Is your business AI ready?

By Gianni Giacomelli. Posted 14 February 2018
Survey reveals artificial intelligence changes enterprise culture employees and staff

 

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The use of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies like digital assistants, chatbots, and customized shopping recommendations on Amazon is not perceived to be as pervasive as some think.

Only 42% percent of consumers in a recent survey by Genpact, a global professional services firm, say they interact with some form of AI regularly (i.e. once a week or more). The study is part of a three-part research series exploring AI perceptions of C-suite and other senior business executives, the workforce, and consumers.

The undeniably increasing pervasiveness of these technologies carries significant implications for work in the future, and consumer preferences around the customer service experience.

As worker and consumer concerns around artificial intelligence continue to evolve, it is critical for businesses to understand and be responsive to these issues to best succeed in the new AI world.

Little job fears today but concern for future generations

To what extent will robots and automation technologies impact how people work in the future? It depends on who you ask.

Among senior management at companies that are AI leaders (those businesses getting the most impact from AI), 79% expect employees to be comfortable working with robots by 2020.

Yet, only 38% of businesses currently offer training and reskilling programs. Additionally, 1/3 of workers surveyed worry that they will not have the money or time for necessary retraining to help them work with AI.

The workforce does not seem overly concerned about AI taking over jobs today – only 10% of workers surveyed strongly agree that AI puts their vocations at risk. However, 58% of all respondents worry that AI threatens jobs for their children and future generations.

Businesses will need to step up reskilling and training program efforts to match the changing skills and competencies necessary for AI-driven work.

Additionally, academic institutions will play a pivotal role integrating curriculums and programs that equip students with a combination of technical skills and intangibles like critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity.

Younger customers AI-ready

The application of AI and other digital technologies yields many advantages for customer experience and service. Whether experiencing a more seamless process when following up on an insurance claim, or receiving financial advice from digital banking assistants, the benefits are plentiful.

Do consumers believe AI will improve customer experience and usher in broader benefits for their daily lives? It varies by age group.

Younger generations interact with AI more frequently and cite its benefits. They are 2x more likely than older people surveyed to say AI is making their lives better. Moreover, only 1/3 of Gen-Z and millennials strongly agree that they prefer human interaction rather than AI, compared to 57% of baby boomers.

C-suite more optimistic than customers and workers

While AI offers a range of benefits, businesses need to explore different options to encourage adoption. The study found senior management is often more optimistic about AI than their customers.

For instance, only 12% of consumers surveyed would prefer talking to a chatbot, even if they receive faster and more accurate service. Conversely, senior business executives, by a 3-1 margin, believe their customers will prefer chatbot service by 2020. This gap demonstrates that businesses must be very clearly attuned to shifting and evolving consumer preferences.

Particularly, businesses need to acknowledge that their customers are wary about AI’s impact on privacy. Nearly 3/4 of consumers surveyed expressed reservations. While companies can personalize and improve brand experience by using personal data, 58% of consumers do not feel comfortable with this approach.

The unease about data protection underscores the need for companies to be transparent about how they use customer information, and what measures they are taking to ensure robust safeguards. Companies should use technology that can provide greater visibility on why an AI makes its decisions, which will give consumers added assurance and drive more strategic business outcomes.

Senior executives are more optimistic about robots than their employees. 40% of workers indicate they would be comfortable working with robots by 2020. Nearly 80% of respondents in senior management, at global companies that are AI leaders, believe their employees will work comfortably with robots by 2020.

Change management key to realize AI benefits

The gap between C-suites’ views compared to customers’ and workers’ points to potential challenges for businesses to realize AI’s benefits. Still, most employees see positive impacts from AI in the workplace.

They cite time savings and reduction in human errors as among top benefits, and younger generations acknowledge these advantages even more prominently. Many consumers cite similar benefits.

The big question for senior management is how to effectively encourage and adopt human-machine collaboration. The key is a top-down culture that embraces AI, learning, and training at all levels, within a comprehensive change management framework.

Gianni Giacomelli is business leader, Digital Solutions, at Genpact, a global professional services firm focused on delivering digital transformation.