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CIOs need to play evangelist role for automation, AI

Forrester Research has come out with a report highlighting the role in which automation, artificial intelligence and robotics can impact the business, and how CIOs can help their organization meet strategic competencies.

These strategic competencies entail using technology like automation to solve business problems, according to J.P. Gownder, vice president and principal analyst for Forrester Research.

“CIOs and other digital leaders need to think about automation, AI and robotics in terms of the business model of the company and applying those technologies to a business-model problem, which is a little bit different than the optimization problems that they've been [addressing] in the past,” he said.

Implementing automation will require CIOs to play the role of an evangelist and convince workers on the benefits of using these emerging technologies, Gownder noted.

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Students use keyboards during a computer and information technology class at an IACM Smart Learn Ltd. learning center in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. By 2026, 64 percent of Indians are expected to be in the working age group of 15-59 years, making it home to the largest workforce in the world. Yet the government's much-touted goal of providing skills training to 400 million people by 2022 is unlikely to be met, increasing the already significant unemployment burden in a country where 69 percent of jobs are under threat from automation. Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg

Meanwhile, automation can impact the cost savings in a business, according to the Forrester report. By making tasks more repetitive and predictable, it adds scale and improves productivity and speed, Gownder said.

“Human beings just aren't great at doing repetitive, manual tasks necessarily, not the way a machine can, so there's certainly a very strong cost play here,” Gownder said. “But the long-term view is not just about cost cutting; it's also about growing new opportunities, new business models, new customer offerings, etc.”

Automation can also improve employee productivity through robotic process automation. On the back end, bots could automate resetting of passwords and help with financial reconciliation.

On the front end, a bot could simplify the job of customer service agents when they need to access data to perform a fraud check or credit limit check. These processes would otherwise result in long hold times on multiple legacy software systems that might not be compatible.

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“By using a human agent and then using an RPA bot, the bot can probably access those things in 15 seconds and do all of them,” Gownder said.

Automation can also help organizations personalize the experience for customers. At Lowe’s, for example, the store could personalize the shopping experience by engaging customers in multiple languages.

Look for automation to simplify tasks from simple to complex and improve business applications.

“Everything from the simplest task to anything that's repetitive and predictable, we will start to see software that will help us take that task off of our plates, to make us more effective so it will become part of the toolset in every application that we use,” Gownder said.

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