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January 11, 2019
Augmenting human ingenuity with applied intelligence: creating superhumans in an intelligent enterprise
By: Venkatesh A. Rao and Ganesh Ravindran

We’re entering the third wave of business transformation. First, we had standardized processes. Next Automated processes. And now adaptive processes have arrived. Thanks to AI, this latest wave of processes are flexible and faster than ever before.

But that’s not all. They’re also adaptable to the needs of their human colleagues, at particular point in time. The result? They augment people’s capabilities, freeing them up from routine tasks to focus on what humans do best – like building relationships and thinking strategically.

Not that these benefits are necessarily front of mind for most companies when they introduce AI technologies. Initially, many are seeking “straight” productivity gains. But to stop there is to miss out on the full potential of AI and its ability to transform not just costs but customer experiences too.

The Accenture Google Business Cloud Group #AGBG helps organizations to turn employees into superhumans by injecting #AI into core processes.

 
 

So what does augmentation involve? Let’s have some practical examples. Take a typical contact-center. How can AI augment the agents that work there to make them superhuman? By giving them real-time contextual information at exactly the right time and place in their conversations with customers.

As the customer speaks, Google’s AI engine converts the voice signals into text and then proactively seeks out relevant articles and information from its knowledge-base, providing the agent with a 360-degree view of the customer and what they need to solve their problem. The customer experience is elevated to a whole new level.

That’s an example of what AI can do in the front-office. What about behind the scenes? Take invoice management. The extraction of key information from invoices is a hugely labor-intensive task that traditionally involves thousands of people poring over the documents. It’s a process that’s not just slow, it’s error-prone too.

Introduce AI into the mix, however, and things change. Dramatically. You feed a scanned invoice into the AI engine and it automatically extracts all the relevant information and then feeds it into the accounts receivable system. As well as saving time and effort, this frees up the human workers from the burden of keying in the information and enables them to focus on processing the invoices, rather than dealing with errors.

But AI’s power to augment humans doesn’t stop with front- and back-office processes. It also extends the capabilities of highly skilled individuals, enabling those rare skills to be scaled up and applied more accurately and consistently than humans ever could. Take cancer diagnoses by leading pathologists. Even the top professionals in this field disagree with each other in their diagnosis about 30-53 percent of the time. That’s a lot of variance where human lives are at stake.

By injecting AI into the process, that variance can be all but removed. This has two major benefits. First, it eliminates the bottleneck caused by scarce availability of skills. Second, you get more consistent outcomes and better patient survival rates.

All this is either happening now or achievable imminently with current technologies. And the impacts are underlined by Accenture research into human + machine collaboration. We found that a bot working alongside humans in a contact-center can increase CSAT scores by almost 60 percent. That’s on top of improving productivity by 40 percent and enabling people to make more efficient use of their time.

To realize benefits of this order – consistently and sustainably – it’s vital that the AI is responsible. That means ensuring that people always know they’re talking to a machine, instead of trying to pass it off as a human-to-human interaction. But at the same time, it also means making sure the experience for the customer is as human as possible. The ideal? Injecting AI into a process so seamlessly that people barely notice it, if at all. All they see is a superior experience.

By combining Google’s AI and cloud technologies with Accenture’s client relationships, industry knowledge and delivery capability, AGBG is turning all these outcomes into reality and pushing back the boundaries of the possible across all industries. Retail is a major focus, as described in the second blog in this series.

Right now, the holy grail in industries like retail is real-time demand forecasting at the level of the individual consumer. By responsibly combining Google’s wealth of information on customers’ online buying behaviors with retailers’ own record of their transactional history, it becomes possible to predict what someone will buy, when and even where. Say a customer is going to a concert at a particular venue. The AI engine could generate a personalized offer for them to redeem in a nearby store as they approach the concert hall.

The Accenture Google Cloud Business Group’s ability to break new ground through AI is further heightened by the collaboration between Accenture and Google around new product development. Google is always building out new products and services, from NLP, and voice and image AI to inference engines. While these new offerings are in development, Google brings in Accenture to work jointly on proofs of concept and test out the value to the customer. The result? When the products become available, customers can put them to work straightaway, maximizing speed to market and speed to value.

The benefits of turning employees into superhumans really come alive when organizations think carefully about where and when to inject AI into core processes. At the end of the day, AI’s there to serve humans. With AGBG’s help, that’s exactly what it does.

Accenture

Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions – underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network – Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With more than 469,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com.

This document is produced by consultants at Accenture as general guidance. It is not intended to provide specific advice on your circumstances. If you require advice or further details on any matters referred to, please contact your Accenture representative.

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