Artificial Intelligence: The new way to be the leaders in innovation for the Public Sector
Updated: Sep 15
The NHS almost relies on a degree of slave labour to make it work
Imagine there was a solution that increased productivity, decreased pressures and gave information in seconds.
The AI we created is founded on the world-class technology and achieves these three things all at once. We designed it to support our public sector, transforming the way local councils, universities and NHS trusts engage with users.
Artificial Intelligence is a technology created by humans for humans, and within the tech world is thought to be one of the most important functions emerging.
Within our modern world, most people already use AI in their everyday lives, but have little to no idea how it works. So, what is it? And how can it serve us?
In its simplest form, Conversational Artificial Intelligence is a technology that bridges the gap between human and computer language allowing natural communication between them.
Think, Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google Home; they are all sophisticated AI products. And they are leading the AI pack, so to speak, thanks to the sheer quantity of people who use them and therefore improve them.
Labelled as "the next wave of customer and employee experiences" by Deloitte, Conversational AI allows human-like interaction when humans aren’t available or necessary, be that in the middle of the night, or when humans are urgently needed somewhere else.
In the medical world we have seen huge demands and pressures with the coronavirus pandemic. The strain on the NHS is dubbed as the reason for national lockdowns.
Consultant Cardiac and Transplant Surgeon at University Hospital Birmingham and Chief Innovation Officer at ICS.AI, Neil Howell, shared how conversational AI could be the future of our NHS: "As a doctor, I’ve just taken the time out to reflect, and realised, there just has to be a better way than this. You’ve got six nurses on a shift and all six of them are on a computer or on a phone. That’s not why they went into nursing."
The admin pressure is the root of the problem. "We have lots of very clever and hardworking junior doctors and nurses doing lots of really basic, clerical work that no other sector would ask its staff to do," he explained. "You would find ways of automating these tasks, but no one in the NHS has ever bothered. So, who cares if they stay till midnight, they’re not being paid, why should we make it better?" He added, describing the attitudes.
This is wrong. There are so many clerical processes, in hospitals in particular, that we could automate. Surfacing knowledge to patients and staff could be a lot easier than intranet searches.
Martin Neale, CEO of ICS.AI, also shared his views on the future of Artificial Intelligence within the workplace and how he believes it can benefit society:
"I think within five years, conversational AI will be the standard way we engage with and within organisations. Why? The coronavirus has accelerated the desire for everybody to interact digitally. A huge quantity of capabilities that weren't previously available become and must become available. It inevitably increases complexity. Quantity and choice is generally at the heart of complexity."
As the world digitises, and people require access to online services at an increasing speed, many local authorities are beginning to see the benefits of chatbots. Telford and Wrekin and Southampton City councils have already implemented the software to assist with the growing engagement demand.
And from the perspective of the service providers, conversational AI reduces the need for agents to repeat monotonous tasks, providing customers with instant help 24/7. Need real-life proof? Southampton council automated 30,000 queries over just some weeks since go live.
James Marshall, Head of Customer and Communications at Southampton City Council talked about how their AI Assistant can also be beneficial internally, "Agents use it now to help with questions that might be outside their skill area. I often see it used on the floor. While on the phone, for example, they type out verbatim what the customer is asking and see what the bot comes back with to, in the end, provide better answers.’
ICS.AI's CEO agrees with this notion of the broad usage scope of this technology. "Something that was a manual process becomes automated." he said. "An AI assistant sits there as you navigate, and communicates to all the capabilities on your behalf. Having an intermediary between you and the complexity is really what conversational AI does. We are using the term: If you can say it, you can do it, to bring that to light."
A common theme when discussing Artificial Intelligence is the fear that surrounds it. If we allow a piece of technology to take over our everyday lives, what happens with control?
I think there’s a lot of emotion around the topic, for sure. But, if you are trying to strip this away to hard facts, go to the experts. McKinsey & Company are the most respected in the field. They have done a very detailed paper showing net job creation, not net job reduction caused by AI. Fascinating, isn't it? We need this data-based approach to see all the opportunities that AI promises. And to use them in the best way we can.
We have to acknowledge that whilst these technologies can automate a lot, they can’t automate everything. Humans have always searched for technologies to make their work easier. 20%, 50% or maybe even 60% of what humans do can become automated, but that just mean humans can dedicate their skills and time to things machines can't.
We cannot forget about the human talent required in the world of tech, to quote Elon Musk: "People are really underestimated."
When asked about fear surrounding AI, he explained, "people aren’t aware of how limited AI is. What it can do is interesting, but when people get worried about AI what they’re getting worried about is something that doesn’t exist – they’re getting worried about the robots – this technology is at least a generation and a few new discoveries short of being able to do anything like that. None of what you see on the films is realistic."
If the technology is there to better our world and save resources, and the ‘fears’ are merely that, we must not let them obscure the view. With our youth full of tech wizards and fast-paced online learners, the future will clearly be designed to be digital. But what about the other generations? Those that remember the time before internet and don't feel up to speed with the modern technology just yet? To keep us all equally connected, AI must be designed with accessibility and easy UX in mind.
With ICS.AI using the familiar text layout, seamlessly taking users to other pages or forms, the assistant may be easier to navigate than a traditional intranet site.
As well as excellent user experience, the idea of AI Channel shift is something our team at ICS.AI are really passionate about. It's hard to move users from the channel they are used to using e.g. phone over to a live chat on your website. So, the trick is to augment multiple channels with AI and serve users where they already are. This way, there is no need to increase contact centre staff to handle increasing contact volumes on one-agent-per-one-customer basis.
In this fast moving world we find ourselves in, with technology and global events rapidly changing the way we can do things, Conversational Artificial Intelligence could be the new essential. Making basic daily interactions easier, faster and more effective, AI can soon become an inevitable piece of technology to have around.
ICS.AI are industry leaders of Artificial Intelligence within the public sector.
We helped Cheshire West and Chester deal with a 500% spike in queries relating to COVID-19 with no extra strain on their team.
We helped Southampton City Council automate 30,000 inbound queries since their AI Assistant went live.
We helped Telford and Wrekin Council cut their call wait times by 30 minutes.
We can help you next. Reach out to our sales team today to see how you can achieve true AI channel shift with ICS.AI.