Monday, April 27, 2020

The Deck is Stacked Against Customers

I always thought that customers were always right and serving them was always in the best interest of organizations and society as a whole. I had proof that this was the case in that organizations scrambled to install CRM systems, Mobile-first, Omni-Channel, and better processes with improved customer experiences. I actually expected that the organizations that were serving me would get better at customer excellence over time. Reality has set in recently as my service satisfaction keeps going down and I have to deal with websites that don't understand my needs.  Customer pain abounds as represented in a blog I wrote last year. Click here for the customer pain index.

Prospects are Treated Better than Loyal Customers

Buyer beware is an essential business principle that is always in play. Today there is a trend that is permeating in many industries. This is where the prospects get the good upfront deals and the loyal customers get raises in costs for no apparent reasons. In fact, many companies are now hiding the detail by sending summary invoices or just grabbing a payment from one of your accounts hoping you don't see or take the time to question the increase. Is this the way to treat your good base of customers? No, but it is happening all over.

Organizations are Just Putting Make-Up on Ugly Systems

While we are seeing better and better interfaces to package and legacy bespoke systems, the systems underneath are quite silo in behavior and data. While some of the underlying complexities can be hidden, there is only so much an organization can do to buffer customers from organizational and system complexity. While this is getting better, there still is a fundamental problem with the lack of supporting real customer journeys that cross organizational boundaries, Even customer aimed poster child, Amazon, can't track packages well once they hit the United States Postal Service.

Organizations Prioritize Their Goals Over Customer Goals

If you really knew how organizations incent customer service representatives, you would be shocked. They get bonuses and awards based on the number and duration of the calls. This is why they make you feel that you are just in their way. The really good reps figure out how to fool the system by putting you on hold or passing you to another person to help you get your outcomes while preserving their rewards. In some organizations, there are punishments for those who take longer on calls or handle under the average number of calls. Customer goals are rarely in play unless they happen to match the happy paths for organizations.

Customer Service Playbooks are Too Narrow

Organizations design guidance to customer service representatives in very specific and narrow ways. Rarely are exceptions considered even though they fool you by saying "the calls are recorded". The recordings are used to feed managers and CPAs with optimization of organizational goals in mind. The numbers are aimed at meeting internal optimization goals and not the customer's needs. The recording should be used to expand the playbooks too.

Systems and Supports are not Aimed at Real Customer Journeys

Real customer journeys go beyond individual departments to an across the departmental experience. Most organizations believe that the customer's experience starts and stops with their organization except to collect the payments. Organizations rarely look at the whole customer journey that is driven by their individual or aggregate goals. Some organizations actually measure the real journey within their complete organization, but few look beyond their scope of service. Fewer still look at individual customer's goals and really measure customer success.

Net; Net:

Organizations are patching all of the customer potholes over with surveys that just make you want to vote for that poor service representative that may have managed to make it work for you. Most of the surveys are designed to keep the systems as is so that rewards land in the pockets of the managers and sometimes the customer service representatives.  We are a long way from customer transparency and empathy. Any agility is used for profit motives and it looks to get worse. The CPAs are winning and the customers are losing. Click here to find out why.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

How Can AI Super Charge RPA?

We have seen a rush to automation for time, money, and elimination of grief. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has been on the cutting edge of this wave of automation benefits. RPA is changing its focus from just automating assisting or eliminating mundane work to seeding automated worker bots into processes and systems. The level of intelligence of these bots or agents is going up, thanks to AI. This post will concentrate on the new kinds of work that RPA is taking on now and in the future.

Today without AI

Today RPA is good at mundane tasks and reducing nasty work for people.  Typical tasks would include auto-keying, screen/form integration, application or data integration, automated decisions, and rudimentary task management. It can reach to simple task sequencing and simple resource orchestration. 

Today with Machine Learning, Mining & Analytics

As RPA moves towards straight-through processing, it will have to do forms of event and pattern recognition, informed decisions, and smart actions. This means that process instances, events, and other forms of journey data will have to be inspected and learned from at greater speeds. RPA may also act in an unsupervised fashion to adapt to change.

Tomorrow with NLP and Unstructured Content

Tasks that are knowledge-intensive will also need the help of the combination of AI & RPA. Natural Language Processing (NLP) can search structured and unstructured data for the presence of knowledge represented by the presence of entities and relations. This emergent knowledge can be captured by flexible knowledge taxonomies that can be leveraged in journeys, processes, or systems. The mix of unstructured data will also likely include image, voice, and video

Tomorrow with Deep Learning & Deductive Analytics

As AI advances to include right-brained activities such as judgment, particularly in context, RPA can make informed decisions based on leveraging the combination of AI & analytics. Deductions can be made after integrated information sources and knowledge worlds are run through advanced algorithms to take smarter action that considers multiple contexts.

Tomorrow with Cognitive AI & Predictive Analytics

AI can learn to think, learn, and project by employing predictive analytics, RPA should be able to intercept exceptions and match these patterns or events to expected or unexpected, opportunities, and threats. This puts organizations in a position to think through and respond to emergent behaviors and markets.

Net; Net:

As the combination of AI & RPA progress over time, the agents/bots will play a bigger role in making more automation possible to the point of completing more complicated work and shifting more satisfying work to human partners. At a minimum, these automation agents will assist employees and customers better than before.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Role of Models in the Emergent COVID-19 Pandemic

Watch Ed Peters, Irene Lyakovetsky, and I discuss the role of models in emergent situations where the data might not be complete or correct. One could speculate that we overreacted because of a flawed model on one hand or speculate that we save countless numbers of lives because we acted when we did; a flawed model or not. The economic impact of shutting down a 20 trillion dollar economy steaming along is immense. Also, the tremendous potential loss of life with no intervention is soul-shaking. Did we do it right? Because models are often flawed, should we cast them aside or should freshen them with real-time data like we did and are continuing to do? Review our Videos listed below or watch the full episode by clicking here

Role of  Models in COVID-19

All Models are Wrong, but Some are Useful
We can Learn from Flawed Models 
Localizing Models and Supply Chains
Boosting Digital Transformation

Make sure you follow or like our videos that appeal to you. Comments are appreciated to either or You can comment on the post as well. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Journey Intelligence is Under-Valued

It is a known fact that 75% of our customers are will to walk away from our respective organizations. Besides, almost 90% of customers say that poor service damages the impression of any brand. I think organizations believe these statistics and want to do something about these strong trends; however, they may not be going about it in the best way. We see organizations jumping on the bandwagons of CRM, retail online, mobile-first, omnichannel, customer-experience (CX), chatbots, smart digital-assistants customer journeys, and hyper-personalization. The question for organizations is, what should they do first, and how to sustain a true customer excellence program?

I think the key to increased customer satisfaction and sustained loyalty is Journey Intelligence. Understanding your customers and how they are shifting, almost in real-time, is quite dependent on journey intelligence. This isn't just about collecting and storing a reservoir of the customer and journey data as part of a big data push. It means truly listening to customers and matching it to their behavior on their customer journey, which may start before your organization's process and for activity beyond them. If organizations are serious about their true customer experience and want to guide their customer excellence programs, they will be spooling up a true Journey intelligence effort.

This means expanding the collection of data or information about the personas that the customers play over and above simple segmentation, the journey interactions of all personas involved with striking an outcome balance between the organization and the customers, the processes and systems leveraged, the technologies leveraged and the people resources at every touchpoint. Once this expansion of customer rich data has been completed, the next step is to add appropriate intelligence by mapping on the customer events on timelines, customer goal progressions, and the effectiveness of all resource support of customer goals.

This group of analysis/inference results will be over and above the normal metrics of revenue, retention, acquisition, churn, repeat purchases, and other traditional analysis. These enable teams and functional areas to not just understand who, what when, and where, why customers did what they did. This results in a turbo charge customer intelligence and even enable new forms of customer journey analysis. Organizations will also learn more about their customer classes and individual tendencies to inform future interactions. Journey intelligence will guide the efforts needed to up the customer excellence game plan. This is an ongoing challenge and set of efforts that will emerge. 

Net; Net:

Leaving Journey Intelligence out of the mix is a real danger for organizations as they falsely believe that they know what the real customer journey is for their customers. This is not necessarily a sin of commission, bit more of omission. They generally only consider the standard paths they over and assume the complete journey occurs in and around their particular organization. If organizations truly orchestrate relevant and consistently great experiences, they will both see reduced costs over time and revenue increases from refugees from the competition.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

For Those Who Want to Celebrate This Season

Peace to all.

During the spring of 2020 and this trying COVID 19 Pandemic, there is an opportunity to appreciate and celebrate the convergence of Easter and Passover. Both holidays celebrate deliverance offered by God. We Christians are praying for the Passover of this current pandemic for all.

The first Passover was a deadly angel of death that killed all the firstborn in homes not covered by the blood of sacrifice. Good Friday is about the blood of Christ sacrificing for all of us. Easter Sunday is about the resurrection of Christ who is the firstborn to pave the way to eternity for all that believe. I praise God for the free will to chose him or not. Respect to all that consider worshiping the Lord no matter the decision. Celebration for those who chose to worship the Lord. I hope for all to survive the COVID 19 Pandemic. Thanks to God for both acts of deliverance.

The Good Friday God:

The Passover Yahweh:

The Easter God:

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

AI at the Edge: Creating Coordinated Autonomy

Today organizations have to deal with so many emergent behaviors that the notion of central control as the only coping mechanism seems to be receding as a dominant management model.  Freedom must be doled out further from the centrist idea by creating goals, constraints, boundaries, and allowable edge behaviors. Someday, software and hardware agents will negotiate their contribution to business outcomes on their own, but until then, organizations will have to prepare themselves by managing coordinated autonomy.

Learning About "The potential" at the Edge

Edge computing is a form of distributed computing that brings computation and data storage closer to the location where it is needed, to improve response times and provide better actions. Now, AI on Edge can offer a whole lot of new possibilities. In Edge AI, the AI and other algorithms are processed locally on a hardware device or a distributed software agent. It uses data that is generated from the device/agent and processes it to give real-time insights in less than a few milliseconds and allows for pattern recognition, fast decisions, and better actions to deal with emergent conditions. We have seen practical applications in smart buildings, smart cities, and intelligent industry 4.0 supply chains. While most of the visible examples are in and around physical infrastructure, AI at the edge is starting to work at the customer, partner, and employee edge interfaces as well. This is leading to more utilization of software bots, assistants, and agents.

Trusting AI & Algorithms to Increase Freedom Levels

Today machines and software are programmed with rules that are preplanned and inflexible for changing conditions. Somebody needs to program those rules, decisions, and actions ahead of time. Low code or no code shortens the time to change for emergent conditions. Another great approach is to learn for the emergence and adapt the rules, decisions, and actions inflight. This requires a different trust level than in the past, particularly with unsupervised learning. By giving hardware and software goals and constraints, these freedom levels can broaden to deal with faster emergence. Organizations will have to learn new freedom and trust levels to take advantage of the speeds necessary to compete.

Enabling Digital Twins for Manage Adaptability

Every physical device and software agent will have a digital form of an interactive model that represents its logical self (twin). These models can be watched in interaction with other digital twins to observe, manage, and change their behavior. Mining the behavior of the digital twin will create an observable behavior that can be overlaid on timelines or other forms of observation. The digital twin is a practical way to understand if a hardware or software agent is behaving well or badly so that managers can take appropriate actions.

Net; Net:

Organizations will have to deal with emergent behavior whose footprints will likely be in big, fast, and dark data, events, or content. This will require new competencies, skills, and coordinated sets of digital technologies. Organizations that embrace and take advantage of emergence will likely leverage AI at the edge and manage it well for their competitive differentiation. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Art for 1Q 2020

I hope you and yours are safe and healthy during these pandemic days. I delivered on a promise to my Grandson and painted Kale a dragon that we kind of designed on our last visit to Austin before Christmas. It was a fun piece to do even though there is a bit of a sinister feel to it. I also completed a couple more fractals for you to see. If you are interested in seeing my portfolio or buying a piece, please click here

                                                            Kales Dragon

                                                             Circle of Life

                                                            Bright Agent