learn from every interaction, and provide the fast and effective answers customers want. The beauty of an AI solution is it’s always available, doesn’t have any volume limits, is immediately available and it constantly evolves, educating itself based on customer interaction. Given the customer hunger for this consistent and effective method of digital care, companies can’t afford to ignore the power and potential of an AI solution.

From our experience with large enterprise clients over the past few years, our educated guess is within 5 years, 80 percent of all enterprise customer questions will be answered by an AI solution. And that’s a conservative estimate, we may reach much higher numbers. This will obviously have a major impact on customer service roles in enterprise?

Think about this example: at just one large US company, that would equate to over 50,000 jobs lost. There are millions of roles just like this around the world which are in jeopardy of vanishing, not just in the Philippines and India or other locales you associate with call centers and support. In North America alone there are hundreds of thousands of call center jobs, and 80 percent are at immediate risk with this new technology.

Fortunately for everyone, this isn’t the end of this story. 

Stay tuned for Part 2: No Jobs Will Be Lost To AI In Customer Service, But The Nature Of  Job And Industry Will Change

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