Legacy Thinking Poses Hurdles to Implementing Cognitive Solutions

3 minute read

Cognitive technologies have the potential to fundamentally change and transform a business. Fear of this change often generates anxiety within an organization, posing a challenge for leaders who want to invest in automation.

In the latest study from HfS Research, 100 C-suite executives were interviewed about their goals and challenges for implementing cognitive solutions. The report finds that one of the biggest obstacles within IT departments is fear of change. In addition, when asked about their top challenge in creating a unified organization with converged infrastructure across departments, 50% of the respondents selected legacy thinking.

Managing employees’ expectations and changing legacy mindsets is a challenge with many different facets -- from training, reskilling and adapting to new processes, to managing different systems and integrating data.

Look to the reality not science fiction

AI’s portrayal within the media and movies certainly doesn’t get any conversation about AI off to a great start. The image of a world run by evil machines or robots taking our jobs is compounded by media hype, and unsurprisingly, people feel apprehensive and resistant to change. Technology providers, experts and thought leaders have a responsibility to educate the market about real-world case studies and how cognitive solutions, from autonomics  to digital colleagues like IPsoft’s Amelia, are beneficial to society. Cognitive solutions are already being used in multiple industries to augment human processes, provide faster customer support, and deliver employee services for HR, IT and more. These are hardly sci-fi doom-and-gloom scenarios -- in fact cognitive technology means happier customers and more satisfied employees. The old axiom of “accentuating the positive” is vital for wider acceptance of cognitive AI.

Adapt mindsets by focusing on employee and customer experiences

When technology is easy to use and provides services that are beneficial in completing challenging or tedious tasks, people are typically more adaptable. Executives that are investing in cognitive AI should be considering the end-user experiences they want to create. They should start with small problems that already frustrate employees or customers, such as IT issue resolution, and look at how cognitive solutions can make those better. As described by HfS Research: “Start by redesigning goals around your desired outcomes. Once you know what problems you want to solve, figure out how to measure ROI and work to get rid of legacy metrics and outmoded thinking.”

At a major insurance provider, both employees and customers are benefiting from cognitive AI. Amelia is directly helping insurance agents on a variety of support issues, including policy details. Instead of putting a customer on hold while they consult databases, or transfer to a colleague, the agency's agents can ask Amelia questions via chat. Importantly, 99% of agents who worked with Amelia said they were satisfied with their interactions. This is an example of an organization using Amelia to achieve targeted business objectives.

Address legacy technology challenges by prioritizing integrations and processes

Cognitive technology also forces enterprises to rethink how to manage siloed data sets and how to integrate with existing applications. IT managers should start by reviewing and prioritizing which business processes can be enhanced with automation before selecting the relevant integrations and data to utilize. They should consider the existing applications and steps that employees need to go through and pick one small piece to address first. By managing the change in small pieces, legacy issues are overcome at a measured pace and seem less overwhelming. As part of the AI revolution, IT teams will likely change over time; staff will focus on creating automations and designing workflows versus more traditional IT support duties. However, this change will be gradual, and IT staff should realize that they have an important part to play in the rapidly evolving technology landscape.

SEB, a leading Nordic bank, is an example of a company that started using automation in one area of the business and then expanded. Amelia started as an IT service desk agent, helping 14,000 employees with requests related to identity access. She was later introduced to handle customer support queries such as password resets for online banking or troubleshooting.

While starting with smaller cognitive implementations makes sense, belief in this technology needs to be built into the company culture and come from the top-down. Cognitive tools should not be viewed as a magical fix but rather part of a larger transformation strategy that enables the organization to scale projects faster for business-wide benefits. Companies that have a modern vision, buy-in from different stakeholders and a willingness to adapt at a proper pace will be the most successful.

As summed up in the HfS Research paper, “Acknowledging legacy thinking is an essential step towards aligning the attitudes of stakeholders, focused on a positive outcome.”

Read the HfS Research white paper.

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