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Welcome to the Age of the Intelligent, Connected Customers

By Vala Afshar

Digitally determined organizations with a fully integrated enterprise-wide technology architecture are moving from an era of experimentation to multiplied innovation. Digital transformation is maturing into an enterprise-wide movement, modernizing how companies work and compete, accelerating new business model innovation opportunities and helping companies effectively adapt and grow in an evolving digital economy.

A successful digital transformation is an enterprise-wide effort that is best served by a leader with broad organizational purview. Research shows that CIOs represent the most likely and capable candidates for owning or sponsoring the enterprise digital journey. In a digital economy, the CIO mandate is changing. Customer expectations are shaping the CIO mandate on innovation, customer-facing technology, and artificial intelligence. With sales, service, and marketing lines of business pushing hard on more AI-powered customer experience initiatives, CIOs are already keenly aware of the shift toward customer-centric operations. These new proof points — directly from customers — only add incentive to innovate.

In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where trust is being distributed in new kinds of ways, and with technological innovation continuing to empower customers to expect more from the companies they deal with, switch brands when they’re not happy, and share their experiences online, companies must ensure they match up to customers’ expectations of a superior experience if they want to stay competitive. Trust must be your company’s number one core value.

The four themes at the NASSCOM Technology and Leadership Forum 2019 is: 1. Age of Intelligence, 2. Experience Unplugged, 3. Unlocking Growth, and 4. Dismantling walls. Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) will weave through all four themes. AI is the definitive technology of the twenty-first century, seen by some of the top technology and business leaders as a technology as important as electricity. As artificial intelligence grows in its capabilities, so does its impact on people’s lives. Companies must ‘raise’ AI systems to act as responsible representatives of their businesses. AI has already changed how customers interact with businesses at home and at work, and it will continue to widen the digital divide.

There are challenges with access, adoption and use of AI, and other emerging technologies, that will need to be carefully managed and better understood. Trust, customer success and equality must be very company’s most important guiding principles. Unless your customers trust you — and trust your use of technologies — your business may soon be on the losing side of the customer experience battle. Customers want to know that the companies they do business with have trust as their most important core value and guiding principle. We must dismantle walls that separate people and businesses from affordable access to AI technologies. AI must be viewed as a human right.

In an AI powered economy, trust must be every company’s North Star and guidance light. Sustainable connected experience cannot exist without trust. AI will unlock growth opportunities and will deliver a new set of experiences. AI will also change the future of work in terms of a new set of job functions and responsibilities. As AI capabilities are designed into new products and services, technology and development leaders will need to enhance their skills.

#TheNext opportunity and reality for all companies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and the era of Globalization 4.0, is to recognize the unprecedented velocity (speed and direction) of innovation and disruption ahead. In the age of the connected intelligent customer, the customer experience is as important as your products and services. And the customer expectations regarding their experiences is changing more rapidly than ever before. The most important skill in the era of multiplied innovation is to stay teachable and adaptive, knowing that the new business currencies are speed, personalization at scale, and intelligence.

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” —Alvin Toffler

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