• February 14, 2018

AI is cited as being the next big disruptor to industries, changing how businesses operate and how customers interact and go about their daily life. Already we’re seeing widespread adoption of AI technology into the area of customer service with chatbots answering customer queries. Customers are using mobile apps to shop, place food orders and socialise with their friends. The dynamic of business is changing at an extremely rapid pace.

Yet there are many companies adopting a wait and see approach, hesitant to invest in technology and implement digital transformation. The problem is that technology is changing rapidly and it’s bringing with it a culture change of how customers live and industries function. If companies start to try and catch up tomorrow, it may be futile; because, by the time they start to implement technology, it will already have changed and they may never be able to catch up.

History has shown that the risk of companies ignoring technology and change is that disruptions can make what they offer and how they operate obsolete and entire organisations can collapse – even those who previously held a position of market strength.  Take for example Fuji film who were a market leader in the film and photography industry. Yet within three years of digital photography becoming mainstream, they went bankrupt, because they were too slow and unresponsive to change.

So if AI is the next big thing, what should companies be doing to get ready?

Understand customer value

While ignoring technology isn’t wise, blindly going ahead and implementing technology without understanding how it can add to customer value for your business is equally foolish. Technology is a major investment and requires a clear strategy with objectives and outcomes well defined before it’s implemented. Understanding customer value demand will help the decision-making process of what type of technology to implement where. What processes could be automated? What customer channels could be made self-service? And what systems need to be upgraded so they provide more efficient support to employees?

Tune in to what’s happing in your industry

Look to what technology the market leaders are implementing and learn from their mistakes and successes. Having said this, choose technology that aligns with your customer value and operating cost model. Jaguar Land Rover, for example, has an impressive level of automation in their manufacturing operations that many other organisations might aspire to. However, it cost billions and took more than 5 years to implement, which is not something many organisations could match. Be realistic rather than idealistic when reviewing technology options. Not all AI technology will be a fit for your business. You need to ensure that whatever digital transformation is implemented, that it achieves a return on investment.

What will reduce failure demand?

AI technology offers many advantages, but on its own it cannot fix failing operational systems or disengaged employee attitudes. Technology is just a tool, and real change comes from first making a strategic review using diagnostics and analytics, finding out where the failures occur and what’s causing them.  Then one can start working at a culture change that is supported by the right kind of technology and training.

Training for future employees

Recognise that many repetitive or entry level jobs will be automated in the future, which means that the roles humans fill will require a higher level of skill or knowledge. Train employees in the skills they will need to integrate with technology, either in systems design, maintenance or management. If you don’t yet know what this will look like, then you need to consider running diagnostics or do a deep-dive analysis using speech analytics to uncover specific training needs.

Keep abreast of real tech innovations

It’s not difficult to find information on the latest technological advances. The problem is separating the fake news from the truth. There are plenty of opinions out there making large claims and predictions. It takes a discerning eye to cut through the clutter and know which voices to listen to. Interestingly enough, the more you research the topic, the more you will know who the real authorities are and the easier it becomes to spot and ignore the myths.

Prepare for disruption

Even if you’re not quite ready to implement digital transformation on a large scale, you still need to start thinking about it and preparing your organisation for the impact technology disruption could have. Consider which business functions could become obsolete, how customers might engage or buy differently and start thinking about how you can do things better using AI technology. The point is to do something! Don’t sit back and think that your organisation is too large, secure or well established to be impacted by AI and the technology changes it’ll bring with it. AI can offer many advantages to those companies choosing to embrace it.

If you’d like to have a chat about getting your organisation AI ready, email info@emberservices.com or call us on +44 (0)20 7871 9797.