Are Intelligent Machines Changing Our Approach to Change?

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I was thrilled to kick off the Forrester CXSF event in San Francisco (CXSF) October 19th where the theme of Human + Machine was explored in great depth in the context of customer experience. My talk underscored that theme directly as for years consultants have advised breaking down problems along the dimensions of people, process and technology, largely in that order. Quite logical in fact. Technology has been the great enabler…a rewarding opportunity to improve productivity and the processes people devise to create efficiency and value.

But, as I shared in San Francisco, now we’re awash in so many exciting technologies like voice assistants, robotic vacuums, and self-driving vehicles, along with similar advancements in AI and automation, that the floodgates of innovation have been thrown open, giving us an opportunity to rethink how we approach business design. I encouraged attendees to think not only in the traditional People / Process / Technology mindset, but also to approach challenges in the reverse… technology first, applied to processes, in service of the humans involved. I explored the implications of putting intelligent machines at the core of a business, and shared some historical precedent for doing so.

In short, we have the opportunity to improve every business in every industry. As humans we bring understanding, context and reasoning to any situation…the ability to interact and respond in a natural, meaningful and emotionally relevant way. But try as we may, we struggle to keep up with all the data and information available to us which, if understood, can make us even better. How does a human – or even an entire medical practice — ingest the 8,000 articles published on cancer every day? How do humans alone monitor and detect every defect moving through a factory floor, potential contamination in the food supply, an unscrupulous financial transaction, or even a customer conversation with a help desk that is going south fast?

Today — and we saw many examples at CXSF — machines are being trained to make intelligent, informed observations to augment the processes and capabilities of the humans they work with, tagging, classifying, searching and applying volumes of structured — and excitingly — unstructured data. Machines have the ability to analyze tone of speech and can provide personality insights to support more empathetic engagement. They’re great at trendspotting and weighing facts across vast libraries of information, and discovering correlations we didn’t recognize with the naked eye. The advancements in this space are truly eye-opening and we’re just beginning!

How do you go about considering and approaching this new era in intelligent machines and automated processes? Getting started isn’t as hard as you might think, so I hope you’ll contact me and our experts at IBM iX — let’s start the conversation today!

Chief Innovation Officer, IBM Global Business Services North America

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