Artificial intelligence is a hot topic these days. If it’s starting to seem like something you can’t get away from, there’s a reason for that. Artificial intelligence (AI) is making sweeping changes in the way everyone is doing business, and nowhere more so than in the IT industry.

Managed service providers (MSPs) are feeling the impact of AI use, mostly when it comes to the power of chatbots. Chatbots are an incredible way for MSPs to save time and money when it comes to the lower levels of their customer support. Well-programmed bots can take the burden off techs and your support staff when it comes to answering simple questions and troubleshooting common issues. By no means do they replace the need for more complex support offered by human experts, but they can help take the burden of the simple stuff off your staff, allowing them to focus on the bigger issues.

Jetsons or Terminators?

I’ve talked before about how technology will impact our future, whether we’re looking at a bleak future controlled by robot overlords or a tech-infused life of innovative simplicity. As I said then, “’It’s clear that technology will be what paves our path to the future, but what will that future look like? Will it be a Terminator-like future, where an all-powerful technology force controls the world for evil? People are scared to find themselves up against a Skynet-esque entity set on removing the threat of humanity from the world. That may be an extreme example, but there is certainly a school of thought that technology will continue to make us less connected, more self-centered.”

Technology is a tool, only as good as the people who wield it, so of course there will be people who misuse it, but I don’t believe that’s the direction of technology as a whole. AI is going to become an integral part of how we make our lives and our businesses easier. By connecting our chatbots with our time tracking software, our ticketing solutions, and more, we can turn a chatbot conversation into a time-tracked support session that’s recorded in the corresponding customer ticket. A problem tracked, solved, and billable without needing a tech to get on the phone or to roll a truck.

Predicting the future

There’s no AI to do that yet, but I believe that we’re headed toward a positive future where technology will continue to make us better. As the role of CIO becomes a major player in the business of tomorrow, technology helps us all prepare for the flexibility of this new model. AI will play a key role in helping us all scale our businesses and communications into the cloud as the internet continues to connect everyone instantaneously to the information they’re looking for.

Pocket assistants

Just look at systems like Alexa, Cortana, and Siri. Compared to newer technologies, these simple phone-based AI’s may not seem like anything incredible. But we’re all walking around with a pocket-sized assistant who can answer our questions, search the internet on our behalf, perform complex calculations, and order our toilet paper when it’s running low. The way I see it, that’s pretty incredible, and I’m excited that it’s just the first vanguard of what’s to come with AI technology. These AI systems still rely on human-created lists of options to answer their questions.

“After an afternoon of interviewing Siri, it turns out there are millions of questions that it can’t or won’t answer,” says a recent Guardian article. That’s a pretty serious limitation for an AI we’ve come to rely on as all-knowing. These people-programmed systems are already a tremendous help, but aren’t as flexible as newer options being developed. Siri can’t handle uncertainty, Alexa doesn’t work well with probability. Smarter systems coming down the line will be better able to fill in the blanks, ask the right questions, and be even better prepared to help.

Service delivery relief

As these technologies continue to advance, MSPs will have a growing number of opportunities to implement AI as another layer of support that helps customers experience smoother, more immediate service delivery. Customers will find solutions faster, your customer satisfaction ratings will increase, and it will all happen with a complex AI that takes the pressure off of your overworked help desk team.

As AI solutions become more complex, you’ll be able to rely on them to spot patterns in one task that could be applied to another with a few shifts, and you’ll be gaining efficiencies automatically. It’s an exciting new world and I, for one, am looking forward to it.