AI has a lot of opportunities to flourish, but what will be the major thrust to put AI into action? Will it be the study of data to find interesting and essential patterns for organizations to act on? WIll it be to assist organizations to make better decisions? Will it be the demand to make processes smart enough to adapt to customer expectation? My assertion is that automation will be the thrust that many will get behind. It's the one thrust that executives can get behind because they can get benefits early thus obviating risk. Let's look at the two sides of this assertion.
Automation Will Be the Key Driver of AI:
If you look at the traditional use of technology, it has always been about automating manual tasks or making resources more productive. Why would it be any different now? Organizations are always looking for cost advantages. Right now the economies are clicking despite all of the rumors of wars (trade or otherwise). This means that AI can contribute to many channels of benefit without any significant impact on the bottom line. In fact, more attention can be given to things like better customer experiences and more effective decisions. Just watch what happens when the economy cools off. Automation will take a strong march across the organization. The MBAs and CPAs will unite to drive costs into a corner. Executive management might give a nod to other efforts with a wink, but you can count on automation under all scenarios.
Automation is Just One of Many Drivers for AI:
Sure automation is a no brainer for investment, but narrowly focused executives will be blind-sided by the customer excellence movement. This time the movement will also be active during any economic down coming our way. The notion that business can dictate a clunky experience and expect a positive response is sorely wrong. There will be those organizations that will stand in the breach of balancing customer wants and goals with organizational goals. These organizations will also value adding AI to customer journeys that even span beyond their four walls. The key touchpoints and moments of truth will need AI to stay adaptable in real time. These savvy organizations will be looking for patterns of success, even in down economic times.
While I believe that a balanced approach is the better approach, cost-saving automation will always go ahead of everything else initially. The key is to make sure automation does not dominate to the point of stealing the future of good customer relationships sowing the seeds of the ultimate destruction of some organizations. Convenience and customer excellence will win the war over time. Let's not inflict pain to our customers, but let's combine smart journeys with the power of process automation. Let's keep organizational and customer goals in balance folks and remember that smarts are necessary everywhere!