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May 29, 2017
AI is the new UI—How revenue agencies can harness the power of digital
By: John Baxter

As consumers and citizens, we utilise the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) daily, and the media that we interact with is increasingly curated, based on our preference and networks. AI is growing bigger and faster, primarily due to a rapid growth in data sets and a huge cost reduction of computer power, now being delivered by the cloud.

Natural Language Processing (NPL) is evolving quickly, enabling context aware and rich conversations between people and technology. It also provides an important new channel for revenue agencies to engage with citizens and a new tool to empower employees.

As AI becomes “smarter,” we’ll see more citizen interaction and engagement, as they see better customer services as a result. More self-servicing for users will become available, using natural language, and reducing the need to enter information via a traditional UI—although this won’t vanish completely.

Citizen interactions with revenue agencies will shift from the current transactional approach to more conversational and frequent communications. It will help reduce the pain citizens often experience when dealing with revenue agencies as they rotate from being an “enforcer of regimes” to providing a more supportive role to citizens.

How you interact with AI will also change the services that agencies offer you, helping them to gain a better understanding of your needs and to drive integration with third parties accordingly. A more integrated ecosystem across agencies and third-party services is imperative to provide the services citizens expect, but it will mean your “brand” will become partly devolved to them in the process.

The identification and authentication process to access agency AI interfaces will be crucial. Agencies need to be certain of users’ identities, whilst also providing a “frictionless experience.” To enable this approach, integration of biometric identification is a must and authentication will be determined based on the type of data that users request.

As the abilities and accuracy of AI increase, citizen expectations will continue to grow. Agencies will need to keep up with technology advances, otherwise citizens will become frustrated and resort to traditional channels, which could overwhelm them. The customer experience benchmark set by digital native companies is high, and agencies should aspire to attaining the same level of customer satisfaction—AI is powerful tool to help them achieve this.

AI will not only power the UI used by citizens, it will also have an impact on the roles that agency staff currently perform.  As it becomes the default channel for resolving simple citizen queries, it will free up staff to work in more interesting roles.  However, it will likely cause concern to staff performing those roles, so to manage this level of change effectively, agencies need to clearly understand the impact it will have and respond accordingly.

Enabling citizens to have a seamless conversation using a mixture of AI and human services is important.   It’s key that we design an intelligent process that is able capture and remember user history, to optimise the user experience.

Although there will be the inevitable teething troubles, it’s essential to realise the potential of AI if agencies are to provide the services that citizens expect in a digital age. We need to ensure services are designed with the right mix of digital and human interaction. The ability to talk to a human being is still very much needed—we just need to find the right balance.

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