Today long time VoIP pioneer 8x8 (the company formerly known as Packet8) made another in their ongoing acquisitions to bolster feature set, capabilities and likely to acquire more talent. They purchased MarianaIQ (MIQ) a company which has been around since 2013 in the AI space.
AI is the next battleground in telecom, and just like collaboration was to conferencing, AI will be the next rung on the ladder when contact centers, conference calls and even real-time one on one calls are being enhanced. With AI you get all types of use of the conversation that goes well beyond machine learning and natural language processing (NLP). AI in the call path will also supplant and surpass the concept of rules based responses. This replacement and advancement will occur when AI based smart IVR's come into play, and where they learn, can be corrected or confirmed by humans, and then based on what is the right answer or action, replicate that over and over again. And that's where the money is, or in reality the savings and that will involve big data, NLP, ML and Neural networks all combined to deliver a richer, smarter and more precise outcome.
AI, Cloud and gigabit networks also go together, as the speed in which the computations can be done in the cloud and delivered to any device are essential soulmates in the delivery of the data back to the person on the other end. This is where necessary human oversight, by experienced staff comes into play at the very start.
I personally expect to see many other acquisitions and partnerships with AI companies formed by telcos and communications service providers, especially in the UCaaS and Collaboration space as the needed integration can't just be part of the interop like in the old days of VoIP but needs to be woven into the fabric of the business.
8x8, like the other telcos who will follow on quickly with this type of acquisition, will benefit by weaving the AI technology into the core of their platforms. It will be those who innovate swiftly and deliver a superior grade of service, not just features, but actual benefits to their customers and their customers' customers in turn, who win the race.