Whilst AI Claims the Limelight, Organisations Need to Implement Solutions for the Right Reason

IT Team looking at computer screens

Whilst confidence in technology is rising, companies have to ensure that they are not caught up in the AI whirlwind and look at alternatives such as intelligent automation. Andrew Linley, Head of Commercial at NGC Networks explains.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has over the past five years become the new buzzword across multiple sectors. Such is the potential for AI to make a real impact for businesses, levels of enthusiasm are increasing all of the time.

As such the ‘hype’ surrounding AI has also been increasing as more companies are implementing solutions with such apparent success. Also, the nature of ‘buzzwords’ is that there is something of ‘keeping up with the Jones’’ when companies implement AI. There is a certain paranoia that unless AI is implemented or at least high on the agenda then companies are going to fall behind competitors.

The impact of increased confidence in technology

Aligned to these trends is the fact that there is a new confidence surrounding technology. During lockdown companies had to quickly implement technological solutions that allowed them to carry on working day-to-day.

On the whole this worked well for most companies. The necessity of this quick action overcame some of the hurdles and doubts in the way of technology procurement in the years preceding the pandemic. This has led to a real increase in confidence about the effectiveness of technology and the ease at which it can be implemented.

However, this has in many cases turned into overconfidence. The implementation of new solutions without the same level of pre-pandemic due diligence is a real trend, and one that is starting to cause issues for organisations.

Businesses are spending thousands of pounds on AI solutions without much pause for consideration of ROI, appropriateness to the business and what other solutions might be able to provide a better service at a better price.

AI or IA

 So, what are the alternatives to AI? One that can often be a more efficient and cost-effective solution is Intelligent Automation (IA).

IA can often provide the key benefits that organisations are looking for from AI. There is obviously not as much ‘hype’ surrounding IA and so there has to be a re-set of thinking when it comes to the wholesale enthusiasm currently aligned with AI. Whilst AI is certainly an exciting solution, too many have lost sight of the potential effectiveness of IA.

What is the difference between the two?

  • Essentially, AI is a tool that looks to solve problems and learns to make better decisions as it gains more data and experience and makes its ‘own’ decisions
  • IA uses multiple tools to tackle problems which follow a set of pre-defined rules (rather than making decisions by ‘itself’)

In many cases IA can do the job that businesses are asking AI to do for them, but at a much-reduced cost. This is particularly the case when it comes to communications, with IA playing a critical role in automating systems, freeing up employees to focus on other business critical functions.

It is already doing an effective job for many companies. For example, helping bank customers through the initial stages of a call. When asked to input your characters, the IA is going through an authentication process, before putting you through to a ‘human’. The IA dips into a CRM system using a set of predefined rules, i.e. is this value known, if it is known then move to the next step. This saves time for the bank employee, allowing them to take more calls but more importantly to increase their percentage of first call resolutions – so critical for customer service.

IA can be hugely effective in allowing ‘humans’ to do their job more effectively. We often tell customers to use Artificial Intelligence when it makes sense but use a human when it really matters. Intelligent Automation allows you to automate manual tasks. This means you can open up employee’s time and mental capacity, allowing them to do their job better and serve customers, or to focus on other, critical elements of the business.

Turning to consultancies to help find the best fit solutions

Making an informed decision about the best fit solution can be a difficult task for businesses, particularly when there is so much noise around AI. Understanding what your business needs are and what is best fit in your environment as well as budget, should be done outside of the hype currently surrounding these ‘new’ technologies.

To help this happen, many are turning to independent consultancies who tend to be technology agnostic and so can give, unbiased advice on what might be the best fit. Their experience can also be extremely helpful in cutting through the hype and giving a clear overview of what is needed.

AI has the potential to be a great tool for many companies. However, it will not be a best fit for all. As we have seen with other ‘buzzwords’ the initial enthusiasm is often measured over time. For example, cloud was the all-encompassing technology ten years ago, with many pushing all of their infrastructure into cloud environments as quickly as they could. However, over the past few years we have seen some step-back from this approach, understanding that other solutions and keeping some data on-premise, does a better, more appropriate job for them.

This will happen with AI and so rather than spending huge amounts of budget on AI now, companies need to take a step-back, consider all options and work with partners to understand what will be the best long-term fit for the business.

About the Author

Andrew Linley, Head of Commercial, NGC Networks Andrew Linley is Head of Commercial at NGC Networks.



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