How Cognitive Technologies Will Transform the Customer Experience

by Stefanini

Better information management, personalization, and proactive problem solving will be key benefits, a new IDG survey finds.

As we’re approaching a new decade, enterprises have no choice but to learn and adopt new ways of doing business. Much of what the new decade has in store for us are advanced technologies that will make us more efficient and productive – one being cognitive technology.

Technologies that use deep natural language processing and understanding to answer questions, provide recommendations, and trigger workflows used to be the stuff of science fiction. Today, they’re on the rise. Partnered with Stefanini, IDG conducted a recent survey that shows that more than 70 percent of the 108 respondents are already using cognitive technology for one or more purposes, and 63 percent plan to implement it in the next 12 months.

See below the highlights of the survey, and learn more about what cognitive technology is and how you can use it to enhance the customer experience.

What is Cognitive Technology?

When you hear the term ‘cognitive,’ artificial intelligence (AI) may be the first thing that comes to mind, but cognitive technology simply falls under the umbrella of AI, and is 10 times more advanced. IBM Watson General Manager David Kenny said it best: “AI can only be as smart as the people teaching it.” Based on this statement alone, we can conclude that cognitive technology can give humans a run for their money, functioning at virtually the same intellectual level.

In other words, cognitive technology mimics the human brain, consisting of deep natural language processing, AI, machine learning, pattern recognition, data mining, etc. Cognitive computing systems have a similar thought process to that of humans, as it studies patterns, enabling the development of its own understanding and analysis to provide recommendations to humans. On the contrary, AI simply takes care of a problem at hand, applying the most relevant algorithms. Think of cognitive systems as assistants to humans; not making all the decisions and completing all the tasks, but giving them a helping hand. Even the interaction between humans and cognitive computing systems is more natural than the interaction between AI and humans.

While cognitive computing systems and humans function similarly, humans will not be replaced. While AI takes full control over all processes, cognitive computing leaves the human in charge. With cognitive systems, inaccuracies in data analysis is one less problem that humans have to deal with. Instead, humans are being fueled by cognitive systems, collaborating with the systems while still taking the lead.

To sum up the difference between the capabilities of AI and cognitive technology, here’s an example in the healthcare industry: AI systems in the doctor’s office would make all decisions regarding a patient’s treatment plan without consulting with the doctor. On the other hand, cognitive computing makes a diagnosis based on its own analysis and understanding of the condition, making for better decision-making.

The Adoption of Cognitive Technology

More CEOs and managers are starting to recognize the benefits of implementing cognitive technologies at their organizations. There are many drivers for the use of cognitive technologies, like enhancing customer experience or reducing operational costs. As previously mentioned, IDG partnered with Stefanini to conduct a recent survey, which identifies the specific factors that are driving interest in the use of cognitive technologies. 

The in-depth study, with a total of 108 respondents, seeks to understand why enterprise organizations are adopting cognitive technologies. The study determined the top drivers for implementation, the percent of budget dedicated to cognitive technology investments over the next year, and the primary focus of planned investments. Furthermore, the survey examines the ways in which enterprises will use cognitive technology to enhance customer experiences. Lastly, the study measures the interest levels of having a virtual agent while uncovering some of the key use cases for this type of technology.

All respondents were required to either be involved in purchase decisions for cognitive technologies at their organization or be employed at the manager level or above at an organization with 500 or more employees, and indicate their organization is currently using and/or planning to implement cognitive technologies.

Results

Out of the 108 respondents, more than 70 percent are already using cognitive technologies for one or more purposes, 63 percent have implementation plans over the next year, and 26 percent plan to implement cognitive technologies for any purpose more than a year from now. Five respondents, who are not included among the 108 qualified respondents, had no plans to implement cognitive technologies for any purpose due to no appropriate use case, a lack of internal expertise to implement/manage, and a lack of budget.  

Moreover, customer experience improvement was found to be the top driver for the use of cognitive technologies at 54 percent, followed by user/employee experience improvement at 44 percent, and reduced operational costs at 40 percent. Improving accuracy and/or speed in decision-making and modernizing/transforming business processes are tied at 36 percent, while keeping up with industry competitors is the lowest driver at 34 percent.

The percent of budget dedicated to cognitive technologies is increasing at 85 percent of organizations. On average, 16 percent of organizational budgets are dedicated to investments in cognitive technologies. Over the past year, the percent of organizational budgets allocated to investments in cognitive technologies has changed; 20 percent has increased significantly, 65 percent has increased somewhat, and 15 percent hasn’t changed at all. When it comes to the budget dedicated to investments in cognitive technologies, an average of 55 percent is focused on long-term business transformation versus short-term goals.

As mentioned earlier, improving customer experience is the top driver for the use of cognitive technologies. The study took a look at the most valuable ways cognitive technology can help organizations enhance customer experiences. Better information management, personalization of the customer experience, and proactive problem solving are the top three most valuable ways. Other ways that can improve the customer experience that are not as popular, but still add value, are integrating with other applications to trigger and automate workflow, intelligent follow-up/auto-escalation, education and training, augment customer service agents, and human resource management.

Eight in ten respondents (80 percent) highly rate the value of a virtual agent based on cognitive computing and AI, with natural language capabilities. A more specific breakdown of this rating is as follows: somewhat valuable (20 percent), extremely valuable (31 percent), very valuable (49 percent). The study sought out the primary reasons why it would be valuable to leverage a virtual agent with cognitive computing, and AI with natural language capabilities. The findings are below:

  • •      Improve customer experience (21 mentions)
  • •      Increase productivity (11 mentions)
  • •      Cost savings (7 mentions)
  • •      Quicker access to information (6 mentions)
  • •      Competitive advantage (5 mentions)
  • •      Multiple ways to leverage it within the organization (3 mentions)
  • •      Better efficiency (3 mentions)
  • •      Adds value to existing services
  • •      Ability to customize experiences
  • •      Improve interdepartmental collaboration
  • •      Increase revenue
  • •      More secure

How Stefanini Can Help

To meet the needs of an increasingly connected world and ever-evolving digital landscape, we offer cognitive technology solutions designed to help you face new business challenges. One of those solutions is Sophie, the world’s premier omni-channel virtual assistant. Sophie is based on cognitive computing and artificial intelligence, with self-adaption and interactive contextual automation for self-learning and human-like interaction.

Sophie is able to assist across different business scenarios and interact with various personas with her innovative design. In addition, our omni-channel virtual assistant can provide tailored customer experiences by integrating with different channels. Sophie can also assist with tasks such as triggering workflow, auto-escalation, and other business processes to provide a personalized, omni-channel customer experience.

Our AI Research and Development Director, Fabio Caversan, knows how organizations can get the most out of the AI systems that they deploy: “To ensure the results that lead to better customer and user experiences, companies need to understand what AI can and can’t do. It needs to be integrated with other systems to get data, it needs to be taught how to analyze and use that data to create micro-personalized experiences, and it needs to be capable of delivering those experiences across the channels your users prefer.”

Explore how our cognitive technology solutions can enhance your organization’s customer experience here, or contact us to begin co-creating solutions for a better future now.

 

Watch the video below with Spencer Gracias, Stefanini CEO for North America and APAC, on his key takeaways on IDG's cognitive technology survey. 

Click below to download the whitepaper prepared by IDG

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How Cognitive Technologies Will Transform the Customer Experience

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Co-creating technology solutions to improve customer experience.