Thursday, May 19, 2022

How AI Can Build More Resilient Businesses in the Pandemic and Beyond

As COVID-19 continues to drive disruption globally, some companies may be questioning whether they should be pursuing their digital transformation ambitions. However, businesses need to consider before applying the brakes on innovation projects. For many, the addition of artificial intelligence (AI) in their strategies will help them survive the pandemic and thrive beyond it.

With advanced business modeling and data analysis delivering insights, AI can provide companies with the adaptive capabilities required to remain resilient throughout the current situation, and ultimately drive long-term success. Indeed, harnessing AI can help businesses create the ultimate competitive advantage- better customer experience. Genpact’s latest AI360 study provides perspectives from 500 global senior executives and 4,000 workers, and UK executives about top AI benefits.

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Before deciding whether to pause AI implementations or not, companies must consider their options strategically. Crucially, they should be assessing which efforts will bring the greatest value right now, and how they can make the most of AI to create a better customer experience that will ensure deeper relationships.

There are three key areas businesses should prioritize:

Focusing employees on the most important tasks

The current mass shift to remote working has highlighted the value of digital operations. Many businesses have found that with the right smart tools — particularly online collaboration and cloud-based platforms — they can continue to function effectively and even more efficiently than before. In Genpact’s survey, senior executives say a key AI benefit is freeing up employees to focus on more important responsibilities. With AI shouldering the burden of labor and time-intensive repetitive admin tasks, unrestricted creative thinkers and sales drivers have more time to redirect their efforts to deliver the best possible experiences to customers.

Empowering workforce knowledge

AI can deliver vital intelligence to help businesses make tough decisions faster, which is even more critical during the pandemic. For example, demand and supply problems can be difficult to predict in the current environment, and AI can help arm employees with more intelligence to respond quickly across the enterprise. By empowering their employees with AI tools, they can connect the dots and analyze trends quickly, with technology that continually learns and creates scenarios to enable more strategic decisions. But this only works if companies educate their employees about how to use AI effectively.

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The majority of UK senior executives in Genpact’s study agree that AI upskilling is important: 61% say they’re talking about providing employees with training. But it seems these good intentions aren’t always translating into action today, with less than a third (31%) of UK respondents saying their companies currently provide reskilling. Clearly, it’s an urgent need for businesses to bridge the skills gap.

Maintaining customer confidence

While two-thirds of global consumers in Genpact’s survey feel AI has positively impacted their lives, 60% say they will still expect to be served by humans when they look ahead to the next two years. Businesses must, therefore, keep a careful watch on how to integrate AI with customer experience processes to ensure consumers feel comfortable with interactions, and ultimately drive loyalty.

Additionally, while more than half (53%) of global consumers are comfortable with companies using smart tech to manage their data, 67% are concerned that machine-based decision-making might lead to discrimination against them.

As intelligent tools become a more common feature of customer-facing touchpoints and enhance the analytics that drives decisions, it is essential for businesses to ensure AI applications align with what customers actually want for a superior experience. This is particularly important as the global pandemic drives huge shifts in how consumers decide what to buy and from whom.

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The steps businesses take today can significantly impact their fortunes tomorrow, and AI plays a vital role. But finding the best path through difficult times will require a considered strategy for maximizing AI opportunities. To secure sustained success, companies must allocate resources to areas that will increase their productivity and competitive edge. By empowering employees with the knowledge to drive maximum value from AI and freeing them up to think more creatively about important decisions, businesses can vastly improve customer experiences and build resilience to inevitable and continued change.

Vikram Mahidhar
Vikram Mahidhar is an entrepreneur, innovator, and advisor. At Genpact, he leads the Digital Transformation business, which drives large-scale business transformation using artificial intelligence, analytics, intelligent automation, and cloud for Genpact clients, which include a quarter of the Global Fortune 500.

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