Three Things That Are Most Overlooked While Planning AI Projects
by Mark Marone | March 22, 2021
How may your AI or other digital transformation project impact your corporate culture & client experience?
- While AI is transforming the workplace and the business environment, the unintended consequences of technology can backfire, both internally and externally.
- Negative experiences with AI can cause companies to lose their customers and damage their corporate culture.
- To get the benefits of AI and maintain a healthy corporate culture, organizations need to take deliberate steps to prepare the workplace and think through potential impacts as part of the planning process.
Your organization is eager to put artificial intelligence (AI) to work – you’ve got good data, a legitimate business problem to solve and the resources you need to do it. What are potential obstacles?
In a recent survey by Dale Carnegie & Associates, 76% of U.S. respondents at the level of Director or higher said they were at least moderately worried about the potential impact of AI on their organization’s corporate culture.
• Technology, in general, has a history of inflicting unintended consequences. Take the simple example of interactive voice response (IVR) menus that began replacing live receptionists at many businesses decades ago. Instead of talking immediately with a person, callers are given an automated greeting that routes them through options on the keypad or through voice recognition.
• IVR systems were intended to reduce costs, help callers find answers to routine questions, and provide a self-service option for common tasks. Additionally, they would direct callers to the right person or department for more complex issues.
What happened? Customers of many businesses were frustrated at having to listen to irrelevant information, having their responses misinterpreted by the voice recognition software, and wasting time. Many began “zeroing out” (pressing “0” or selecting a response that took them to a human agent), defeating the whole purpose of the system.
The business need was there, the technology existed to solve the problem, but there was a mismatch between the experience that customers expected and what they got. The result: customers defected. Studies (Purdue University, Interactions Group) found that 63%-83% stopped using a product or service after a bad interaction with an IVR.
• The decisions company leaders make shape the organization’s culture, especially when it comes to decisions around which technology to implement (including AI).The good news is, you can learn from others as you plan your next AI project.
Three things that should be top of mind as you are planning to integrate AI :
1. Educate your employees.
AI can sound scary, especially for those who know little about it. Create awareness of how AI is being used successfully elsewhere to create confidence for future projects. Our survey demonstrated a strong correlation between people’s level of familiarity with AI and how positive their expectations were for its future impact.
2. Consider the potential impact on the CX (customer experience) and EX (employee experience) you want to deliver.
If you are using AI to personalize a customer experience, then be sure to consider how your customers think about privacy issues. Are you considering AI to monitor and improve productivity? Then ask, how will employees interpret that? What impact will it have on trust and morale? Go beyond the question, “Can we solve this problem with AI?” to also ask, “Should we?”
3. Take steps to protect the power of a strong corporate culture
A positive, adaptable and flexible company culture helps organizations more successfully tackle change initiatives of every kind. And any AI project, regardless of size or purpose, is going to bring change to your workplace.
What’s left for humans?
As we embark on “The AI Revolution,” with all the potential it promises, keep in mind that it will be up to humans to continue to provide the creativity, good judgment and social intelligence to make it work.
For more information on the implications of “The AI Revolution” download the white paper, Beyond Technology: Preparing People for Success in the Era of AI.
Mark Marone, PhD. is the director of research and thought leadership for Dale Carnegie and Associates where he is responsible for ongoing research into current issues facing leaders, employees and organizations world-wide. He publishes frequently on various topics including leadership, the employee/customer experience and sales. Mark can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.