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IT Leaders Can Unleash the Power of AI to Build a Customer Company

Learn how to become a customer company through IT and AI implementation to create seamless customer experiences.

Regardless of industry or what you’re selling, delighting your customers is key to your success — where trust, personalisation, and seamless interactions intersect. But pleasing your customers isn’t just about meeting their needs — you need to be one step ahead. In fact, 62% of customers expect businesses to anticipate their needs. 

But making customers happy is often easier said than done.

The sheer volume of data and the fact it’s often scattered across different systems within an organisation can make this challenging to achieve. Inefficient systems, disconnected data, manual processes, plus a shortage of talent and resources all stand in the way of an organisation becoming a customer company.

So how will your business meet the growing expectations of customers? They’ll rely on IT.

Unlike ever before, organisations have the power to place customers at the centre of everything they do. From enabling personalised touchpoints to curated buying experiences, IT makes all this possible. With a single platform that connects your data and systems, creates a complete and harmonised customer profile, and securely automates processes at scale, IT empowers organisations to drive success, deliver impact, and delight customers.

Unlock the power of AI

To become an intelligent customer company, your employee and customer experiences must be powered by AI. IT leaders agree: 84% believe that generative AI will help them better serve customers, and organisations are thus accelerating their AI adoption. 

But this isn’t just a flashy trend. AI has proven to have a strong ROI. AI solutions have boosted revenue growth and reduced costs for 67% and 79% of organisations, respectively. Today, AI has become a priority for 67% of IT leaders.

Through the power of the right AI technology, like Einstein GPT and CRM Analytics, organisations can make smarter predictions, serve up better recommendations, and generate more personalised interactions for customers — no data analyst required.

Eighty-five percent of customers expect consistency across their interactions with an organisation. With the power of AI, you can build the seamless interactions they’re craving. Here’s where AI-powered chatbots, apps, and self-service portals can come in.

In recent years, chatbot usage has increased from 43% to 58%. With this technology, companies can generate personalised responses to customer inquiries and streamline the creation of self-service knowledge articles. This means fewer manual tasks, better customer experiences, and more time to concentrate on innovation.

Hello, improved buying experiences and increased productivity!

But generative AI has emerged in ways that not only support customer interactions but help other parts of the organisation perform their jobs better and faster. Consider how developers are now using generative AI to help write code.

To unlock the power of AI, you need:

  • Reliable and trusted customer data to build a harmonised customer profile
  • Pre-built, custom, or public AI models — ideally a combination of these — to feed your data into so insights can be leveraged into automated actions
  • A single platform with security and governance built-in to enable both innovations and increased customer trust. 

AI is the key to being able to create more personalised experiences to delight your customers with each interaction. From being able to automatically categorise customer service cases for improved live interactions to prioritising sales deals to reduce time in closing sales leads, AI can empower your teams to deliver more for your customers.

AI is only as good as your data

Connecting clean data is critical to unlocking AI capabilities. Only with reliable and trusted data, pulled together on a single platform from service, sales, and other relevant sources, can AI even perform as intended. Remember: good in, good out. 

But for years, the promise has been that with more data, we’d know exactly what we needed at the right moment to deliver amazing customer experiences. It’s a critical component of becoming a customer company. But this reality is still far out of reach for many organisations.

The amount of data generated each day continues increasing. By 2025, there will be 100 zettabytes of data in the cloud with the amount forecasted to double by 2026

An organisation’s data is often siloed in a host of different systems. To connect and harmonise it can require specific, costly, technical expertise, and there are also security and compliance concerns to consider.

It’s no wonder that 36% of IT teams say that their struggle to integrate siloed data is hindering their digital transformation efforts.

Right now, data is being generated faster than IT’s ability to integrate it, let alone harmonise it and derive meaningful insights. Today, 33% of business leaders say they struggle to generate insights from all their data.

What is data when you aren’t able to translate it into value?

To tackle the task, you have to connect to data from any system quickly and securely. But this shouldn’t be done with custom code — that will only increase technical debt. Rather, create, use, and reuse data integration assets, like APIs and connectors, on a platform with DevOps and security built in.

Since modern enterprises use up to 500 API on average, a uniform API strategy will help you manage and secure all of your previous integration efforts and easily help you create and reuse new ones.

Similarly, having the means to manage the data in a consistent manner helps minimise potential errors by establishing processes and policies for usage and building trust in the data being used to make decisions across your organisation.

To realise the full value of your data, you need to go from data collection to data that drives action by:

  • Harmonising your data into a consistent format to create a unified customer profile 
  • Connecting your customer profile to the engagement layer your customers care about
  • Using your data to enable your organisation to deliver great experiences

Simply having lots of data won’t allow you to get any value from AI. But with a single platform to manage data, integration, reuse, security, and DevOps, you can harmonise and transform your data into something that triggers action and helps you deliver high-impact results for customers.

AI + automation drives efficiency

The number of projects IT is asked to deliver continues to increase — currently at a rate of roughly 40% year-over-year since 2021. With ever-growing project lists, IT leaders often struggle to prioritise when demand outpaces time, budget, or both. 

But it’s not just about the number of projects. Customer expectations are on the rise. Eighty-eight percent of customers say that the experience a company provides is as important as the product or service it’s delivering. 

So how do you deliver exceptional customer experiences more efficiently?

By leveraging the insights from AI and taking a data-driven approach to automation. In fact, 72% of companies are prioritising automation as their strategic priority, with 95% of technical leaders specifically prioritising process automation.

With data-driven automation, data insights can be transformed into action that will grow revenue, improve collaboration, and boost productivity. Today, 49% of companies are using automation to coordinate across business units resulting in better integration of customer data and improved customer experiences. Tools like Workflow Builder in Slack are helping teams not just build shortcuts, but streamline processes to alleviate pressure on IT and relieve them of manual tasks.

Further, 90% of customer service employees have seen an increase in productivity after enacting data-driven automation initiatives. Seventy-four percent of companies’ employee time by reducing manual processes through automation. 

Eighty percent of companies that are combining automation with valuable customer insights to deliver workflows and better customer experiences are seeing significant revenue increases

To deliver this type of impact through automation, you need to:

  • Be able to connect to all your systems — cloud, on-premises, hybrid, or legacy — even with the average number of apps rising (currently at 1,061!)
  • Activate RPA to extract data from legacy systems and assets, like docs and images, that would otherwise require manual work to access
  • Make it possible to reuse existing data and integration components, such as APIs and connectors 
  • Enable the use of low- and no-code across your organisation so even non-developers can participate in self-serve automation projects

Through data-driven automation, organisations can resolve customer service cases more quickly, improve efficiency, and further deliver great customer experiences to drive business impact. 

Deliver better customer experiences with automation

Get the checklist for taking a platform approach to automation and learn how to build a successful automation strategy.

AI depends on governance and security

Connected, harmonised data allows you to unlock AI and automate it. The one steel thread that must be present throughout is how to enable all this securely. In fact, security concerns hinder 70% of automation initiatives.

Successful customer relationships are built on trust. Therefore, securing customer data and satisfying regulatory compliance must be top of mind for IT as part of laying the foundation for building a customer company.

The role of IT in securing customer data is vital. A breach of data can often damage a customer relationship beyond repair. But like ripples on the surface of the water, the effect grows. The average cost of a data breach is $4.35 million.

When there are security concerns, how can you identify them and resolve them quickly?

Most importantly, organisations must enable access to data. Only then can teams begin to deliver better customer experiences. But with growing access to data, there are increased security risks. IT teams must be able to successfully govern all of the tools being deployed as part of the AI strategy. 

With real-time visibility into the health of your application network, you can holistically monitor all your APIs, integrations, and microservices in real time, enabling data governance across the enterprise — even across self-serve and automation tools. As a result, organisations accelerate issue identification and root-cause analysis to ensure resilient infrastructure and high performance.

Developers need the right data and environment where they can test effectively, iterate rapidly, and deploy safely. 

To establish oversight and ensure complete visibility into data governance across the enterprise, you must: 

  • Have a space for your developers to work effectively without affecting production or inviting security risks, making it easy to track changes, seamlessly integrate with version control, and effectively handle release management  
  • Mask data and leverage security best practices like end-to-end data encryption to secure sensitive information (like de-identifying PII) giving your developers realistic datasets to test, without compromising security
  • Employ tools like universal API management to enable consistent data governance across systems and users 

When you can control who has access to which data and affirm that person’s identity, your company has a greater chance of guaranteeing security integrity. Then, more nuanced cases such as masking sensitive data in sandbox environments or safely monitoring events add that extra layer of protection.

A proactive data strategy keeps security and privacy top of mind. And, with a platform where security and central governance are built-in, you can accelerate development and release cycles while protecting your data at every step.

Be empowered with AI

  • AI empowers organisations to deliver powerful customer experiences by driving efficiency through automation and building trust by securing customer data. All of this contributes to building an intelligent customer company — and it’s up to IT to deliver.
  • From product design to marketing to customer support, AI will transform the customer experience at every touchpoint. Armed with the right tools, IT can lead the organisation to become an intelligent customer company.

Act on your data transformation

Seamless customer interactions depend on actionable insights. See how IT leaders are building value and reducing costs with an AI-driven, enterprise-ready analytics platform.

Vala Afshar

Vala Afshar is Chief Digital Evangelist at Salesforce.com. His prior role was Chief Marketing Officer, Extreme Networks. Before that, Vala was CMO and Chief Customer Officer of Enterasys Networks, responsible for global marketing and customer service and support.

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