Gartner had made a bold prediction at some point in the previous decade, that over 80% of businesses will be competing solely on the basis of customer experience by 2020. We are today, way past that point, if anything, Gartner sold CX short of its real value. If CX is the new gold in the digital business of today, then data is the new oil – and AI is what enables businesses to turn that into tangible value. McKinsey’s State of AI in 2020 report had pointed to a steadily rising rate of AI adoption across business functions, and in a global survey, AI was attributed to at least 5% of the EBIT by respondents.
What gives? A number of trends that are regarded as the cornerstones of success with the new-age digital-savvy customer point to the fact that that success is never coming without AI. The move to subscription models places more importance on retention than ever before, personalization of the customer journey is now a commonplace expectation, and on the inside, employee experience is also ascending the list of priorities in the boardroom today. All of these imperatives, when observed in relation to the growing complexity and footprint of enterprise technology enable us to observe where business is headed in the coming decade.
AI is no longer a technology which powers a use-case or two within a business process or function. What cloud was in 2010s, is what AI will be in the 2020s – nay, more than that. Businesses could survive without cloud for a part of the previous decade, but they won’t without AI in this decade. It is no wonder then, that AI needs to be a polished tool in the modern IT department’s arsenal. And the true value of AI only begins there – the big picture shows when AI is scaled and intelligence is democratized across the organizations. Then what are the laggards onto, when it comes to AI adoption? A juggernaut headed to extinction, or a slow decline as revenues decay down to the point where regular business is no longer sustainable?
McKinsey mentions that ‘winning with AI is a state of mind’. Let’s take that literally, for a moment. AI-powered businesses are growing at the speed of data – and that includes your customer’s footprints as they engage with the business across channels, day-to-day operational data, and legislations that are growing stricter by the day. While McKinsey points to the criticality of recognizing the state of being AI-enabled as a business across all hierarchies, there is a more literal side to that remark too – that AI forms a critical part of the winning enterprise’ mind, alongside the human intelligence of the workforce that powers business on a day-to-day basis. Recognizing the symptom of the AI-devoid enterprise is what will help CXOs keep their business in business tomorrow – after all, there is no other way, and there doesn’t need to be one.