Technology has become infused into every aspect of our lives, to the point that we are no longer delighted when it is one step ahead of us, but rather have come to expect it. As consumers, we use a host of smart services or apps to help us book meetings, manage tasks, select the appropriate music, provide product recommendations, and much, much more. We now want our technology to be integrated into many facets of our lives and anticipating our needs.
In many (arguably, most) of these cases, artificial intelligence (AI) is the key to providing these services. AI in the form of “virtual agents” has become infused into consumers’ interactions with organizations as well. Whether it is a chatbot that helps with customer service or a pedagogical agent that helps guide a student through a learning environment, these human-to-machine interactions are becoming increasingly common.
Today’s consumers have become accustomed to the ease of use, relevance, and context provided by AI-powered agents, but the corporate world is adopting them as well. We are seeing virtual agents being used to help manage work schedules, assist with employee training and orientation, and more. While we are moving toward this infusion of iA.Ai (intelligent agents powered by artificial intelligence) in the workplace, we continue to see poor user experiences from the tools and platforms we use every single day. As a research technology company, we have seen that access to the insights and data collected from customers needs to be transformed to better serve businesses.
Knowledge management systems have been on the rise since “big data” became commonplace. These systems are the first step in the infusion of insights and research into daily business. They are part “search and retrieve existing data” and part “collect new data.” Knowledge management systems are powerful because they combine four key components:
- Ease of use: Ease of sign-on, upload, navigation, and search
- Relevance: Accurate and comprehensive results on curated content
- Speed: Return of results in an “acceptable” time period
- Collaboration: Ability to share content with other users, “new content alerts”
What is missing here, however, is context. Context is what pushes the technology to be one step ahead of the user, rather than meeting the user exactly where they’re at. This context is what is needed to create that seamless experience found in consumer apps, to integrate consumer insight technology and systems directly into business workflows. It can’t just be immediate context, either. This next phase of AI-powered insights is about providing the right insight into customer behavior at the right time and place while being in context to the project at hand. It is a progression to the insights agent. It is moving from knowledge management to knowledge exchange.
The rationale for implementing the insights agent in our businesses is more than just conjecture. To begin with, a lot of data being collected is simply being wasted. According to Forrester, up to 73% of consumer data collected goes unused. A lot of money gets spent to gather the data, and then it collects dust in a corner.
For example, we know that marketers have a lot to gain from tapping into consumer data, but according to Google Think, “less than 40% of marketers are using consumer research to drive decisions.” There are valuable insights being left behind simply because they are difficult to share and access.
So, what role does an insights agent play in addressing these issues? They help create a future where insights are embedded into everyone’s daily job. Imagine being at your computer, working on a presentation for a new client, and a box pops up that says, "It looks like you could use some information on what Millennial moms look for most when buying a car.” And you realize that yes, that is exactly what you need, and that information is now right at your fingertips. Or maybe you are on a conference call, brainstorming ideas for a new ad campaign, and suddenly another voice, the voice of your insight platform, pipes up with data from your consumers that is relevant to your new program.
Suddenly, we’re making more informed decisions everywhere in our work lives, without having to spend the extra time seeking out the relevant data and insights manually. Our technology, the insights agent, is one step ahead of us, exactly the way it is in our personal lives. It is enabling us to keep focused on what we are best at, without sacrificing access to critical research.
Virtual, AI-powered agents are rapidly becoming embedded in our personal lives, and it is time that they are equally embedded into our work lives. An insights agent should be at the top of the list. The potential for an insights agent to stop data waste and simultaneously improve decision making is immense. By putting the customer at the heart of every facet of business at every level, costs can be lowered and returns improved. Less guessing, more knowing, better results.
About the author
As the President and Chief Innovation Officer of one of the fastest-growing companies in research tech and data collection, Steve Mast excels at challenging the status quo. He has transformed Delvinia from a digital strategy and design consultancy to an incubator to transform the consumer insight and market research industry. Trained as an architectural technologist, Mast uses this unique perspective to inspire and spearhead his team, tackling opportunities that no other company is addressing in order to help an impressive roster of Fortune 500 clients gather, use and protect data.