Gear up for an AI future

Tomorrow’s channel leaders will be centred on AI and analytics according to Emily Fallon, Regional VP, International Channel Marketing and Partner Programmes, RingCentral.

Realising the channel’s potential to harness AI is a top priority, believes Fallon, who fully expects AI and analytics capabilities to become a mainstream differentiator. “Businesses will always seek new ways to surface insights and automate processes to increase productivity, mindshare and growth, and AI and analytics provides the biggest opportunity to do that,” she stated. “As a result, AI will be commonplace in the channel and in businesses generally.”

It’s no secret that a significant element of RingCentral’s strategy centres on AI-powered solutions. Last year the company introduced RingSense, an AI platform that brings conversation intelligence to business communications and collaboration. “It is our mission to turn conversation data into powerful insights that will unlock productivity and drive business outcomes,” stated Fallon. “AI is underpinning everything we do – it’s an exciting opportunity. And we’ll be supporting partners at every step on the journey from onboarding and training to marketing and sales for all new products we’re going to market with.”

Harnessing insights
To underscore the point Fallon noted that the RingSense for Sales solution supports customer-centric selling with detailed insights, specific and actionable feedback and by uncovering critical moments in sales conversations. “Using these insights businesses and managers can improve their coaching and guidance, making sure each team member is performing at their best and help close deals,” she added.

In a survey of resellers and MSP business leaders conducted by Comms Dealer for Comms Vision purposes last year, just two per cent identified their company as being a specialist in contact centre solutions, which is fertile ground for AI and analytics. This is perhaps a surprising statistic given that CCaaS solutions are far easier to sell and can be applied to SMEs. “This finding did surprise me,” commented Fallon. “It indicates a gap in understanding and made me question how the industry is going to market with channel partners. If partners don’t feel confident when it comes to AI powered contact centre solutions, which are ripe for all businesses, especially SMEs given the macro trend of delivering gold standard customer experiences, then vendors need to do more to support their channel partners in this space.

“At times, it’s easy for vendors to be laser focused on the end goal, the sale, without considering the partner and customer journey to get to that point. By reviewing those journeys, vendors will be able to understand exactly the support they need to be giving channel partners for the best outcomes. Vendors should always be looking at ways to enhance the channel experience.”

Drink your own champagne
Using the technology is by far the best way to experience the impact of AI and analytics on boosting productivity and enhancing collaboration, believes Fallon. “It seems obvious, but when you use your own product it makes it so much easier to get to grips with the technology and value proposition,” she added. “If vendors give channel partners access to their AI and analytics products and those channel partners then give access to customers, it will make a fundamental difference to understanding and implementation.

“Partners can make data driven decisions with these tools. For example, with RingSense AI analytics in all our solutions partners can target marketing based on analysis of aggregated customer insights or understand when a sale might be about to stall and step in with a different course of action. In my opinion, the key to future success in the channel is to become data driven by embracing AI and analytics.”

Competitive advantage
Those channel companies most familiar with AI and analytics will be best placed to capitalise on an uptake trend that is only going in one direction. Why? Because optimising resources is front of mind for SMBs and it is vital for them to have a comprehensive understanding of customer sentiment to target their marketing, customer service and sales in the right way. So it’s no surprise that demand for AI and predictive analytics is on the up given that they surface valuable personalised and data driven insights.

“We’re also seeing SMBs increase adoption of AI for customer support and integrating those solutions into CRM systems for strong lead management,” explained Fallon. “SMBs can be resource constrained so everything they do needs to be streamlined and efficient to ultimately help them focus on growth.

“Beyond customer support, AI integration is another big trend within SMBs where a lot can be automated. SMBs want the journey from quote to sale to be quick and easy and AI helps with that. However, to achieve maximum automation efficiencies SMBs want the plethora of AI powered products to be integrated into a single offering.”

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