Telco Media and Entertainment

Using AI to Transform the Customer Experience

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What Can You Learn from the Past?

The old cliché still holds true: if you don’t learn from history, then you’re likely to repeat your mistakes. But by digging into the past, you can uncover a wealth of insights to guide your next initiative—and this is especially true as companies aim to unlock the huge potential of AI.

Research from the IBM Institute for Business Value has revealed the fast-growing appetite and expectations for AI among companies from across the industry spectrum, including the media and entertainment world.

Of the 1,000 C-level executives and marketing leaders surveyed, the Institute found that well over 70% expect AI to fundamentally transform their customer experience (CX) strategy and how consumers view their brand. And nearly 87% were already either evaluating AI solutions, running pilots, or had projects in production.

And yet, there remains the lurking suspicion that companies are trying to run before they can walk. After all, let’s not forget that AI represents just the latest in a long line of new technologies that have promised to transform customer engagement. And in previous cases, there were bumps in the road before businesses truly achieved their goals.

Cautionary tales: the World Wide Web and the mobile app

It seems strange now, but back in the late 1990s and early 2000s the internet represented a brave new world for marketers, offering a fresh way to reach target consumers and promote services. Caught up in all the excitement, companies raced to establish a presence on the web, working with specialist agencies to get a site online.

Inevitably, early corporate websites weren’t the slick audio-visual treats we see today, and often simply mimicked existing print brochures. As the internet grew more critical to business operations, many companies faced up to the reality that they needed to go back to square one and start all over. Only this time, they had to pause for thought on how they could optimize the site to generate more value for users and to enhance brand image.

It took around seven years for things to run full-circle. Fast forward to 2014, and the arrival of the mobile app was the next frontier to tackle—and it was no surprise to see a similar cycle to internet marketing. Companies worked fast to get make an app available, but the user experience was often poor. In the end, low ratings and user feedback signalled a lack of engagement.

This time, companies only needed two years to realize that it was time to re-think their approach. The lesson, though, was the same: invest time and resources to think through what you are really trying to achieve, or you will miss the point of the whole exercise.

AI – will it be a case of history repeating?

Turning back to AI, our research hints that companies may be running the risk of making the same mistakes. Certainly, businesses are aiming high with AI projects and making big predictions for how greater personalization will lead to more satisfied customers and revenue growth.

But there are many indications that, for all the high hopes, companies are not fully prepared for the complexities of the transition. Tellingly, 57% of the executives and CX leaders revealed that they believed their AI strategy and use of advanced customer analytics was inadequate. Likewise, 63% make little use of agile methodologies or design thinking processes. And 47% don’t believe their customer data is accurate or reliable.

As an added complication, executives know that AI will significantly impact employees, creating new pressures and demanding new skillsets. 60% of executives reported their workforce lacked sufficient skills in AI, but most believe they will be able to hire new employees or train up existing staff. But with so many companies looking to accelerate their AI journey at the same time, the talent available could be in short supply.

Strategic thinking – the key to achieving your AI goals

To ensure a smooth and successful AI journey, there are key measures that companies will need to take. Fundamental to this will be positioning AI as an enterprise-wide transformation for your company, not simply a technology upgrade. And that means you need a comprehensive strategy that covers all the bases.

Consider how you will use AI, whether it’s automating marketing campaigns or introducing chatbots to your website. Think about how you will measure success, and what will be your KPIs, whether ROI, brand impact or customer satisfaction. And remember to establish robust data governance standards and brand guidelines.

Collaboration, too, will be vital: departmental silos represent a major potential stumbling block. With more than 40% of executives reporting their AI initiatives did not align with IT strategy, it will be vital to bring your marketing and CX leaders together with technical teams to work towards a single vision.

To counter the skills deficit in the early stages, a smart move will be to look to an expert partner to guide you through the adoption process. In time, the more successful your AI projects become, the more likely you will be to attract the very best talent to keep moving forward. In the world of AI, success will breed success.

Chief Technology Officer, GBS, UK&I

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