Channel, Opinion, Technology

Opinion: Pragmatic innovation reduces risk while building competitive advantage

Savio Tovar Dias, Vice President – Avaya Customer Experience Services, Avaya International

In today’s business landscape, the most significant challenge facing business leaders is the imperative to drive revenue and growth amid competitive pressures.

There are many contributing factors that make overcoming this challenge all the more difficult – from the unpredictability of the global economic environment which often drives up costs of goods and services, through to the difficulty in recruiting and retaining top talent and navigating the complexities of diverse customer expectations.

At a time when customer service makes or breaks companies, these challenges underscore the importance of a holistic approach to customer experience (CX) – one which is seamlessly integrated CX with employee experience (EX) and business growth. Securing and keeping repeat buyers drives positive bottom lines, and the symbiotic relationship between these three components is foundational to sustainable growth and overcoming the competition.

There’s no slow-down in the rate at which organisations are pushing for this foundation.

Significant chunks of those budgets are going towards bridging the growing gap between current customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX) platform capabilities and the ever-evolving needs and expectations of these stakeholders.

However, the prospect of making an abrupt change from existing business communication infrastructure carries high risks for businesses, including potential disruptions to operations and customer service continuity.  This fear of instability hinders innovation and the ability to drive new business outcomes.

Attempting to do everything at once only heightens that risk – and executives have good reason to be wary of that risk. According to McKinsey, regardless of an IT project’s size, just 59% pass the finish line on budget, and only 44% deliver the results that were originally intended. But things get really scary when it comes to large-scale IT projects: A McKinsey and Oxford University study found that IT projects budgeted at over $15 million ran, on average, 45% over budget and delivered 56% less value than intended.

This makes a compelling argument for transformation strategies that are progressive and pragmatic. Ripping and replacing the technology investments which have proven effective to date introduces additional risks for companies’ day-to-day operations and customer service continuity.

This culminates in instability that dominos across internal teams and external stakeholders; it is likely to hurt the CX an organisation offers, and inhibits the potential for future innovation and business outcomes.

It’s a matter of learning to crawl, then walk, then run. A pragmatic transformation allows organisations to forge ahead into new territories through targeted tests and pilots, introduce new services and channels across specific use cases, and explore advanced capabilities such as generative AI without compromising their day-to-day.

It’s also about building on what is already proven to work by leveraging familiar processes, systems and technology as a baseline for new capabilities. In most cases, the safest route to innovation is to identify specific teams or departments – sometimes even single use cases within them – and evolving parts of their job functions before deciding whether that innovation should go to a broader number of stakeholders.

The IT industry is littered with stories that not only demonstrates that a large-scale overhaul comes with a plethora of risk, but that it might not even make sense to apply blanket change in large enterprises where different departments have diverse needs.

Taking a pragmatic approach will be particularly crucial in the face of high-impact technologies such as (generative) AI. For example, an organisation looking to boost employee productivity by feeding accurate, up-to-date data to their workers can test large language models (LLM) within specific thresholds. Once those test cases have been evaluated and improved, they will be viable to other teams without causing disruption.

The pressure to correct existing and establish new revenue streams is at an all-time high, compounded by economic and operational adversities. Companies should not have to compromise their existing strengths to achieve their ambitions and build competitive advantage. Resisting the excitement that surrounds new technology in favour of pragmatic transformation ensures business leaders will navigate the intricacies of their existing environment while innovating progressively without disruption.

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