Organizations have traditionally embraced automation technologies to boost process efficiencies or cut costs. However, there is a new opportunity in the age of the customer: engagement, says a new report from Forrester Research.

The trend is best represented by organizations tapping into a wide array of automation technologies to solve customer-facing problems, by helping customers automatically receive better service or better serve themselves.

These technologies are replacing employees or working alongside them to create new methods of customer engagement, the study says. Some examples of these technologies are robotics, virtual assistants, artificial intelligence and customer self-service technologies, which include kiosks and self-checkout lanes.

The study also says the path to automation adoption will not be easy for many organizations. With technical hurdles, a lack of technology maturity and inexperience within the staff are all roadblocks in realizing the potential of customer-facing automation.

Other factors in a company’s success include organizational maturity and a high RQ (robotic quotient), Forrester notes. Organizations must experiment with these technologies in a way that is consistent with their automation maturity.

When deciding whether or how to pursue automation as a customer engagement tool, organizations must take into account their automation maturity. According to Forrester, organizations tend to fall into one of three categories: new entrant, tech-forward company, or digital predator.

New entrants are new to this technology space. Even if they have some internal skills relevant to automation, the organization has not done anything more than innovation lab testing, Forrester says.

Tech-forward companies are ready to experiment in these spaces, but lack the broad organizational consensus that automation will help their business, according to Forrester.

Digital predators are extremely ambitious and expect automation to make a significant impact on how the company engages with customers, the research firm concludes.

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