Democratise or Die: Why AI is the Key to Transforming Data to Customer Experience Insights

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In this special guest feature, Mark Thompson, Chief Operating Officer with New Zealand based software and services firm Touchpoint Group, discusses the reasons why artificial intelligence (AI) is the key breakthrough in democratizing customer experience insights from data. Mark has 20 years of commercial experience in sales and general management, with 5 years at Touchpoint.

It’s not just a buzzword – Artificial Intelligence really is everywhere these days. With a recent Pegasystems study revealing half the people who encounter AI don’t even know when they are experiencing it, we are now in a time where this technology is seamlessly integrated in our lives. From the virtual assistance of Siri or Alexa, the tailored recommendations Netflix offers you, and even the way your Gmail account knows what emails to filter to your ‘social’ or ‘promotions’ folder, AI is augmenting our experiences on a daily basis.

While the same study revealed 70% of consumers have a fear of AI, what these consumers may not realize is that AI is a valuable ally for delivering a powerful customer experience, augmenting a human understanding of customer attitudes and behaviors through deeper data analysis. If AI will indeed drive the next industrial revolution, it’s one that will reflect a new age of democratized data insights.

To understand why these developments in AI are reshaping the game for customer experience professionals, we should come back to why we explore data in the first place. Both individually and at an organizational level, we want the best quality insights, as soon as possible,and certainly faster than our competitors.

Traditionally, finding valuable insights in data requires a brief to the analytics team (or person), a potentially lengthy process of data sampling and preparation, analysis, experimentation, repeat analysis and eventually a resulting report that more often than not lacks any compelling insights. Not ideal for making quick decisions. Fortunately, with increasing application of AI technologies comes the democratization of analysis. Interfaces become more intuitive to the user, and the combination of an easier system and more information at your fingertips makes it possible for anyone to find valuable insights in their data, even without deep domain knowledge or trained analysts.

This becomes a game changer when we consider the large volume of data that inundates businesses on a day-to-day basis. With endless streams of big data available in traditional structured and transactional data sets and now even more so in the wider, deeper and richer unstructured data sets, the combined power of big data and analytics now starts to provide exponentially more contextual, relevant and refined information to directly support CX decisions. Decisions that used to take weeks or months (or in many cases could not be supported by reliable insights at all due to lack of analytical resources) can now be made confidently in moments.

This democratization of ‘meaning’ isn’t just useful, it’s necessary. Currently, the demand for analytical resources and tools outstrips supply. A recent Gartner survey showed that 90% of all data in the world has been created only in the past two years, but that data is unstructured – words, language, videos etc. Even without the predicted 60% growth of this space there aren’t enough resources to manage it. If we continue to rely on the conventional data analysis methods, businesses will be faced with serious bottlenecks, without the resources sufficient to make the key data-driven decisions needed across all departments.

Coming back to the supply chain of analytics, this world exists because of decisions that need to be made or understood through data. While traditionally your analyst runs a series of models to process this data, the amount of existing combinations of data make it a process that can produce weeks of work for a human analyst. With a cognitive analytics solution, this can be done in minutes. The continued democratization is to develop AI like this that can do the heavy lifting for organizations, so analysts can focus on providing answers and insights rather than ‘results’ that can be highly subjective and based on highly selective methods. Combining this approach with AI that is intuitive and easier to use makes it possible for more ‘normal’ business users to understand their data without going through analysts.

If commoditization of products and services continues to make the competitive landscape one of customer experience alone, the key to surviving and thriving as a business will be based on your ability to ‘out decision’ your competitor, faster than your competitor. AI offers organizations not just the best, but the only future-proof solution.


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