5 Things AI-Driven Support Leaders Do Differently

Posted by Alyssa Verzino on Jun 5, 2019 10:50:00 AM


There are a lot of companies that want to use AI, but just don’t know where to start. 85% of executives believe that AI will give their business an inherent advantage (MIT Sloan Management Review and the Boston Consulting Group), however, of the half of CIOs planning to use AI, only 4% have actually implemented the technology (Gartner).

This calls for leadership in the right direction. On our podcast AI at Work, we discussed what it means to be an AI-driven leader with Tom Davenport, President's Distinguished Professor of Information Technology and Management at Babson College, a Fellow of the MIT Center for Digital Business, and an independent senior advisor to Deloitte Analytics.

“AI isn’t different from other technologies, in that the likelihood that your senior executives are going to embrace it and act on it is probably the single most important factor in how quickly you get moving” — Tom Davenport, AI at Work

Tom introduced us to his framework from AI-Driven Leadership on what it takes to be an AI-driven leader. This is a great way to get thinking about what you need to do as a leader to successfully implement AI at your organization.

#1 Get the low down.

An AI-driven leader learns about the technology and what it does. AI is different than any other technology, and it is important for leaders to have more than a surface level understanding. An AI-driven company wants to learn about and explore a wide variety of AI technologies. Leaders need to know enough to effectively weigh their options and make an educated decision.

What support leaders can do:

Learn more about different AI techniques, including Natural Language Generation, Speech Recognition, Robotic Process Automation, Text Analytics and NLP. Read this article to start.

#2 Have a direction.

An AI-driven leader has clear business problems that they are looking to solve. AI can help solve many problems, but it can’t solve them all at once and it is up to leaders to make these choices. Think about the problem you are desperate to solve, and then figure out where it makes sense to leverage AI in solving that problem.

What support leaders can do:

Define your problem. Does your support team struggle to close tickets in a timely matter? Do support reps struggle to find answers to customer questions in your knowledge base? Hone in on what that problem is and then look for an appropriate solution.

#3 Be appropriately ambitious.

It is important that an AI-driven leader not only has ambition, but the right level of ambition. This means looking at smaller projects, the “low hanging fruit”, that will have an impact in people’s everyday work flows and make these processes more efficient. Don’t set unrealistic expectations.

“Having a clear set of criteria for when you go into production deployment is very critical for AI-first executives.” — Tom Davenport, AI at Work

What support leaders can do:

Get clear about the goals that you are leveraging AI to achieve. Do you want to lower time to resolution? Improve customer satisfaction? Increase rep productivity? Look at where you are in those areas and set goals accordingly for your team.

#4 Get out of “pilot and prototype” mode

An AI-driven leader can look beyond the pilot and proof of concept stage. They understand that in order for AI to make a difference in an organization, they need to reach full production status with these projects. They can help assess the potential of these projects in full production before starting a pilot project.

What support leaders can do:

Put the product to work. AI is different than other technologies in that it gets smarter and better at its job when you use and train it. Have that mindset when you are in pilot and proof of concept stage. Don’t get stuck there.

#5 Understand implications for the workforce

Good AI-driven leaders prepare their teams for their new AI-colleague. They set realistic expectations for employees while teaching and recruiting for the skills necessary for successful adoption. All employees will need to understand where the technology fits into their everyday workflows.

“It has more implications for your workforce. I think letting them know that and letting them know how they can add value is critical.” — Tom Davenport

What support leaders can do:

Who is going to be using this tool the most? Is it your Tier 1 support reps? Your support managers? Whoever it is, talk to them and coach them through it. Let them know what they need to do in order to get their new AI co-worker up to speed. The more they know, the better they can add value.

In Conclusion…

If you want to be an AI-driven support leader (and you should), start by doing these things. Check out the full AI at Work podcast episode on being an AI-driven leader, here. To read more from Tom Davenport on using artificial intelligence in business, check out his book The AI Advantage: How to Put the Artificial Intelligence Revolution to Work.

Subscribe to AI at Work on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, SoundCloud or Spotify.

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Topics: AI, Customer Support, automation