4 tips for starting an AI project in your company

Alexa

Written by Ben Shan, Product Director for Conversational AI Solutions, Sutherland

Few technologies are garnering as much attention and enthusiasm as artificial intelligence. The prognostications about its potential are extensive, and many consider AI to be the natural successor to today’s digital-first ethos that permeates virtually every aspect of our personal and professional lives.

Clearly, companies are taking notice.

According to Gartner’s 2019 CIO Survey, 37% of organizations have implemented AI in some capacity, an incredible 237% increase in just four years. Meanwhile, Deloitte’s State of AI in the Enterprise report found a direct link between AI adoption and competitive advantage, noting that 42% of executives believe that the technology will be critical within two years.

Consequently, companies are investing copious amounts of money in AI technologies, and the AI market is expected to reach $1.2 trillion by 2020.

With all of this chatter and accompanying investment, you’re likely feeling the pressure to get involved yourself. Before you jump in and champion a new organizational priority, here are four tips for initiating your AI project.

#1 Square up to a Real Business Problem

Like many new tech trends, there is a lot of hype surrounding AI. If you believe the buzz, there is no limitation to what AI can accomplish, and many companies selling AI solutions are quick to promise the universe and more as long as you are willing to purchase their product.

To be sure, AI is positively impacting many companies, and it can have a transformative impact on your organization also. The key is knowing what problem you’re trying to solve.

Because of its ability to augment and streamline direct interactions with customers, the technology is frequently applied to sales and customer service initiatives, something that can both ease the strain on existing personnel while creating new contact points for customers.

For example, our customers use AI to:

  • streamline the sales qualification process
  • engage and streamline repetitive corporate functions
  • execute repetitive, high-volume, low-value transactions

If your company is experiencing these or similar challenges, AI could play a part in the solution. Another dimension of value is if these challenges magnify during specific high-volume periods or other engagement “spikes”. By beginning with the problem you will be able to frame up whether AI is the best option or just the most popular choice.

#2 Engage All Stakeholders

Regardless of their technical brilliance, solutions developed in a vacuum are bound to be incomplete or insufficient.

Therefore, prioritize a holistic approach to AI initiatives by engaging all stakeholders in the developmental process. In doing so, you will be more likely to create a comprehensive solution that accounts for all elements of the user journey while best addressing the specific problem that you’re trying to solve with the technology.

Customer-facing solutions have many moving parts, and creating a coherent and comprehensive experience won’t be possible without broad input across the customer experience spectrum.

This includes soliciting input from the sales team, marketing department, legal representatives, engineering teams, customer care and any other team members who can offer insight into the product’s development.

To put it simply, don’t deploy AI in isolation.

#3 Understand the User Journey

Ultimately, a successful AI experience is one that is as seamless and as comprehensive as possible, accounting for complicated scenarios and leading the customer to the desired result.

For that reason, traditional design elements and product planning become crucial elements of any AI initiative.

More specifically, companies considering an AI project need to know:

  • which customer service scenarios are happening more frequently
  • how many different intents and outcomes exist for these scenarios
  • what are the critical intersections between the user experience and design elements
  • which stages in the UX funnel are the highest priority?

Perhaps most importantly, AI is a long way from completely replacing human interactions, and understanding the user journey means planning for how your human representatives and automated solutions work together to create successful outcomes for your customers.

#4 Pick the Right Partner

AI is undoubtedly today’s topic du jour, and companies looking to get involved have many products and partners to choose from.

In many ways, choosing among the many offerings can be the differentiating factor between a successful rollout and a missed opportunity.

Fortunately, when companies identify the problem that they want to solve and they account for the holistic development process, they can choose a partner who can specifically and adequately address those needs.

Whether deciding between an off-the-shelf solution or a customized product offering, beginning with the end in mind ensures that your organization is positioned to harness the technology’s potential rather than just supporting a solution provider’s bottom line.

AI will undoubtedly play a prominent role in the future of business and customer service, which means that choosing the right solution and deploying it in the right way can help you stay ahead without reaping the unintended consequences of an overly hasty or strategy-light rollout.

However, as with any new technology project, it’s important to keep the scope manageable. You don’t need a large, time-consuming, high-cost project. Don’t try to boil the ocean; rather, it’s ok to pick a smaller scope and get started.


Originally posted here.

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