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The Role of AI in Digital Transformation

An opinion piece by the chief digital information officer of ServiceNow

Chris Bedi

February 5, 2024

5 Min Read
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In today’s economic landscape, it is crucial that business leaders are strategic about their investments and understand exactly where to prioritize their digital spending. Artificial intelligence (AI) has rocketed into the mainstream over the last year and its potential is huge. However, capitalizing on such technology requires seamless integration. If harnessed effectively, AI offers tangible benefits in areas such as customer and employee experience, and therefore companies must act now or risk getting left behind.

From self-service to proactive service

The last few years have paved the way for bigger, better digital transformation. The rise of generative AI  and hyperautomation has potential to be a productivity game-changer for those who use it well. For example, a recent study by Peil.nl found that 72% of employees who already use AI at work think the technology can double their efficiency.

While some companies realize these benefits, McKinsey research reveals that many in Europe are not quite getting it right. IT spending has grown by 25% across European industries since 2020, but customer satisfaction with digital experiences is not keeping up.

Efforts to improve internal efficiencies are not translating to enhanced customer experiences. Some companies simply are not hitting the right notes for their customers when driving their digital transformation initiatives.

A survey by ServiceNow and Opinium shows what customers really care about: 95% surveyed in EMEA see efficient responses from customer service agents as a top priority. Businesses that are not tapping into the potential of AI and hyperautomation are finding it tough to keep up with these demands and risk falling behind competitors. Hyperautomation and GenAI can boost self-service and change customer experience for the better, while also shifting expectations from self-service to proactive service.

The future of digital transformation rests on AI

In Germany, the country has slipped in the ranks for attractiveness to the private sector, trailing behind other, more digitally nimble countries across Europe. The challenge for businesses across Germany and the rest of EMEA is to invest in the right technologies that balance doing more with less while creating seamless experiences for employees and customers.

This is where AI can solve the juggling act. A 2022 NewVantage Partners survey of senior data and technology executives revealed that 92% of large companies registered significant returns on AI and data investments in 2022, nearly double the rate from a 2017 study.

The potential is massive if you get it right. When AI is embedded throughout an enterprise — supporting recommendations, decisions, and processes — it can drive better experiences, increased speed, and effective decision-making.

Take Siemens, Europe’s largest industrial manufacturing company with a global workforce. With a commitment to becoming a technology-led organization, Siemens’ AI and automation delivered more efficient services and enhanced experience, automating one million hours and earning an 87% employee satisfaction rate.

Embracing a strategic approach

Of course, this is not a straightforward process when you consider the scale of AI integration for an entire business. The key is to take a well-rounded, step-by-step approach, starting right from the moment you decide to invest.

U.K. telecommunications operator BT Group realized the value of AI-led operations with its strategic digital transformation program to simplify service management processes. By replacing and consolidating multiple legacy systems, the group reduced change efforts by 75% and had large reductions in mean time to repair. In the long term, the group forecasts £25 million ($31.3 million) in savings by 2027 using more proactive and predictive operations.

The importance of nurturing collaboration and innovation

After investment, you need to get people onboard. For a business to take full advantage of the benefits of AI, employees must become comfortable with it. That puts the onus on business leaders to spearhead their digital transformation strategy and show teams how they can use AI in their respective departments and processes for greater efficiency.

Upskilling and training employees are a critical component. Organizations should determine which roles will be most affected by AI, then deliver targeted training to give these employees the skills they need to thrive in the new digital landscape.

It is also important to create opportunities for employees to share ideas as they become familiar with the technology. Giving the green light to explore innovation encourages collaboration that spans across different departments. Building bridges between teams are what help drive efficiency across the whole enterprise. You are not just transforming your business – you are nurturing a culture of innovation and collaboration that can take your company to greater heights.

Enhancing the customer experience

Bringing together investment and adoption are core pieces of the puzzle to harness the potential of AI. Employees are empowered to automate tasks and innovate, which opens the door to more agile operations across the enterprise. The result is faster and more seamless experiences for customers.

For example, Copenhagen Airport is frequently awarded as Europe’s most efficient airport and serves over 30 million customers. By streamlining operations and automating tasks for employees to work better, the airport can dedicate more time to engage directly with passengers.

The airport wanted to revamp its legacy services architecture to create a consistent end-to-end experience for everyone. By identifying common pain points, the airport automated processes and increased user service efficiency for a 90% customer satisfaction rating.

Unlocking the power of AI for future success

When it comes to digital transformation, businesses must strike a balance between maximizing their digital ambitions and pinpointing where their investments are best placed. Upskilling the workforce to use AI is no longer a luxury; rather, it will be a fundamental differentiator for those looking to get ahead of the competition.

AI is having its ‘iPhone moment’ and it is high time businesses harnessed its full potential and develop a strategy that nurtures collaboration, innovation and experimentation. Embracing this ethos will empower businesses to do more with less, and set themselves up for future success.

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ChatGPT / Generative AI

About the Author(s)

Chris Bedi

Chief Digital Information Officer, ServiceNow

Chris Bedi is the chief digital information officer at ServiceNow.

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