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Cloud infrastructure readiness for AI and CX transformation

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Per Sedihn, CTO at Proact IT Group AB

Delivering a high quality customer experience (CX) in the modern digital economy is increasingly based on gaining a data advantage. Widespread use of internet-enabled devices has created a hyper-connected world where customers expect fast, seamless service delivery. Organisations are having to retune their delivery models to remain relevant and competitive, as slow and unresponsive service will no longer be accepted by customers.

Seeking an advantage in CX, more organisations are exploring the possibilities of artificial intelligence (AI). AI has the potential to analyse and process massive volumes of data from different sources in order to create a more meaningful CX. Implementing AI into customer interactions provides organisations with deep knowledge of customers, allowing them to offer an experience that’s unique to their needs.

The sharp rise in AI readiness and maturity is highlighted by Gartner who predict that 85% of customer relationships will take place without human interaction by 2020. Being able to balance the level of automation that AI provides with personalisation is crucial to organisational success.

Becoming customer centric

Across industries, a tightening competitive landscape has meant that CX stands as a key differentiator. In fact, two thirds of customers have stopped doing business with organisations because of a poor customer service experience.

Organisations are therefore embracing technology that can help deliver on customer expectations and attract ongoing loyalty. While brands aspire to be customer centric, only 13% of business leaders describe their organisation as ‘truly customer centric.’ Customers now control the relationship, placing the responsibility on the organisation to live up to expectations. Meeting these expectations requires a shift in how they interact with customers, with greater focus on proactively serving needs and innovating the customer journey.

Organisations will need to build AI capabilities that benefit customers into their CX strategies. This includes collecting, preparing and analysing data, and then using the resulting insights to remove the frictions that can hinder customer experiences.

Adopting AI technologies

More businesses are investigating and trialing AI as part of their CX efforts. Early segments interested in AI have included transportation (e.g. self-driving car manufacturers), financial services (such as mobile payments) and those industries where sensor-based data is integral to operations (such as aviation and logistics).

For organisations looking to explore the possibilities of AI as part of their CX strategies, there are several areas they may consider:

Predictive analytics

Predictive capabilities can help businesses to optimise their resources. Creating an AI platform provides the opportunity to use previous customer data to generate insights that can optimise their services. This includes being able to forecast future customer needs with greater accuracy.

Achieving this requires vast amounts of data from available sources such as geolocation data and online interactions. For example, where organisations offer a mobile app to customers they can use previous interactions to generate predictive capabilities, but they need infrastructure behind the app to use the data for customer service benefits.

Supply chain

A major factor in delivering on customer needs is having the supply chain in place to deliver on demand. Adopting AI capabilities allows organisations to enhance their supply chain in order to more efficiently manage crucial aspects such as stock levels and service delivery times. As an example, in our work we’ve seen food servicing companies use AI to make sure they’re able to resource effectively and cater for periods of heightened demand.

Chatbots and virtual assistants

The nature of modern CX is such that organisations rarely get a second chance if they fail to deliver for customers. For this reason, it’s vitally important to optimise every interaction. Any organisation that fails to innovate its approach to customer relations now risks being seen as outdated and losing customers to more forward-thinking competitors.

The use of chatbots and virtual assistants is growing in popularity as a way of automating everyday interactions. Chatbots allow consistent brand experience across digital and physical channels, and personalised comms tailored to the individual customer’s service needs.

A 2018 Gartner study predicted that 25% of customer service operations would integrate virtual customer assistants or chatbot technology over the following two years. That increase in predicted usage suggests that this technology can support customer service teams in ensuring a smoother customer experience across all channels.

Using hybrid cloud infrastructure to explore AI

To realise the potential of AI technologies, organisations need a hybrid cloud infrastructure that can handle the amount of data amassed by AI and customer experience transformation. Once an organisation has established the data sources that will fuel its AI engine, it can then begin to architect the right solution.

Making decisions on where the data should be located, how it should be processed and how the platform will evolve over time cannot be made in silo. Business and IT should work together in the early stages to develop the systems best suited to the organisation’s needs and decide which data will run on-premises versus which should run on public cloud.

We help our customers with the practicalities of building an AI platform. From establishing the architecture through to making the solutions cost effective, we understand our customers’ technical needs and can help them to link it to the business side. We’ve been providing data centre infrastructure solutions and services as well as managed cloud services to enterprise for more than a decade. We bring together a partner network of cloud service providers to help our customers adopt the innovative technologies that are driving the future of enterprise AI.

Within this network, we work with our partner NetApp to deliver the data management services that are essential for successful AI implementations. These include NetApp’s ONTAP AI packages, which combine NetApp’s storage data management capabilities with state-of-the-art networking and compute to deliver an AI platform architected for performance, scale and the lowest latency and cost.

As the pace of customer demands increases, we help our customers to evolve their CX strategies and data management approach in order to stay relevant and deliver a level of services that makes them to become truly customer centric.

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