What is the journey to automation? Where do we start?
I am very much an outside-in CIO, desperately keen to understand the customer journey and capability gaps right across the whole organisation, not just the tech team.
It should come as no surprise, then, that I completely agree with Andrew Burgess' assertion that you need to understand and agree with the organisation's objectives before you begin to contemplate the rationale for automation.
As is the traditional rationale for steady state IT organisations (assuming you have 'fixed' the base technology), the demand from business colleagues is the use of IT to reduce costs. This is absolutely in the realm of swivel chair replacement technology such as RPA (Robotic Process Automation).
There are already countless use case studies from the realm of Blueprism, UI Path and Automation Anywhere, but understanding which one is best to use for your estate can often require some help to get started - which is where someone like Andrew comes in...
At ArrowXL, we recently engaged Andrew to do a review piece on an incumbent supplier of a contact centre solution who was offering some 'RPA' to find the right solution for us as a business. Not surprisingly, Andrew's first question was, "What are you trying to achieve?".
As organisations become more comfortable with RPA, they begin to evolve their interactive voice recognition capability. At ArrowXL we recently implemented some pattern recognition to advise customers contacting the contact centre of when they could expect to receive their delivery (the number one reason people telephone, solved in 20 seconds without troubling our small but very busy customer experience team).
A well-known and high performing customer experience team at a water company, which is further along the automation journey, recently used call recording and speech analytics to improve the capture of taste and odour quality enquiries. They discovered, using this automated data capture with Google Analytics against the customer database, that some of their customer data had been incorrectly captured; and they were able to dramatically improve the customer satisfaction levels through the use of process analytics.
Through my network I have learnt that there are a number of start-up organisations that have developed the algorithmns and compute power to be able to support artifical intelligence in more traditional sectors that require closed infrastructure, such as banking and government.
It should be noted that automation innovation is not limited to the domain of cutting edge cloud technology such as Google Analytics; I saw a brilliant example of AI with the Google Assistant on my morning LinkedIn feed today, for example.
The lazy CIO used to say that the journey to automation starts tomorrow, as we are 20+ years away from true AI. However, with demonstrations such as Google AI Assistant I am not sure that we can wait until tomorrow any longer.
James Robbins is CIO and Transformation Director at ArrowXL
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