The customer service (contact center) space is accelerating faster than the market has ever seen up to this point. Artificial intelligence and digital communication is changing everything.\nLet\u2019s start with some context. Right now we\u2019re in the middle of a major market disruption by cloud-based contact center software platforms. They\u2019re turning the conservative call center space into cutting-edge contact centers by helping them give up the expense and complexity of their hosted gear for easy-to-use, budget-friendly software as a service products in the cloud. They\u2019re doing a great job of convincing and it\u2019s coming at the expense of the traditional on-premise sellers at nearly 24% year over year growth (projected average over the next five years). That\u2019s a ton of market share to lose in a very short amount of time.\nThing is, as fast as industry hardware giants like Avaya and Cisco are giving way to the new cloud platforms, the new cloud players are, if they\u2019re not careful, going to be disrupted by the movement of digital channels with artificial intelligence before their own disruptive behavior is halfway capitalized. In case I lost you there, I\u2019ll rephrase: The cloud players are going to be disrupted in half the time it\u2019s taken them to begin disrupting the on-prem giants.\nWe\u2019re in the middle of an Innovator's\u00a0Dilemma where cognitive technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning are the new driving forces of change. Digital communication channels have been growing in demand for some time, fueled in part by the rapid rise of social networks, text messaging and now, messaging apps. But even as those channels have steadily reduced the inbound call volume over the last five years, it hasn\u2019t been until the recent resurgence of artificial intelligence that contact center operators have seriously questioned their entire operations model.\nDigital communication has given a taste of how relatively inexpensive it can be to support a customer, compared to answering a phone call. Operators have taken note of this and over the last few years we\u2019ve seen many, for the first time, earnestly trying to figure out how to utilize networks like Twitter and Facebook more effectively to compound the savings. Now that many have read the whitepapers and case studies and have tasted what it\u2019s like to see real cost of service savings with digital, they\u2019re chomping at the bit for artificial intelligence and the idea of replacing percentages of front line work with bots.\nUp to this point, the giant market of chat bots has been mostly about excitement and potential. They\u2019ve been fun to play with in very specific, heavily scripted scenarios. But up until recently, they haven\u2019t had the ability to understand the full context of what an inbound question or comment really means. At HelpSocial, we\u2019re now seeing, for the first time, the ability of a bot to remember who someone is and take prior history into consideration when formulating a response. That\u2019s the difference between getting an answer like, \u201cSorry for the issue. First, let\u2019s make sure the modem is plugged in\u2026\u201d and \u201cI\u2019m sorry this has happened again. I just sent a message to the technician who helped you last time and we\u2019re going to make sure it\u2019s fixed.\u201d\nWe\u2019re not years out from this. Billions of dollars have been (and are continuing to be) put into R&D in the space. Thousands of new startups are being funded and starting to be acquired for their cognitive tech. It\u2019s projected that over the next five years, these technologies will bring over $8 billion in savings to the customer service industry. To put that in perspective, that\u2019s somewhere between a third and\u00a0a half of the total projected cloud contact center software market value in the same time frame. If that\u2019s not opportunity, I don\u2019t know what is.\nI confess, up until as recently as six months ago, I would have said we\u2019re well over five years out from seeing humans being replaced in material percentages on the front line of the contact center. But since then, I\u2019ve seen within my own company and with some of our partners the power of this technology. Now, I don\u2019t believe it will take us near that long to see wholesales changes in how we think about workforce planning for customer engagement. And if you really want to go off on a tangent, start thinking about how that will impact everyone\u2019s per-person pricing models and what that will do to the large industry incumbents who can\u2019t afford to switch to cost-effective usage-based models\u2026. We\u2019re in for some big changes across the tech industry in general.\nThe next 18 months are critical. This is the same type of moment where Blockbuster had a chance to buy Netflix but didn\u2019t do it. Cliche, I know, but true. The companies that lead over the next decade will be the ones that are able to act quickly right now on a strategy of advancing these technologies. They need to be able to tell a story of how to deflect big percentages of incoming call volume to digital and use AI to maximize efficiencies. That\u2019s a big step for an industry living on revenues generated from using the phone. And that is a perfect case study for the Innovator\u2019s Dilemma.