The A.I. Buyer’s Checklist: Vision and Goals

In our last post, we discussed the three components of the “A.I. Buyer’s Checklist,” cultural and philosophical preparations a company needs in order to get the most out of enterprise-grade A.I. technologies. This post explores the first two items on our list.

The foundational component of a successful A.I. solution is to have a clear, long-term business and IT vision. At Next IT, we define vision as the ability to think comprehensively about how an IVA will fit into your business for the next 3-5 years.

If you have a discreet, isolated problem to solve, traditional software applications might do just fine. If you have a business need that touches multiple systems, operational functions or departments, you would benefit from a technology that can integrate systems of record and coordinate actions across an entire organization. You have to be able to envision, in great detail, how your business would operate when that problem is solved.

Vision, and the process of creating a complete vision, is especially important for A.I. A.I. asks you what work must be done by your workforce and where you can find opportunity for machine-based efficiencies.

Gartner’s Completeness of Vision rating criteria for their Magic Quadrant gives us a good standard of what vision entails in the enterprise. Individual criteria aside, having a complete vision is the key factor, as exemplified by the world’s top-performing organizations. At the end of the day, it’s not hard to have a little bit of vision – it’s hard to have a complete vision, which is why Gartner specifically judges on this quality: the more detail, the more the an organization can rally around it.

A well-developed vision takes into consideration individual problems, solutions, resources, methods, practices, people, and goals.

This brings us to “A.I. Buyer’s Checklist” item number two: clearly-defined business and IT goals. While vision is about the destination, goals quantify and define what you will have achieved when you get there. You can track progress towards these goals to ensure you are moving in the right direction. Goals are building blocks to the realization of your vision.

There are many frameworks for creating meaningful goals, SMART for example, which stands for specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, and time-specific. Regardless of the framework or method you choose to create your goals, you and your vendors should be working towards – and accountable for – those goals together.

Any intelligent interface should be smart enough to continuously adapt its “behavior” to your evolving business goals, but it can’t define them for you. Before you put A.I. to work, you have to define in specific terms what the “right” outcomes are, based on your vision.

Let’s look at Amtrak as an example. As they grew, their website quickly became the first point of contact for their customers.

Their vision was an exceptional customer service experience that empowered their customers to self serve without compromising the personalized experience.

Their goal was to reduce their customers’ need to call or email a representative, while improving the customer experience during booking and reservation changes. They also needed a scaleable solution that could handle peak-period traffic.

With a clearly defined vision and measurable goals set, we deployed an Intelligent Virtual Assistant that addressed Amtrak’s specific needs. The result was a personalized experience that customers expect with an efficiency greater than traditional customer service channels.

Successful deployment of a long-term solution requires companies to know where they want to go and what they want to get out of the journey.

The next step is building a successful team to walk it. Stay tuned!