Carmen is the executive leader for one of IBM Watson’s first public sector local rollouts, which the county water utility uses to solve problems in its customer service division. Since that initial launch, use of Watson Assistant by the utility’s 400,000 customers has grown exponentially.

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What was the challenge you wanted to address with AI?
Miami-Dade County Water and Sewer Department needed to reduce the overflow volume of calls placed in a queue to speak with an agent during business hours, and to expand service hours to customers who aren’t able to address any general billing questions and payment extensions options during off-business hours.

What advice would you share with others who are considering using AI?
When implementing any new technology that could have the perception of replacing human jobs, the business stakeholders that hold those existing jobs should be included in the process of re-engineering how the work gets done. This helps tame any fears that might generate passive resistance and hinder success. Find a business stakeholder champion to bridge gaps between the business and the IT professionals. Also, find a use case that has a meaningful effect on operations. Building the ability to log usage into the solution will allow you to provide visibility into value from day one.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t be afraid. Technology is ever changing, and you will always be learning, teaching, collaborating, failing and then succeeding. Fear stifles the energy you’ll need.

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