Intelligence summit boosts business

Johannesburg – A wide range of topics were addressed at the recent CMO Summit at Leaderex; held at the Sandton Convention Centre.

 The summit noted that Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other technologies are changing the way organisations work; and to be successful in this new way of work requires more than just implementing new technologies.

  Topics included data science, digital skills, disruptive technology customer experience, and more, all providing marketers with knowledge and inspiration.

  With AI the buzz word of the moment, the AI and Automation talks were filled to capacity.

  Uber director of business development Justin Spratt warned the audience to be aware of over-hyping AI.

   “Hundreds of different concepts, from machine learning to algorithms, make up AI. Scientists are of the opinion that it will take us from 20 to 100 years to get to full AI. It’s not only science that makes me say that; AI faces a number of blockers from cost to regulation and privacy issues,” he said.

    Brian Lewkowicz, a partner at Ernst & Young focusing on intelligent automation within IT advisory services, said many of these blockers are also the biggest risks involved when it comes to AI. “Cost is a particular concern as no one wants to sink a ton of money if there is no benefit. Companies must make the right choices when it comes to AI.”

  Despite this, AI is still the biggest digital priority in South Africa for companies over the next five years. “Most South African companies are using AI to transform products, services, employees and customer experiences using machine learning, advanced analytics and algorithms and playing with bringing these together.”

  He believes the customer is the next viewpoint for organisations when it comes to AI.

  “While everyone talks about customer experience, the reality is that customer experience in South Africa is average,” said Lizette Akker, managing executive of the customer experience management team at IQ Business.

  She attributed this to companies obsessing over their competitors.  “Core of business is the purpose of business and that drives people to the business. Look at your culture and see if it is still serving your business well.”

  To deliver value to the customers, she recommends placing employees first and customers second. “Employee experience drives customer experience.”

  Quinton Pienaar, customer engagement and sales force0 at PwC South Africa agreed with this. “Engage the heart and soul of the employees and customers. Employees work in a new way and how do you engage them to do this while you want more customers to fill baskets? Companies measure outcomes and impact, that is profit and revenue, but they do not look at all the pieces to get you there. You need to measure what you spent to create the customer experience.”

  Building on this, Collin Govender, group executive, shared services at Altron, said: “Digital transformation without impact on your organisation is useless, so ensure you have systems and processes in place when you start your journey.”

  He was drawing on lessons Altron went through when it transformed its organisation and culture.

  “Simplify your message and avoid jargon, get the management and board on board, and keep people at the centre. You will have to reorganise your team. There is a new way of work and people need to work differently. Training and more training is essential.”

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