The role of analytics on the journey to the cognitive enterprise (Part 1 of 2)

By | 3 minute read | March 28, 2019

VPN access and mobile email may not sound revolutionary. But back in the ’90s and early 2000s, VPN and mobile email were workers’ first experiences with mobile freedom. Then came the era of mobile productivity when remote and mobile workers could access key business capabilities on traditional and mobile devices. Fast forward to today’s workforce: as we approach the era of the cognitive enterprise, almost every aspect of the work is digitized.

Today’s digital workforce has the flexibility to work anytime, anywhere from any device. But data proliferation, technology innovation and evolving workforce needs are quickly moving us beyond the boundaries of the digital workforce.

Even as IT departments successfully give users the on-demand access they need and want, the cognitive enterprise promises much more. The challenge: enabling this cognitive enterprise necessitates a revolutionary approach to IT.

It requires IT to not only redefine its role within the enterprise, but to become a powerful disrupter.

What is the cognitive experience?

Intelligent solutions are already becoming mainstream in the workplace with, bots, virtual assistants and virtual services automating routine and administrative tasks. These solutions increase worker efficiency and productivity, freeing them up to focus on more strategic and important work.

Across industries, we see companies using AI-powered service desks to field thousands of calls per month with virtual agents. In fact, by the end of this year, Forrester predicts that automation will eliminate 20% of all service desk interactions, due to a successful combination of cognitive systems, RPA and various chatbot technologies.

Many organizations are using digital workplace chatbots to automate repetitive and administrative tasks associated with recruiting and onboarding new workers, event planning, transcribing and distributing meeting notes, facility management, contract purchasing, collaboration, researching and much more. Gartner predicts that by 2020, over 50% of medium to large enterprises will have deployed product chatbots. And by 2021, the industry analyst says 25% of digital workers will use virtual employee assistants daily.

Empowering workers with quicker and easier access to the right information, people, resources and answers has been transformative. But the potential for optimizing the workforce reaches far beyond the traditional idea of access.

The cognitive enterprise enables workers by learning, analyzing, understanding and empowering them with the ideal experience they need to produce the ideal outcome. It does this by continuously analyzing vast quantities of structured and unstructured data to learn how workers act, behave, interact and communicate. Cognitive can identify and predict obstacles, gaps and potential issues, and automatically take action to offer assistance or resolve issues before they escalate. It’s an incredibly exciting concept – a workplace where self-healing and predictive action will resolve or prevent issues before they impact the worker.

How CIOs enable the cognitive enterprise

Today’s CIOs are no longer responsible for managing a portfolio of products designed to give workers access to tools and capabilities. That traditional model simply can’t scale with the rapid pace of innovation and disruption—a pace that will never be slower than it is today.

Modern CIOs are now responsible for enabling workers with the experience they need to be successful. But this shift requires disruptive change well beyond enterprise IT. The worker’s relationship with technology is being redefined. They must learn to become more independent; to learn how to interact with the cognitive experience versus falling back on old ways of doing business. IT will be responsible for driving this change culture within the enterprise.

The good news is that the majority of workers are already willing to embrace AI-empowered tools, according to a 2019 survey conducted by IBM Market Development & Insights about digital workplace services. The survey results reveal that over 80% of workers like the idea of using AI to ensure the security and health of their work devices. Over 70% were willing to use AI for IT support and to schedule meetings. And over 50% of workers are interested in using AI to get advice on HR related topics such as career development and benefits; to have automated smart replies sent on their behalf; and to manage their travel arrangements and expenses.

Delivering a cognitive experience to workers is an iterative process that takes time. The first step requires turning vast amounts of data about workplace processes and the worker experience into actionable information. This will be the jumping off point—where IT can begin to deliver more sophisticated workplace automation and eventually self-healing, predictive action that continuously optimizes the employee experience.

See Part 2 of this discussion to learn more about IT’s new change agent role and why using cognitive analytics is an essential step to delivering the cognitive enterprise.

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