The Impact of Emotionally Intelligent Technology on Human Performance

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Why is emotional intelligence technology important?

Technology has advanced our day-to-day lives with everything from making it easier to connect with others, to help with simple repetitive tasks. Until now, however, technology has not been human-aware, meaning it has not taken human behavior into account when assisting and guiding individuals. By becoming human-aware, technology can help enhance our natural abilities and assist with new challenges.

For decades, technology has viewed and treated every person the same way. The impact of such technology can only be so deep when it does not recognize and adapt to the attributes that make us uniquely human. Emotional intelligence technology can interpret each person’s unique emotional make-up and provide support that best addresses a given person’s strengths and weaknesses. Supporting positive change in human behavior beyond the surface level requires a personalized approach.

Now, new human-aware technology can account for our differences and even makes us better versions of ourselves by augmenting the skills we already possess. Most humans are innately emotionally intelligent and can empathetically maneuver a conversation. But by nature, some people are more emotionally intelligent than others, and even those with the most emotional intelligence can lose this ability when they become fatigued or distracted. A great example of this is in the call center, where customer service phone professionals must often handle more than fifty calls per day. These interactions require the phone professional to actively listen to each customer’s needs and respond in a caring and confident manner. This repetition and continuous demand for compassion can be draining, leading to cognitive overload and emotional fatigue and eventually, burn out.

Technology that analyzes and interprets behavior to provide real-time guidance helps lessen the burden on frontline workers – it gives individuals a virtual coach that helps them display the soft skills necessary to manage a conversation. While doing so, the technology supplies managers and executives with performance data and customer insights. Supervisors are able to use this information to identify trends and better support employee performance, personalizing guidance for the long term as well. This is much different than the past, where it was impossible to provide an always-on coach for each employee.

What steps are necessary to ensure that emotional intelligence technology can be used more broadly, with a high degree of effectiveness?

The success of emotional intelligence technology requires collaboration across a number of disciplines. In particular, successful use cases have a direct benefit for many parties involved and a means by which to acquire the appropriate data to train and improve a system.

For emotional intelligence technology to be used more broadly, the first hurdle is the technology must exist and be proven to work. To create emotional intelligence technology takes careful collaboration between behavioral scientists, data scientists, machine learning experts, as well as traditional software developers. Today, some of the world’s leading insurance, healthcare and financial companies are combining these skills to create a fundamental thesis about human behavior and appropriately train a system to deploy to a given population.

The second key is access to a data set that can successfully be leveraged to train and improve the algorithms that make human-aware technology possible. Regulations come into play when we discuss the access to and use of data for a given context. Today, there are a select few companies, including Cogito, that have access to large enough data sources to successfully train systems. As the data can become anonymized and shared more broadly, it can accelerate the development of new and more powerful technology across a much broader set of innovative companies.

Thirdly, this type of technology must be applied in a context that delivers value to the users and society as a whole. We are years away from creating a system that generally guides behavior as a human would, and may never actually get there given all the nuances in human behavior. That said, detecting and guiding emotional intelligence can be effective if it is done within a specific context, such as call centers in the customer service industry.

Finally, it is vital to leverage this technology to augment, not replace human judgment. By providing deeper insights into human behavior and allowing a human to confirm or deny it’s accuracy, not only does it help a human in a given situation, but it provides feedback into the system to become more accurate for a given context over time.

Emotionally intelligent technology is uniquely positioned to demonstrate to society how AI can be used to augment our individual strengths to help us be better, more productive versions of ourselves. Now that this technology can identify our emotions, and the other qualities that make us uniquely human, it can help us strengthen them as well. Emotionally aware tech serves as a great example of how humans and AI can work collaboratively, with machine learning personalizing guidance in a manner that is objective and scalable.

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