How to Embrace AI and Its Role In Channel Businesses

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Businesses are deploying Artificial Intelligence (AI) in a variety of ways to bolster efficiencies, better utilise resources and decrease operating costs.

With ongoing advancements, this technology has quickly become a critical tool for organisations – and this is no different for companies working in the Technology Channel.

Channel businesses are experimenting with AI to improve and streamline their overall operations, and we expect to see adoption rates increase further as we move into 2024.

The role AI plays in Channel businesses today

AI is already transforming the way that companies in the Channel enhance their customer experience across all touchpoints. Research from Forbes highlighted that nearly two-thirds of business owners believe that AI will improve customer relationships, with AI-powered chatbots, customer relationship management and personalised services all examples of this.

By using AI, Channel businesses can take advantage of new ways to improve their operation efficiency. By using AI to analyse vast amounts of data, Channel businesses can redirect valuable resources toward other critical areas of the organisation, such as training and development for staff. This is vital as reports show that 86% of employees feel they need upskilling in AI best practices. AI eliminates the risk of human error and reduces the workforce needed to perform specific repetitive tasks, allowing Channel businesses to relieve pressure on more pressing parts of the business.

The risks vs. rewards

In addition to bolstering the customer experience, AI can enable Channel businesses to increase their productivity with the ability to make faster business decisions using data insights. These AI algorithms can be leveraged to detect patterns, predict customer preferences and generate quality leads that will grow an organisation’s customer base and identify new sales opportunities over time.

Data analysis using AI has risen in popularity, in fact, many industry experts now fear ChatGPT 3’s LLM (Large Language Models) might move data analysts toward a different future. Not only can AI reduce operational costs for data analysis, but it can also eliminate simple human errors. By automating processes like data analysis, Channel businesses can find potential pinch points in their sales and marketing efforts, and work to bridge these gaps with the help of their team.

The internet is littered with false information. Open source LLM scraping is indiscriminate, whether the data collected and analysed is correct is undetermined. If a Channel business decides to use AI, particularly generative AI, all information presented must be verified independently. In addition, AI platforms like Chat GPT use information input to learn. For a business in the Technology Channel dealing with sensitive information, a security breach can often manifest. Channel businesses must consider these risks before employing or inputting information into AI tools.

AI development is accelerating at an exponential rate and companies are struggling to keep pace with emerging technologies. Given its speed and cost, businesses are finding it difficult to find the resources to fund the development process. However, a bespoke AI platform can provide businesses with a first-point-of-call solution that allows them to employ human interference, only when necessary, while ensuring all information provided is verified.

Furthermore, Channel businesses can track and chart customer behaviours and preferences more accurately than ever using AI. This technology can subsequently be used to surmise the products and services that might appeal to specific customers, deploying company resources to the most viable avenues. What’s more, businesses can combine their market research with AI to ensure they offer the right services to the right people and find
opportunities to upsell by bundling multiple products and services.

Whilst many Channel leaders see the benefits of using AI, there are growing concerns around transparency, accountability and privacy. As a result, companies are bringing together employees and AI tools to achieve greater performance improvements. With this in mind, businesses must consider and address the increasing concern of employees who are worried about their coexistence with AI.

Channel businesses looking to adopt new AI systems must also take into account the impact this technology can have on their wider operations. Many organisations, especially those that are technology-driven, thrive on their culture, meaning they must consider the longer-term risks. While automation and emerging technologies often create as many job opportunities as they displace, using AI for most IT and production-based tasks can leave existing workers feeling demotivated, burned out and insecure in their jobs.

AI must be approached with caution. Businesses planning to use this technology as a direct replacement will find itself without its core – a human touch. Completely dehumanising sectors like customer service and forward business planning, negate human instinct and the invaluable skills that employees offer. The world’s biggest companies were created, and led by people – replacing workers in this way discredits their work, problem-solving skills, and critical thinking capabilities. It is a Channel business’s main aim to provide a positive customer experience and utilising employees’ strengths is the best way to ensure this.

Looking to the future with AI

AI adoption is growing at an exponential rate, with the UK’s AI market valued at over $20 billion, and is expected to add $1 trillion to the UK economy by 2035. Set to reach a global economic contribution of $15.7 trillion by 2030, AI could evolve from the most talked about technology into the most important and influential one in our lifetimes. Taking into account the pace AI has gained over the past five years, it is unlikely that we can fully grasp the benefits the technology could offer to us in the future, today.

The Technology Channel, like many sectors, is open to the new opportunities AI brings. Channel leaders will likely already be informed of the impacts this technology might have, and are formulating action plans for how they can embrace it in the future. Ultimately, when used successfully, AI can enhance a Channel business’ operations. Ensuring they protect their employees’ livelihoods by safeguarding their jobs and using AI to streamline their workload, not lighten it, only then can the business move forward with using AI. Under strict control, AI makes processes quicker and leaner, but it shouldn’t be used as a lifejacket for a sinking business. By adopting the mindset that AI is a replacement rather than a tool, a Channel business only risks losing its people.