Artificial Intelligence: Why It’s Essential For Digital Platforms

Companies widely recognize the potential power of artificial intelligence (AI). They instinctively understand that it feels like we’re on the cusp of something that will change our lives and our businesses in a profound way. Yet, many struggle with where to apply it. Executives can’t shake the feeling that they should have use cases for AI and use it productively today, even recognizing that AI is not mature yet and will be far more powerful tomorrow and in the future. If you’re looking for how and where your company should use AI, let me give you a perspective on a great application of AI today: your digital platforms.

A good way to understand what is happening in digital transformation is that businesses are moving from process orientation to platform orientation. They are doing this in a lot of different ways, but a primary action is building platforms. Platforms allow them to delight their customers by changing their customer experience. Or they build platforms that can better serve employees and so they can better accommodate and respond to regulatory changes.

When you build a digital platform at your company, it typically will have at least five distinct stakeholder groups that it serves:

  • End users (customers or employees)
  • People in the organization who are part of delivering the experience to the end users
  • Company administrators and executives that fund and oversee the platform
  • Ecosystem partners that provide services, tools and products used in the platform
  • Ecosystem partners that are increasingly part of the monetization of the platform (their platforms intertwine or benefit from your company’s platform

No organization is an island, and businesses increasingly go to market as ecosystems, not just as companies. They compete and collaborate across ecosystems. There could be more than five stakeholder groups, but typically there are at least five. Each stakeholder group has a different interest in the platform.

The technology is the easiest part. User adoption is the most difficult part of platforms. The stakeholder groups need to adopt the platform for it to succeed. The stakeholders must want to adopt the platform and be willing to do it. No amount of change management or messaging will make it happen; they must want to do it. The only way they will want to use the platform is if they get something from it. They want the experience that the platform brings.

Although there are many dimensions to a stakeholder’s experience, at the center of each experience is what we at Everest Group refer to as “ACT.” When you design a digital platform, there are three attributes that define its success:

  1. A – The platform needs to anticipate a user’s needs.
  2. C – The platform then needs to give the user transactions that are a complete experience
  3. T – The transaction on the platform must also satisfy the user’s needs in a timely fashion

These three attributes are key fundamentals of great user experiences, and they must converge on the platform to drive user adoption. I previously blogged about how crucial it is that companies design their platform for the “moments that matter” to the stakeholders – the most important jobs the platform will perform for each stakeholder group. These are the “absolute musts” that the platform must deliver to delight the user with the experience.

The three ACT attributes are also where artificial intelligence can play a profound role. Consider the following example with a customer as the stakeholder for your company’s platform. To anticipate the customer’s needs, you first must be able to understand who the customer is. Therefore, you need data around the person (not a persona). It’s not enough to know that this is a credit card customer with a high net worth. To anticipate this customer’s needs, you need to know that it’s Timmy and how he has interacted with your company in the past. AI can take that personal information and determine the next thing you should help Timmy with.

AI can be a vital link in helping you create a superb experience for the user. This is a great – and natural – place to start the use of AI.

Think of your company as platforms. Think about the stakeholders that use those platforms. Recognize that you need to cater to each stakeholder to deliver a great experience. That means you need to be able to anticipate their needs, provide complete experiences and in a timely fashion.

If you’re looking for how and where your company should adopt artificial intelligence, look at your platforms. Look at the user experiences. Look at the point at which you’re trying to anticipate the stakeholder’s needs. This is the point where you should use AI.


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