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Workplace technology: meet the early adopters

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by Startacus Admin

workplace technology
How crucial is it to stay on top of the latest tech trends and for your business to be early adopters of new technology? An interview with a business trying to do just that...

Not only has technology changed the way we communicate with our friends and family, but the way we connect with our colleagues and clients too. It’s made us and the businesses we work for more efficient, and it’s exciting to see what technological advancements will be made in the next 5 to 10 years. It seems like every day there is an article on VR, robotics and artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies - in May, the world’s first all-VR theme park opened in China, featuring 35 attractions. The same month also saw MIT engineers launch the world’s first robotic kitchen restaurant in Boston.

But while the word ‘technology’ reminds us of everything that’s new and upcoming, we mustn’t forget some of the very early technologies that have had an impact on the way we live and work; the first computer, for example, the introduction of the World Wide Web in 1991, the creation of the fax machine and the mobile phone. Naturally, some things come and go (there isn’t a need for a fax machine anymore); other technologies have changed over time, adapting to the needs of the consumer.

Nottingham-based VIA was one of the first businesses to specialise in unified communications, helping firms to bring together all of their communication platforms into one efficient cloud-based system for voice calls, instant messaging, email and video conferencing. 

Keen to discover other early adopters of technology, and find out just how crucial it is to stay on top of the latest tech trends, VIA Co-founder Alex Tebbs, interviewed businesses in a range of sectors, starting with Simon Hoe, global head of digital and eCommerce at Cruise1st.

Hi Simon, tell us about your business and what it does? 

Cruise1st is one of the UK’s leading cruise specialists, specialising in Mediterranean, Caribbean and worldwide cruise holidays. We work with all the major cruise lines to brin our customers competitive cruise deals to the world’s best-loved destinations.

What new and emerging technologies have you adopted? What do you use it for?

We recently adopted a chatbot as a means of handling customer enquiries through machine learning technology. The chatbot assists customers during the research phase, chatbothelping them find a destination, cruise line and deal that they’re interested in. The always-on nature of the programme means customers can get help around the clock, with the chatbot able to handle hundreds of queries and conversations simultaneously.

AI adoption has had a major impact on our operations and process, with an eight-fold increase in lead capture, 3% revenue growth and nearly 50% increase in profit per basket.

Since implementing the chatbot, customers have arrived at the call centre with greater purchase intent – which is exactly why we embraced the technology.

Virtual reality is also something we’ve invested in as part of our physical sales efforts at our store in Manchester, and we hope to look into this further and implement new VR elements across the website.

Why did you decide to adopt this technology?

Given the volume of research that goes into planning a cruise, we needed a new process to filter out ‘tyre-kicking’ customers and free up resource in our call centre. Too often, our agents were handling general enquiries from customers with minimal purchase intent, so we wanted to be able to filter our calls and move customers at a deeper stage of the sales funnel to the front of the queue.

How important do you think it is to stay on top of emerging trends?

It’s very important. We’re firm believers in investing in the latest technologies to improve our service. To keep up-to-date with emerging trends, we work with a handful of early adopters technologytrusted third-party specialists.

Is there anything you're keeping an eye on, in relation to emerging tech (either in your industry, or generally)?

Having seen the effectiveness of our new chatbot system, machine learning is something we’re keen to explore further and adapt to other areas of the business, such as the payment portal and post-booking phase.

Where do you see technology taking us in 5-10 years time? What do you think will be the next big thing?

As new AI systems continue to emerge, this will undoubtedly impact how people buy and search online and will begin to affect businesses traditionally seen as low-tech. Machine learning will make it easier for companies to service customers online, though this could have an impact on service levels depending on how carefully it’s implemented.

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Published on: 22nd August 2018

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