News Roundup: SMB Tech Trends, MSPs Missing AI Opportunity, Cisco Opens Up AI Platform


Gartner predicts that by 2021, artificial intelligence will process 21% of customer service interactions, which is four times more than in 2017. Small businesses, which continue to be the backbone of the American economy, may find it difficult to compete in artificial intelligence (AI) for several reasons. As we have shared on EDGE360, SMBs want – and, truly, must – adopt new technologies, and they are looking at AI with the same keen interest that enterprise and government customers have in it. In this roundup, we learn about SMB tech trends from a recent Salesforce survey; that many managed services providers don’t understand emerging AI opportunities; and how Cisco is leveling the playing field by making its conversational AI platform open source.

Report Examines SMB Challenges, Demographics and Tech Trends

Salesforce’s Third Edition Small & Medium Business Trends Report surveyed more than 2,011 small and medium business owners in North America, Europe and Asia about “the challenges and goals of SMB executives …. and the role of technology in satisfying customer expectations.” In a story in Business News Daily about the survey, they shared that “In business tech circles, one of the hottest topics is artificial intelligence (AI) and its potential use for small businesses. Even though only 8% of SMBs reported using AI today, 32% said they planned to implement it in the future.” Among the uses that SMBs stated for AI were chatbots, lead prioritization and predictive audience sales forecasting.  Read the article here.

MSPs: Good News, Bad News, and Opportunities

A Channel E2E article outlines what managed services providers (MSPs) are focusing on in terms of technology solutions. According to them, in terms of automation and AI, the good news is that there are hundreds of new software integrations emerging across the MSP software landscape and the lines between PSA (professional services automation), RMM (remote monitoring and management), BDR (backup and disaster recovery), endpoint security and more are now blurred. However, the “overwhelming majority of the MSP market has so far missed AI opportunity and don’t understand emerging AI opportunities.” In fact, AI will reinvent the IT service desk, and that is already happening at the enterprise level. Read the article here.

Cisco Pulling Back the Curtain on Conversational AI Platform

Cisco is making its core conversational AI platform open source, which could lead to greater adoption by SMBs. Adoption of conversational interfaces lags adoption for home use. IoT World Today wrote that “conversational AI could potentially be transformative in the customer service arena, with chatbots and voice assistants handling the heavy lifting of routine customer queries while human agents handle more specific questions.” Despite its potential, growth of conversational AI has been slow, because the underlying software can be challenging to develop. Large tech companies with substantial resources have tended to create the most advanced conversational AIs, leaving smaller and mid-sized players at something of a disadvantage. To help drive progress in the market, Cisco recently announced its plan to make its MindMeld conversational AI platform open source. Read the story here.


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