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The Benefits of Integrating AI and ML to Maximize Operational Efficiency

In this special guest feature, Zach Thomas, VP of Product Marketing, Conga, discusses the ways emerging technologies like AI and ML can expedite business operations to accelerate revenue. Zachary brings more than 20 years of experience in the technology sector to his role as Vice President of Product Marketing at Conga. Prior to Conga, he served as Senior Director, Head of Cloud Applications at Ellucian, a leading provider of software and services designed for higher education. His previous roles include leadership positions at Saba Software, Sage, Oracle, and Ultimate Software. Thomas holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Political Science from Hamilton College in Clinton, New York.

From predicting COVID-19 mortality to content personalization, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are expanding the possibilities for organizations across the globe. As a result, more companies and industry-leading firms are increasing their investments in AI. 

Within various disciplines, human teams are competing against high-performing AI-wielding teams for customer attention and sales. This is simply not a fair fight. AI can serve as a digital colleague that can take over mundane tasks, give operating teams deeper insights and better coordinate customer engagements all in an effort to maximize operational efficiency. Instead of working against AI, teams can work with it. 

The following are some of the top benefits organizations can experience by integrating AI and ML into their operations. 

Revolutionizing Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM)

While CLMs are tools mostly for legal teams to address the velocity and consistency in contracting, injecting an integrated AI solution into the mix provides the opportunity to operationalize these agreements and distribute the necessary data and information to those responsible for their performance.

To operationalize contracts, companies today can exercise advanced AI solutions to automatically extract, transform, validate, and normalize the key terms that govern the relationship. The accuracy and completeness of this process is critical. Companies need a lot more than the party names and the expiration date to capture the forecasted revenue, control spend, proactively address risk, and ensure obligations are met.

Personalizing Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Whether searching Google or shopping on Amazon, consumers are accustomed to living in a digitized world that constantly adjusts to their preferences and needs. It is important that businesses keep this customization in mind while building relationships with customers.  

Arming sales teams with AI can increase accuracy, and therefore trust, with the help of customer relationship management (CRM). AI algorithms within CRMs help automate segmentation, purchase history, online interactions and may predict behaviors. High-performing sales teams are already using AI to generate insights, prioritize opportunities, and automate data entry into CRMs. AI has the potential to enhance prospective and retained customer experiences, and help sales teams make high-level decisions quickly and accurately. 

For example, a CRM can flag to a sales rep when a prospect has opened an email. The sales rep can then make a perfectly-timed call when the prospect has them top of mind. This speed can sometimes make the difference between a successful sale and a missed opportunity. And this is just one example. AI can predict consumer behavior, catch anomalies, track spending history, centralize lead information and communicate with potential leads through a variety of integrated communication channels. 

AI is also critical in helping high-performing sales teams with lead scoring and flagging. This technology can take the guesswork out of the sales process by suggesting sales teams’ next steps to close deals. In order for sales teams to stay ahead of their competitors and close more deals, while still delivering a top-notch buying experience, they must go beyond using their CRM as an expensive Rolodex. Rather, AI should be viewed as a tool that helps sales teams leverage this advanced intelligence in a highly competitive environment. 

Building Long-Term Trust

Many worry that using AI to replace historically human-to-human sales relationships will decrease customer trust. On the contrary, AI enhances the human aspect of sales — it doesn’t simply replace it. For one, AI gives CRM the potential to automate time-consuming busy work, giving salespeople more time for human-to-human customer interaction. Additionally, personalized communication ensures customers receive emails that are tailored to them, helping to drive customer trust. 

When salespeople have the tools to communicate more effectively, they can invest in customer relationships. This puts an emphasis on customer retention instead of just customer acquisition, as leads are encouraged to stay with a company they’ve trusted from the get-go. In fact, 47 percent of CRM users  say customer retention is significantly impacted by software. CRM puts an emphasis not just on lead generation and acquisition, but on their long-term relationship. When powered by AI, CRM is an investment in customer trust for the long haul. 

Maximizing Employee Efficiency

Businesses can maximize their staff’s billable hours by integrating AI into their everyday operations. In fact, 44 percent of organizations using AI report reduced business costs, according to McKinsey.

Furthermore, a study conducted by Inside Sales found 64 percent of salespeople spend most of their time on non-revenue generating tasks such as arranging their schedules and account maintenance. AI can help sales reps by automating several manual tasks, making sales teams more effective and productive.

The Larger Digital Transformation Conversation

Business leaders have woken up to the benefits of digital transformation. They are connecting systems to customers, enabling automation to reduce unnecessary manual processes, and quickly analyzing new data to identify areas of opportunity. Organizations must continue to invest in the right technologies to take advantage of these opportunities and further transform their business processes and modernize operations.

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