Digital strategy is the new normal in the day of the life of a New Zealand business leader. However, there is still a big gap between their aspirations and what’s actually getting done.
A recent Jade Software survey of local digital and customer experience executives found that 60 percent of respondents have a digital roadmap and a strategy to transform their business. But there was a very mixed response on the tools they have at their disposal to achieve this.
Nearly all those questioned (90 percent) across the New Zealand financial services, healthcare and security industries have a customer relationship management (CRM) system. However, this figure dropped dramatically when they were asked about other key digital business tools and practices. Only 40 percent practice user-centred design when developing new products and services and just 30 percent have fully integrated data sets and the analytics to support this.
What’s astonishing is that none of those surveyed currently use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in their organisation, despite the huge benefits this offers. Some advantages include automating customer interactions, saving time and money by automating routine processes and tasks, removing human error and helping make faster business decisions.
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This low uptake of digital technologies mirrors what’s happening elsewhere in the world. A 2017 international study by McKinsey Global Institute, for example, found only one in five business decision-makers were harnessing the benefits of AI.
There are a couple of reasons why this might be the case. Firstly, AI is relatively new and business leaders are unsure how to apply it to their operation. And, without insights, it can also be hard convincing key stakeholders of the return on investment of an emerging technology.
However, the risk of taking a ‘wait and see’ approach is that early adopters are taking advantage of their competitors’ hesitation and getting a big jump on them. The need to get up and running with AI as soon as possible is highlighted by research company Gartner, who predicts that by 2020 AI will be a top five investment priority for over 30 percent of CIOs.
Here in New Zealand the urgency is more muted. Our research showed that only 40 percent of the business leaders surveyed have AI on their radar at all, while the responses of those who didn’t ranged from ‘we have some email automation’ through to ‘we’re not looking to go there currently’ and ‘the next generation might be more engaged with that’.
But NZ’s digital future isn’t all discouraging news. When asked what their 2020 dream technology stack would look like, 50 percent said AI, machine learning and chatbots would feature and 40 percent said process automation would be on the list too. Data and business system integration, analytics, and CRM also featured high on the list of ‘must haves’.