InsideSales.com Adds Its Voice to the AI Conversation

insidesalesinfographic

Understanding the general public’s sentiment of AI is valuable insight for organizations that are developing these technologies for consumers in their day-to-day lives, both at home and in the workplace.

Seizing the Opportunity: The Value of Consumer Insight About AI

Enter InsideSales.com: Although already a fast-growing company and Silicon Valley “unicorn,” InsideSales had a golden opportunity to be seen as an industry thought leader and insert itself into the center of industry conversations about leveraging predictive analytics, machine learning and AI technologies to offer a competitive edge. What better way than to be the one to shed light on what consumers really think – or just don’t know – about AI?

Effective Execution: Measuring AI Sentiment with a Survey

Highwire worked with InsideSales to develop a creative, data-driven campaign called “The State of AI: Are we Friends or Foe?” to highlight the public perception of today’s most disruptive technology. We polled nearly 2,000 people from a variety of backgrounds and locations to determine how they integrate AI into their lives and which processes they were most willing to turn over to smart machines.

The survey ultimately revealed that consumers are just getting started with AI. While people are comfortable using the same technology they’ve been using for years, it’s the new AI technology–AI-enhanced assistants like Amazon Alexa and self-driving cars–that has yet to reach mass adoption. 

The Positive Results: Targeted Coverage and a New PositioningMW-FJ142_4_20170328142703_NS

Through the survey results and secured coverage in business and tech press, Highwire positioned InsideSales as a thought leader in AI technology and gave the company an authoritative voice for demonstrating where consumers might be willing to adopt AI platforms.

IBM InterConnect: Connecting the Dots Between IBM and the Cloud

InterConnect, IBM’s annual cloud and cognitive conference, may have ended at the end of March, but we’re still feeling the effects of the cloud hype.

IBM InterConnect 2017 Stage

Photo via IBM

This year’s conference, a four-day long celebration of everything cloud, drew more than 20,000 attendees to the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, where IBM showcased its latest innovations and made it clear that it’s committed to an enterprise-strong cloud centered around cognitive technologies. Sessions by influential speakers such as Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, H&R Block CEO Bill Cobb, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and even Will Smith were a major highlight of the conference.

With notable partnership and software announcements, the focus of InterConnect was learning how to “become cognitive”, encouraging organizations to weave human-intellect-inspired cognitive computing into their applications and business processes. Highwire worked with the IBM team to develop an announcement strategy that would resonate with media and other key audiences and positions IBM as the leader in cloud technology.

Delivering on the Hype

The conference kicked off with the unveiling of IBM’s “Blockchain as a Service,” allowing customers to build secure blockchain networks. Continuing the momentum, IBM announced two Watson partnerships with PlayFab and Galvanize.

 

 

 

Another highlight of the conference came from CEO Ginni Rometty’s keynote address, which focused on how cloud and cognitive can come together to change the way we work. After the keynote came two more partnership announcements with Wanda Internet Technology and AT&T.

 

 

Throughout the conference, a major focus area for our team was organizing roundtables with IBM cloud executives to allow media and analysts to discuss the implications of these announcements. These roundtables covered topics such as cloud video, hybrid cloud adoption and the future of developers and offered reporters the opportunity to participate in smaller, interactive sessions.

The announcement cadence, sessions and other events proved to be successful. The conference garnered 291 articles in the U.S., further cementing IBM as a leader in cloud technology with a commitment to innovation in the enterprise.

How Bots, Voice Recognition & AI Are Changing the Consumer Tech Landscape

Last week’s CB Insights Innovation Summit focused on how chatbots, voice recognition and the future of AI are changing the tech landscape for consumers today.

Last week’s CB Insights Innovation Summit focused on how chatbots, voice recognition and the future of AI are changing the tech landscape for consumers today.

Last week’s CB Insights Innovation Summit focused on how chatbots, voice recognition and the future of AI are changing the tech landscape for consumers today. CNBC’s Ari Levy interviewed Arthur Johnson (VP Corporate Development and Global Partnerships at Twilio) and Jeremy Liew (Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners)  about how interfaces of the future are changing the ways both consumers and companies interact. Check out some of our key takeaways from the livestream.

You’ve Got to Bring Bots More to Life

At a high level, there are two main types of bots: bots that operate independently with completely automated responses and bots that operate through a messaging platform such as Facebook Messenger. And they aren’t exactly new. Bots have been used for over 10 years in customer service operations. But both Johnson and Liew agreed that in order for companies to build the next generation of successful bots, they must use personalization and a limited domain to compete in the crowded U.S. app landscape.

“There are some interactions that are better suited for bot technology today than others,” said Twilio’s Johnson. “When you have limited domain, controlled environments and customer service interactions, these are better suited for bots. The more complicated interactions may not be suited for bot technology yet, but there is still a lot of promise in this area.”

Bigger companies like IBM, Facebook and Google will have a leg up on AI innovations, but smaller companies can tap into this technology and benefit as well. Multiple industries such as retail, food and healthcare will benefit from the major potential that exists in chatbots technology. For example, if customers can access bots from their favorite stores through social media sites, it will make customer service easier for both customers and retailers.

“In China, we saw WeChat was so successful because the web and apps were kinda crappy as alternative,” said Liew from Lightspeed Venture Partners. “Here in the West, the web and apps are pretty good for most use cases. The way a user is interacting with a customer service rep was better than it was there before. To drive chat, you have to get better.”

Keep an Eye on Voice Recognition

Recently, a lot of companies have tried to make money building AI communication products. Since AI models are difficult to build and train, this task has proven challenging. The panelists noted that Amazon’s Alexa [used to reference Alexa-driven products such as the Amazon Echo] and Google Home are currently leaders in the space. These devices, however, aren’t pocket-friendly. To compensate, developers are making cellphone apps that work with these products.

“These are new modalities that are open to you and these can generate new use cases,” said Liew. “For instance, being able to call an Uber from my Alexa app isn’t a new use case, it’s a new channel of behavior for existing companies.”

Liew mentioned that voice recognition could be the next best platform because you don’t have to use your hands to interact with Alexa or Google Home. Even individuals who have difficulty using apps and web browsers or those that are unable to read and write could benefit. The possibilities are endless.

“It’s eerily scary how natural [communicating with Alexa] is,” said Johnson. “I can talk fast, I can talk slow or even with an accent, but it’s accurate. That’s the secret sauce. I wanted it to remember my preferences and being able to tie all these preferences and different interfaces together will be a special experience.”

Future Concerns Around Security & Usability

Neither Liew nor Johnson mentioned how these devices will be protected from hacking. If an Alexa is connected to multiple devices and gets hacked, what will happen? Will you still be able to use your Nest thermostat and operate your IoT connected garage door opener? Even with the capabilities of connected devices, an attack could cause private information to be leaked.

Usability will also be a major factor for consumers. Neither the Alexa or the Google Home has a screen, which may turn-off some buyers. IoT connected devices also are not cheap. Consumers will also have to decide whether or not there they see value from paying more for a connected device even if it does make their lives easier.

These platforms are the foundation of the future. Voice recognition will influence the way all types of people use artificial intelligence to make everyday tasks easier. As bots become more mainstream, more companies will try to capitalize on the quickly crowding market.

Companies will need to develop unique bots that provide value for customers and avenues for smaller companies to tap into the technology. We’re excited to see how consumers will benefit from these advancements in upcoming years. 

CES 2017: Top Trends, Tips and Tricks

CES 2017

CES 2017 showed us that IoT, autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence are still major conversation drivers.

What were the big trends of CES 2017? IoT, autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence. This year we saw exciting advancements, especially in the IoT. And let’s not forget Alexa, the technology that stole everyone’s hearts. Here are some of the biggest trends we saw this year and the products behind them:

IoT Finally Connects the Dots

For the past few years, IoT devices have dominated the show floor at CES, but this is the first year we saw IoT products actually working together. A novel thought, no? This has always been the vision of IoT but instead of taking the next step in this “connected lifestyle” we’re trying to create, companies have crowded the market with new devices. The amount of integrations we saw with Alexa this year was a bit overwhelming, but it signals we might finally be going in the right direction. Yes, there are still hurdles to jump in IoT– particularly security and interoperability, but CES 2017 demonstrated we’re off to a good start.

Diversity Takes a Front Seat

Diversity has been a hot button topic in the tech space for years, with the criticism of low diversity growth hovering above companies from Google to Microsoft. But CES 2017 proved that we’re taking steps to combat this issue as an industry. A number of female-founded companies presented devices and gadgets geared towards women, including CEO Naomi Kelman of Willow, with a smart breast pump that slides into a nursing mother’s bra and allows for hands free pumping as well as Lea von Bidder of Ava and its fertility-tracking wristband.

The Consumer-Enterprise Crossover

The most impactful products — ones like standout star Amazon Alexa — will not solely be marketed or made for consumer-use, but will begin to offer enterprise use cases, as well. We saw this back in November, when Atlassian ecosystem partner, SoftServe, built out a function to allow Alexa to work with Atlassian’s HipChat platform. We will continue to see this trend as IoT evolves. After all, what worker doesn’t want a personal assistant?

Capturing the Media’s Attention

Whether you’re touting a veteran crowd pleaser or a break out star, the biggest obstacle at CES is getting in front of the right people. For companies attending the show this year, the timing was very difficult. Many members of the media arrived days before it started and left after the first day. But good news! The show dates are a week later: CES 2018 will be held January 9-12 (Tuesday to Friday), which gives us all an extra week to plan. With that in mind, we’ve put together a few tips for rising above the noise:

 

  • Start early: Start pitching press meetings and demos ahead of the show to shrink the competitive landscape. Press are grateful because they often find the show too large to see everything they want. The earlier you can get a product on a journalist’s radar, the better.
  • Pre-shows, pre-shows, pre-shows:  Pepcom, Showstoppers and CES Unveiled are simple solutions for presenting your product to press in an intimate venue. They quiet the noise of CES’s thirty-two thousand plus exhibitors and allow journalists to focus on your product.
  • Get on your feet: Don’t wait for journalists to find you. With over 170,000 attendees, most journalists can’t get through the entirety of CES, even in a full week’s time. You have to find them. Gather a portable version of your product and hit the aisles yourself!

 

Post co-authored by Stephanie Burke, Senior Account Executive, New York

Stephanie Burke is a senior account executive at Highwire PR. Stephanie supports corporate, consumer and enterprise technology clients, with an emphasis on campaign planning, media relations and events execution. From tech startups to today’s biggest brands, Stephanie supports and leads a variety of campaigns focused on building credibility and awareness of both products and brands.

 

 

Three Trends You’ll See at AWS re:Invent 2016

DevOps, machine learning and global architecture to be key conference trends

Las Vegas skyline at night

Under Armour uses the AWS cloud platform to give more than 180 million users access to its  Connected Fitness platform. Airbnb can store 10 terabytes of user photos with Amazon S3 to house backups and static files. Atlassian deploys its wildly popular HipChat and Bitbucket platforms on it. What do these companies have in common? They all use products from the AWS ecosystem to make their companies more efficient.

With over 24,000 projected attendees, this year’s AWS re:Invent will bring together companies from all over the world to learn more about the organization’s ecosystem and what to look for in 2017.

From Amazon CloudWatch to Amazon GameLift, this conference will have over 400 technical sessions led by industry leaders and AWS partners.

With all this going on, what should you be sure not to miss?

Three trends to watch out for at this conference are DevOps, machine learning and global architecture. Check out our analysis below to help understand how these trends will shape 2017.

DevOps

  • The USA Today description:
    • DevOps encourages communication, collaboration and integration between software developers and IT operations — two business units that have traditionally functioned independently. DevOps is a combination of philosophies, practices and tools to increase the agility of a company’s processes and software development cycle.
  • Why does it matter?
    • DevOps creates a more effective and personalized customer experience, innovates existing software more reliably and accelerates the software delivery cycle. That means faster processes, better service and happier customers.
  • What to expect at AWS re:Invent:
    • Look out for a fireside chat with Groupon, Intuit and LifeLock, as well as a breakout session with AOL on the challenges in providing next-generation applications. These companies are ready to talk about how implementing a DevOps model will protect your company from the competition leading into 2017.  
  • AWS Ecosystem Spotlight, Atlassian:
    • Atlassian Bamboo enables teams to collaborate, build software and serve their customers better. The continuous delivery tool offers strong integrations with AWS for teams to produce software in short cycles that can be built, tested and released faster and more frequently.

Machine Learning

  • The USA Today description:
  • Why does it matter?
    • Machine learning algorithms can be trained over time to make intelligent recommendations for a variety of applications. Machine learning can help with everything from facial recognition, fraud detection and even more accurate medical diagnoses. Ultimately, machine learning will save businesses time and money while delivering a higher quality of service to customers.
  • What to expect at AWS re:Invent:
    • The financial services industry and security functions are going to take the spotlight at re:Invent with use cases in fraud detection and security automation that any company can implement on the AWS platform.

Global (Enterprise) Architecture

  • The USA Today description:
    • Global architecture is a way of building a company’s IT hardware and strategy to support global growth from the beginning. This means solving a broader set of requirements and challenges than other companies that exclusively look domestically.
  • Why does it matter?
    • Running a nationwide IT operation is difficult, but global IT is even more complicated to support. Any company looking to operate globally can expect more pressures, especially related to the availability and quality of service. It’s important for companies to keep this in mind before tackling an international expansion.
  • What to expect at AWS re:Invent:
    • Netflix will present on its journey of failure, innovation and ubiquity as it scaled globally. The session will dive into the architectural patterns that support the streaming giant.

What’s Hot in the Enterprise

VMWorld is only days away—sounding off the beginning of the enterprise conference season. Tracks range from discussing the software-defined data center and the ever-growing cloud, to security and the future of IT strategies in the face of evolving technology.

We can’t wait to see what new developments arise as some of the greatest minds in the space come together to talk shop. In light of what is sure to be an exciting month, here are few trends we think will be of note:

The Coming of Age of the Hybrid Cloud Era

Cloud-based enterprise IT has gone far in the last year, continuously going beyond the expectations with new applications, digital tools and software defined infrastructures that have enabled never before seen flexibility and efficiency.

But the cloud’s role in the enterprise has not reached its full potential. On-premises and hosted cloud environments are still too disjointed, a problem compounded by compliance, governance and a fear of change. The result is on-premises solutions that offer control but slow app delivery in one hand, and the public cloud that reduces control in exchange for speed in the other.

In the coming months and into next year, we will see the hybrid cloud become the norm, mature in its allocation within the enterprise. Gone will be the days in which the cloud was only there for support—becoming the center of business critical workflows.

Data Control and Sovereignty

With the major role the cloud now plays in many business processes, especially in distributed organizations, data management is a major concern. This is particularly important for companies that conduct business in places with restrictive data sovereignty laws like the EU.

As businesses continue to grow overseas, methods of data segmentation and hosting will be streamlined to accommodate changing international laws and consumer/customer concerns about security. And hybrid cloud deployments will be at the center as they make possible the housing and distribution of data wherever it is needed.

Software-Defined Networking

Enterprises are right there with consumers, adopting the latest digital tools. According to Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report, even companies outside the realm of tech are buying up tech companies to help them transition into a new era in which digitization has taken center stage. A trend further instigated by the tremendous focus on data and what can be done with it when collected and analyzed.

With time, software will get closer to the center of today’s businesses and those to come. We can expect even more new products and business models built for and around the software-defined organization.

What do you think is next for the enterprise?