“The robots are coming, the robots are coming!” said my colleague and artificial intelligence expert Kimberly Nevala in a tongue-in-cheek teaser for her new ebook, “ Making Sense of AI .”

SwissCognitiveShe is right. In fact, in the context of digital transformation and customer experience, artificial intelligence (AI) already has a foot in the door. And that foot is poised to kick the door wide open.

IDC predicts that by 2019, 40 percent of digital transformation initiatives will be supported by some sort of cognitive computing or AI effort. Servion predicts that AI will power 95 percent of all customer interactions by 2025, and it will do it so effectively that customers will not be able to “spot the bot.” Gartner says that 85 percent of customer relationships will take place without human interaction by 2020. And Juniper Research predicts that chatbot conversations will be responsible for cost savings of over $8 billion per year by 2022, up from $20 million in 2017.

Those are heady predictions.

On the flip side, Elon Musk, Bill Gates and the late Stephen Hawking have voiced concerns about the impacts of ungoverned AI on jobs and within society in general. Last year, Facebook cut back on the use of chatbots in its Messenger application after finding that the bots failed to fulfill 70 percent of user requests when deployed alone, rather than in tandem with a human agent. And we have all experienced the instant frustration (i.e. customer rage) that poorly designed intelligent voice response systems can provoke.

Preventing the AI Experiment From Becoming a CX Disaster

The good news? Despite the dire predictions and well-publicized missteps, AI — when implemented correctly — can be a great boon to customer experiences and digital transformations. AI can improve response time, provide contextually relevant personalized recommendations, incorporate sentiment into responses, eliminate bottlenecks and automate routine inquiries, freeing up humans to deal with more complex problems. In all cases, a blended approach — one that combines man and machine — is the key to avoiding missteps and viral mistakes. […]