AI and Communications: The Strategic Imperative for CEOs in 2024

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Executive Summary:

Perhaps not since the advent of the Internet has anything threatened to disrupt the business status quo so much.  This is especially true as it relates to communications –where, just like the Internet (that other revolutionary communication technology), all your employee and customer experiences happen.

As of March 2024, the imperative for companies to adopt a holistic AI and communication strategy has become undeniable; those without these risk falling into obsolescence.  To put it more bluntly, if you don’t already have an AI strategy and timeline you’re now considered a laggard.

However, amidst this rapid evolution, the challenge lies in discerning genuine value amidst the noise of inflated claims and superficial offerings.

Strategic leadership is now more crucial than ever. Without someone dedicated to focusing on maximizing and optimizing AI, communications, and the employee and customer experiences they can create, organizations risk lagging far behind.

Yet, even while you may have to run to catch up, caution is warranted, particularly in the realm of customer communications where risks with AI can be significant.

As a CEO, the onus is on you to bring together the right team to navigate this transformation, seizing the opportunity to leverage AI to its fullest potential and to steer your organization to its greatest success.

Here’s what you need to know about CommTech and AI in 2024

1:  MOVE FASTER!

Generative AI burst on the scene just over a year ago and it’s moving fast!

How fast?  As of March 2024, any company that still doesn’t have an AI plan and a roadmap is already considered a laggard. Move quickly to engage an expert who can help get you pointed in the right direction.*

2:  SO MUCH FLUFF

Every company is vying for your attention with AI. There’s a lot of fluff to sort through to find the actual value. The value is definitely there, but what companies really need is help to sort through all the fluff! This is time consuming work and unfortunately there still isn’t an AI that can go out there and sort through all of this for you so you’ll either need to tap someone internal with enough expertise in both AI and how to create great employee and customer experiences, or you’ll need to bring in someone from the outside to help*.

3:  FIND YOUR LEADERS

You ideally want to have someone dedicated to figuring out how to best implement AI across your company.  Perhaps you are one of the lucky few who have a CXO (Chief Experience Officer), a CIO, or even a CCO (Chief Communications Officer), with both the expertise and bandwidth to take this on.  Most likely you don’t and so the next best approach is to have a multi departmental task force along with an outside expert who can help provide guidance and help you find opportunities from a customer POV knowing what it’s like to deal with your company.

If your CEO or executive leadership doesn’t get what all this AI fuss is about, definitely bring in someone who can help*

4:  FOCUS ON CREATING HAPPINESS

Where to focus on AI? Happier employees and happier customers!

Assuming you’ve got the right people on the bus, your people want to be efficient and productive and help the team win.

Focus on creating happier, more productive employees.  This means increasing productivity and efficiency, and freeing your people up to do more human work requiring empathy, relationship, and trust.

Focus on creating happier more engaged customers. Lots of technologies coming online to create better customer experiences (expediency, self help, etc).*

5: LOWER YOUR RISK

Focusing on empowering employees is easier and lower risk than communicating with customers which can open up risks (i.e. hallucinations, Air Canada lawsuit), so PROCEED with caution.  There are tons of AI technologies available that can drastically help your employees to increase efficiency, productivity and customer experience –especially in relation to communications.  Make sure you find the right tech and ask the right questions*.




6:  CONSOLIDATE AND UNIFY

Gone are the days when you had one tool for every mode of communication: one tool for chat, one for video calls, and one for phone.  Now it’s very likely that your company has one tool for all of these whether that’s MS Teams, Google Suite or Zoom.  

The same will soon be true of the the remaining communications channels.  No longer will you have one system for your contact center, one for social media management, and one for website’s chat bot, and one for the live person chat.  

In the future we may no longer see UC (Unified Communications) vendors or CC (Contact Center) vendors, but only vendors offering Communications as a Service which would take care of all of your company’s communications needs regardless of channel.

The benefit will be one platform for both your humans and AI to handle all your communications.

The downside will be finding the vendor who can adequately meet all your needs.  This doesn’t really exist today which is why something like 80% of the Fortune100 use both Zoom and Microsoft Teams.  It’s not because having two similar platforms is ideal, it’s because there are major gaps in the primary tool that need to be supplemented by a competing one.  Nevertheless, this is where the industry is heading, and it’s what customers want.

Those platform vendors who have been lagging in their innovation and development will need to either rebuild their platforms to fill these gaps or they’ll have to acquire their competition –which often causes its own issues due to the immense challenges of trying to stitch together disparate platforms.

7: ONE AI TO RULE THEM ALL

One of the biggest reasons you’ll want to have your data consolidated and your communications platforms unified, is so that you can fully leverage the power of AI.

Yes most of your major tech vendors already have their own generative AI tools available (even if it’s rather basic so they can check the box), but to really leverage AI most powerfully you’ll want to give it broader access to your data and your various applications.  

One AI tool that can recognize when a customer is calling in to speak with their account rep, that they just posted on Twitter, and before that they had a heated call with the contact center, and before that they sent an email to billing about being double billed.  

You’ll want an AI that knows all of this and can bring all of this pertinent information up to the account rep so that they can see the email that the AI pulled from the CRM along with the notes from the person in billing that indeed this is a double billing and the money is being refunded.

This is the future.  Not AI replacing humans necessarily but AI helping humans to do what humans are good at: empathy, relationship, and trust.

8:  AI & COMMUNICATIONS TOGETHER

What has more power to bring transformation to your business than both AI and Communications working together?  

Nothing.  

All of your employee and customer experiences were already created in large part by communication.  Your job is to figure out how to use the power of communications and AI to create the happiest employees who are enabled with the best technology, services, and training to perform at their best.  You also want to prioritize creating the happiest customers who enjoy every interaction with your company because of the way your humans and AI work to meet their expectations, and their wants.  

9: YOU GOTTA SPEND TO SAVE

AI promises to bring cost efficiencies across the organization in a major way.  However one other major consideration companies will have to make is figuring out who will get these AI tools and who won’t.   MS Co-pilot for instance costs US$30/user/month. This is a major price tag –especially for those who implemented MS Teams instead of Zoom to save money.  Google One AI will cost you US$20/user/month.  Zoom offers their AI companion for free.


CONCLUSION: 

The intersection of AI and communications presents unprecedented opportunities for growth, efficiency, and enhanced customer experiences. 

However, navigating this landscape requires more than just technological adoption; it demands strategic leadership, cautious yet decisive action, and a relentless commitment to maximizing the potential of both AI and communications to create happier, more engaged employees and customers alike. 

As a CEO, the responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders to lead your organization through this evolution, ensuring that you bring on the right people to help you create what you want to see in terms of innovation, efficiency, and productivity as well as superior employee and customer experiences.

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* While an AI bot that can help you maximize and optimize the power of communications and AI throughout your company doesn’t exist (yet), we do have some pretty amazing humans powered by decades of experience in dozens of communications technologies that can help you sort out where to prioritize your AI efforts for maximum impact!  

As the leading CommTech brokerage we’ll identify your company’s biggest gaps, frictions, and challenges to help you create happier, more engaged employees; and happier more engaged customers.  Click the chat button in the bottom right corner and Contact us for your free AI consultation.