When it comes to maintaining a competitive edge in the cognitive realm, companies can discover innovation flourishes when ownership over an AI solution is handled internally in the form of a Cognitive Center of Excellence (CCOE).
The phrase “Innovate or Die” has become so common in today’s digital economy that its original meaning has nearly been lost. Nonetheless, it’s a statement based on a fundamental, inescapable truth: In order to survive — let alone thrive — companies must relentlessly adapt products and procedures to address a rapidly evolving business environment.
That said, few sectors require as much innovation to stay competitive as Artificial Intelligence (AI). One of the key avenues that can be used to maintain an innovative edge is through the establishment of a Cognitive Center of Excellence (CCOE). CCOEs are internal, multi-disciplinary teams responsible for developing, updating and refining a company’s cognitive solution(s). IPsoft believes the establishment of a CCOE allows companies to be far more flexible and impactful in their AI approach.
While cognitive agents such as Amelia offer several “out-of-the-box” features, a CCOE is vital to building sophisticated use cases tailored to a company’s specific (and evolving) needs. When implementing Amelia or 1Desk, our IT management and shared services platform, initially IPsoft or one of our implementation partners controls much of the development cycle. However, as described in this blog post by Allan Anderson, IPsoft’s Director of Enterprise Solutions, a CCOE provides companies with a path to ownership “in order to align [the AI implementation] with business priorities and strategic goals.”
Here are three important ways a CCOE can keep enterprises innovating to achieve business benefits.
Inside Knowledge, Increased Innovation
As an internal team, CCOEs will understand the surrounding ecosystem at an intimate level. Through experience, the CCOE team members will already be familiar with a company’s customers (whether past, current or prospective), products, competitors and culture.
This inside knowledge will allow CCOE team members to readily recognize challenges and opportunities – certainly more so than an external team could. Furthermore, this past experience will allow them to build on previous successful experiments, and avoid less successful paths.
For example, the CCOE team’s inherent wisdom will be particularly important when it comes to designing an AI-powered User Experience (UX). Conversational Experience Designers (CXD) are CCOE members who will be responsible for shaping the semantic journey users take with a cognitive agent. They can utilize their experience to understand how customers prefer to communicate, as well as their expectations and their needs.
CCOEs can foster clear and honest lines of communications with other colleagues. These channels are crucial not just for basic cognitive upkeep, but for innovation as well.
Employees who interact with solutions in real-world scenarios every day are a wealth of valuable information due to their direct feedback and experience with customers. While Amelia can offer many quantitative data points (e.g. call times, resolution rates, etc.), employees can convey frustration or happiness from the customers directly to the CCOE. Companies can set up this line of communication through an existing collaboration app or even regularly scheduled face-to-face meetings.
Communications with front-line colleagues can highlight problems to the CCOE so that they can be addressed rapidly. And just as importantly, these colleagues can aid the CCOE in choosing which innovative features should be developed next. For example, a human agent might notice that users have been asking when Amelia will be available via their smart speaker (while Amelia can be made available through multiple channels, this desire to develop this feature wouldn’t necessarily be captured in any analytics report.)
Rapid, Secure Development Cycles
The CCOE can provide a focal point of control over AI systems and can work, if necessary, with integrated third-party systems. However, as CCOEs reach maturity, the team can also help speed up internal development cycles to make sure that changes or enhancements are deployed as rapidly as possible throughout an organization.
As Allan Andersen explains, in an ideal scenario CCOEs evolve from an initial “seed level” to a second level where teams focus “more on the strategic control of [AI development] projects, which can begin about six months after the initial seed.” Finally, at the third level, a CCOE can assume operational control over the company’s development cycle, where innovation can bloom.
AI is a powerful technology that is changing the way the world does business. Companies will find that an internal CCOE can be an irreplaceable tool for keeping an AI solution productive and innovative.