AI Disruption Is Here! Are You Managing It Well?

AI technology and management concept with illustration of a robot

Simon Kriss, Chief Innovation Officer for the CX Innovation Institute, shares his thoughts on how CX leaders should embrace AI disruption – instead of fearing it.

All Anyone Is Talking About Is AI

Have you logged on to LinkedIn in the last three months? Or for that matter any other social platform, newspaper, or business podcast?

Like me, your feed is probably full of articles or stories about the transformative power of AI. It seems that since OpenAI released ChatGPT late in 2022, the proverbial floodgates have opened and all anyone is talking about is AI.

At best, AI is a little confusing in that people understand some of its power but fail to understand how to leverage it best. This is made worse by the tsunami of vendor products all touting “now with AI”.

When organizations look at AI adoption in totality, it is so large and complex that it becomes overwhelming, again fuelled by the abundance of negative media hype around the dangers of AI – and before you ask, no, I don’t believe the robots are coming to get us.


How to Proactively Respond to AI Disruption

To help CX leaders on their own journey of discovery, here are 5 top tips for a proactive response to the likely disruption in every business of AI adoption.

1. The Oxygen Mask

On every flight, the cabin crew show you how to put on your oxygen mask. Then they tell you to always put on your mask before helping others. This is the same for AI. You cannot really help allay fears in your wider CX team if you are not informed first.

This was the biggest driver behind me writing “The AI Empowered Customer Experience”. CX professionals need to know what AI is and what it is not, so that sensible, balanced, and informed conversations can take place with staff and other leaders.

Time to lean in and learn. Start with free AI courses on Google or LinkedIn, and then go from there. Dedicate just 3 hours per week to experimenting and learning – you won’t be disappointed.

For information on promoting learning in your contact centre, read our article: 8 Benefits of Creating a Culture of Learning in Your Contact Centre

2. The Jindalee Approach

The indigenous Australian word ‘Jindalee’ means somewhere beyond where the eye can see. It is the namesake of the Jindalee Operational Radar Network (JORN) defence system which allows Australia to detect inbound threats over the horizon. The ultimate early-warning system.

Person explaining something with a whiteboard presentation
Fill that vacuum with information and ideas

This is a lesson to take into your AI journey, and more importantly into the journey of those in your teams. A lot of fear abounds around massive job losses in the CX sector due to automation.

Most of this fear is unfounded, though. Yes, the vendors will promise you 50% staff cost savings, but the reality is different.

Thousands of new roles will be created in support of AI and your staff need to understand how their lives will likely be impacted.

Fear only exists in a vacuum, and so the faster you fill that vacuum with information and ideas that answer the existential question “what’s in it for me?”, the sooner the noise calms and people focus.

I advise numerous executives and company directors on ethical and responsible AI, and one of the first tenets we always work on is why the company is pursuing AI.

If the answer is simply “to lower employee numbers”, I give them a reality check. Most organizations will be simultaneously making their largest ever staff retraining commitment alongside their AI commitment.

Fear only exists in a vacuum, and so the faster you fill that vacuum with information and ideas that answer the existential question “what’s in it for me?”, the sooner the noise calms and people focus.

Figure out your early messaging about AI and get it out there now! Even if that messaging is a place holder while more research is done. Give your staff a Jindalee view of AI.

3. Assemble the GROM

In Poland, a special forces unit exists known as GROM. The acronym stands for Group for Operational Manoeuvring Response.

The group comes from a very diverse set of disciplines, including diving, parachuting, weapons, counterterrorism, pyrotechnics, strategy, vehicles and so much more. The acronym may also have been selected as grom in Polish means ‘thunderclap’.

A group of people working together and high fiving

Inside every organization, yes even yours, there are a few visionaries who love to see the world of possibilities.

You will find that these people are the ones to put their hands up for a new project of discovery, especially relating to AI.

One of the best strategies for a CX leader is to purposely form a GROM and task this team with discovering more about AI use cases, AI risks, AI constraints, and so much more.

The team may well start out with self-education and then use this to contribute to the education of the wider organization. They may also be instrumental in deciding what products are worthy of demonstration or consideration.

Ensure you have a broad cross-section of team members, including some divergent thinkers.

4. The Hughes Lesson

Howard Hughes built a substantive empire by anyone’s measure by being a visionary and being deeply involved in the major projects undertaken by his many companies.

However, he pivoted and handed off control of the major projects to other executives who lacked the vision to be able to drive the business in the way Hughes did. The business paid the price.

CX leaders should never abdicate responsibility for AI to another area or department.

In a similar vein, AI is not something that should be left solely to the discretion of the IT department. AI is a pervasive technology that spans the organization and should ultimately be driven more by the operations side of the business.

Unless you work for an AI start-up or a company that is building AI products, your operational input is key to success in AI adoption.

CX leaders should never abdicate responsibility for AI to another area or department. Certainly, participate in organization-wide initiatives (such as the ethical and responsible AI framework), but ensure that your operational objectives are always well represented – even if this means you are the one leading the AI charge.

5. Look to the Stars

In April 2023, the Space-X latest-generation rocket lifted gently from the pad and for four minutes it flew right on course.

Then the worst-case scenario occurred, and the rocket exploded! The more interesting piece of this story is that as the rocket exploded, Space-X staff cheered – including their leader Elon Musk.

Almost every traditional organization has a problem with adopting ‘failure tolerance’, and yet the adoption of technologies like AI mandates that it is OK to fail. The failure is ideally (as Amazon named it) fast failure that comes from a somewhat calculated risk point.

Start the discussion now with fellow senior executives and your C-suite about what level of failure the organization is willing to sustain – and where.

Simon Kriss, the Chief Innovation Officer for the CX Innovation Institute
Simon Kriss

I often recommend companies start with an internal AI use-case rather than a customer-facing one.

Thanks to Simon Kriss, the Chief Innovation Officer for the CX Innovation Institute, and author of “The AI Empowered Customer Experience”.

If you are looking for more information on technology in the contact centre, you should read these articles next:

Author: Guest Author
Reviewed by: Megan Jones

Published On: 6th Oct 2023 - Last modified: 31st Oct 2023
Read more about - Technology, ,

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