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Only 4% of businesses currently see CX value in artificial intelligence

Is the hyperbole surrounding AI masking the truth – that most brands just don’t need it yet?

3rd Dec 2019
Contributor MyCustomer
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Artificial intelligence

According to research from Workbooks, a mere 4% of mid-sized organisations in both the UK and US currently consider artificial intelligence (AI) software to be of value to them.

The ‘State of the CRM Market 2019 Report’  revealed that, despite the relentless hype around AI, most businesses are still grappling with the basics of optimising the CRM system they already have, and see little value in adding AI into the mix.  

The most sought-after CRM functionality is contact management.

Second on the list was pipeline management (57%), followed by analytics and reporting applications (43%).

“For now, the perception seems to be that there is still a long way to go before CRM investment in AI bears fruit,” the report highlights.

“It requires CRM implementation across an entire enterprise rather than in just one department, and there has to be a corporate culture that understands that the days for data silos have passed.”

In other words, before going down the AI route, it is necessary for organisations to focus on “getting those basics in place first”.

The problem for many though is that, rather than taking an enterprise-wide approach to CRM from the outset, there was instead “one pioneering department” that initiated adoption. This means that to exploit the system’s potential fully and to make it AI-ready, either action has to be taken to expand its scope or it is necessary to introduce a new business-wide application suite.

As a result, the report says: “Many look back and wish they had taken a broader view at the outset and invested in a platform that works across their organisation and caters for the needs of all customer-facing departments.”

What are the AI adoption challenges?

Indeed, this situation is a key contributor to why as many as half of all UK, and a third of US, respondents have actually switched CRM software providers to date. A huge 48% of all respondents who have already done so indicated the system had been a poor fit for their needs, while a further 38% said it was unable to scale to grow with their business.

A further 28% of those questioned also blamed cost, although this reason was more popular in the US, “further reinforcing the view that the US is a more mature CRM market”, the study says. In fact, in the US, “CRM is already becoming commodified, and we might expect to see this in the UK before too long” as well, it adds.

But the biggest challenge of all, points out John Cheney, Workbooks’ founder and chief executive in a blog entitled ‘Is AI the future of CRM?’, https://www.workbooks.com/blog/crm/is-ai-the-future-of-crm/ is not so much CRM technology itself as “the way in which information on customers is scattered around many disparate sources”.

He explains: “Enterprises have been used to storing data in corporate silos, and pulling it all together is not the most trivial of tasks – companies have rarely been designed to work that way…Companies need to think about how they gather information and how they work together – it may need a completely new mindset.”

Another consideration in terms of moving to an AI-based future is that relevant skills are in short supply. As Cheney points out, because “the use of AI requires some specialist expertise in gathering and interpreting the data”, individuals skilled in such technology are “really thin on the ground”.

Nonetheless, despite such pitfalls, he still optimistic that AI has a “considerable future when it comes to customer engagement”, although he warns that “there’s a lot of work to be done first”.

“AI shouldn’t be treated as some sort of magic bullet that will immediately transform company fortunes – we have to be careful that we don’t succumb to the hype too easily,” Cheney says.

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