Artificial Intelligence (AI) enables an unprecedented suite of user-facing features, but when it comes to AI for the enterprise, the only “wow” factors that matter are the ones associated with value generation through gains in efficiency and productivity. The good news is that advanced features like Conversational AI can be used to generate these kinds of benefits.
The potential for growing value through AI was the premise of a breakout session at this year’s Digital Workforce Summit (DWS) led by two AI pioneers: Adeel Fudda, Senior Director of Global Automation at Becton Dickinson (BD), and Matt Tomlinson, Product Management Leader with Indeed.com. Both Fudda and Tomlinson have long histories partnering with IPsoft to automate and optimize processes within their organizations. They used their DWS breakout session as a platform to discuss the lessons learned from their previous implementations and present strategies for generating new business value.
Build a Business Case
The first thing a company needs to do on its AI journey is to identify which processes it wishes to automate. A key part of this planning period is engaging in a conversation with current and prospective users to identify their most common pain points. An improved customer experience leads to increased customer retention and turns customers into brand advocates.
“As we began deciding our project’s scope, one of the things we looked at was our user experience survey,” explained Fudda. “When it came to the IT service desk, some of the most common feedback we received was regarding the inconsistency of service. It really depended on the type of agent they got… All of us know the challenges of attrition with service departments, consistently training new agents. So, depending on the agent you get, the type of experience can vary.”
In order to provide a more uniform user experience, BD decided to automate many common user-facing processes via a virtual agent built atop IPsoft’s Amelia. Amelia’s secure back-end integrations allow her to not only provide answers to FAQs, but also assist users with independently resolving their issues. “Being able to automate the fulfillment of [those needs] really impacts your customer experience,” Fudda told the audience.
“We were actually asking, ‘Where are humans actually not performing well?’ And then we asked, ‘Could augmentation [and] could machine intelligence actually help with that area?’”
— Matt Tomlinson, Product Management Leader, Indeed.com
BD was able to build new value through savings on overhead costs related to its service desk without sacrificing quality — in fact, automation arguably improved its services. With Amelia, customers directly benefited from 24/7 access to information and services, while also indirectly benefiting from access to experienced support agents who were freed from high-volume tasks so they could spend time addressing more complex or unique user needs.
This indirect benefit works to customers’ advantage, and also contributes to employee retention because workers’ roles will naturally evolve to be more fulfilling with an emphasis on expertise and creative problem solving. “You want to actually have the cost of automation help [not just processes but service agents too] by alleviating them of the tedium of their job,” explained Tomlinson. This digital transformation “allows them to do more interesting and fulfilling work for a larger audience of your customers.”
Where to Start
AI opens so many exciting possibilities for a business that it can be difficult to decide which types of tasks to automate first. “There’s so much low-hanging fruit areas, [it’s tempting to] approach it from a very simplistic perspective,” explained Tomlinson. “You know you have a lot of volume in password resets and so you’re going to try the password reset route.” However, volume of requests isn’t the only thing to consider. Tomlinson then explained how during his tenure with a previous employer, he found success with AI via “a slightly different approach. We were actually asking, ‘Where are humans actually not performing well?’ And then we asked, ‘Could augmentation, could machine intelligence actually help with that area?’”
Tomlinson said his previous company was able to generate value through the automation of “requests that were so rare that they were actually more expensive for us to maintain training and support on than they were for us to encode and train the AI in. There were requests which only come in 10 times a month, and maintaining training for hundreds or thousands of employees to know something that’s so rare is extremely high. So we looked at it from that level of ROI as well.”
“Being able to automate the fulfillment of [user needs] really impacts your customer experience.”
— Adeel Fudda, Senior Director of Global Automation, Becton Dickinson
AI, in its basic form, has a long history automating back-end processes, which has opened the door to scaled operations. Now that companies are able to automate front-end engagements as well, it creates new potential for growth, the duo told breakout attendees.
“So anytime that you have sort of human-to-human interaction, you have to ask yourself, ‘Does that human-to-human interaction scale to the rate which your business scales?’ And I’m going to make a bold statement that it probably doesn’t,” Tomlinson said. “You’ve probably engineered your business digital-first so that you can scale your business very rapidly, and you can only scale humans pretty linearly, and so anytime that you have a sort of a linear scale of humans and an exponential scale of business, you have a gap there.”
As Fudda and Tomlinson made clear, we are entering an exciting new time when businesses can engineer their way over this gap.