In a survey of 1000 Canadians, 31% of people said that companies that use AI in their operations and customer communications are the future.
People recognize the potential of AI and companies can no longer afford to be ignorant. AI is now disrupting every industry and the question is whether established companies will take proactive steps to ensure that disruption doesn’t happen to them.
The long-term path to success with AI requires companies to approach the integration of AI through an “AI Triple Win” framework of utility, privacy/security, and trust.
The AI Triple Win Framework
To achieve business success, the framework incorporates three key, foundational components:
- Utility: AI must solve pain points, add value, and serve genuine needs.
- Privacy and Security: Companies must incorporate privacy as a fundamental principle in every aspect of their work as opposed to an afterthought, and data must be held safely.
- Trust: Companies must achieve AI for Good, not simply AI for profit.
Let’s consider each pillar in more detail.
Pillar #1: Utility
To have the goal of using AI simply because competitors are using it is misguided. Whether creating utility means answering customer questions within seconds, serving consumers with more relevant website ads, creating product delivery efficiencies, or entertaining people while they wait for a taxi, every AI tool must serve a genuine need. Companies must have clarity on the role that AI can play in for them in growing their company and that requires Utility.
Within companies that focus on retail and customer service, AI tools help people find clothes that fit properly (Levi’s), and answer questions about products and services (Sephora, Lowe’s). Alibaba, a leader in applying advanced technologies in the retail space, has even employed smart racks and mirrors to help people see themselves in new styles without ever trying the clothes on, a boon for accessibility.
Similarly, within the food and QSR category, both Campbell’s Soup and Knorr use AI to help customers customize recipes based on ingredients currently in their home. Taco Bell uses a Slack chatbot to take orders. In addition, Domino’s Pizza allows consumers to place orders by sending a message that contains only the word “Pizza.”
Consumers are ready for AI customer experiences
Our research has showed that Canadians feel positive about AI in the customer service space. Many people believe that AI has the potential to improve customer service (40%) and can provide the same or better customer service than a person (20%). Further, 59% of people would feel comfortable with AI providing recommendations on what to purchase.
Given that 36% of people say Canadian businesses should invest in using AI technologies to run their business, it is clear that consumers are ready for companies to use AI.
Pillar #2: Privacy and Security
Unfortunately, few companies have made the second pillar, privacy, a key differentiator. DuckDuckGo, an internet browser that purposefully does not track its users movements (unlike Google, Firefox, and others), is enjoying increased consumer interest. Snips is an up-and-coming voice assistant alternative to Alexa and Siri that focuses on privacy and security. And Purism builds digital technologies with security as the main feature.
What companies can do, however, is make privacy and security key components of their publicly displayed company policies. Plain language allows anyone to understand what data a company is collecting and for what purpose (Apple, Encircle), what changes have been made to privacy policies (Fitbit), and how to withdraw consent for the collection of data (Danske Bank).
Consumers are ready to bring AI into their personal lives
Our research shows that people are comfortable with the possibilities that AI facilitates. People are comfortable trusting AI to regulate the temperature inside their homes (72%), organize their schedules (64%), and provide companionship to people who need it (58%). At the same time, however, people don’t blindly trust brands to respect their privacy and always maintain security. More than 43% of people worry about the AI on their phone, and a whopping 78% believe that AI will increase the lack of privacy.
We’ve already seen that people understand and want the benefits of artificial intelligence in their personal and work lives. They simply want companies to implement those processes in a way that respects their privacy and maintains their security.
Pillar #3: Trust
The third pillar of successful applications of AI is trust, an overriding aim to achieve AI for Good. In today’s world of transparency and instant communication around the world, revenue grabs are simply not sustainable. Companies must act in ways that are genuinely good for their customers.
Fortunately, many companies build consumer trust by not only providing good quality products and services, but by also actively and intentionally striving to do the right thing. Nike and Under Armor are prime examples in that they have taken a higher level approach to implementing AI in their business. Rather than simply using AI to facilitate customer service and purchase decisions, Nike and Under Armor mapped AI tools against their mission statements to create apps and virtual assistants that go beyond their products and services and help people lead healthier lives.
Consumers don’t yet trust companies to do the right thing
Unfortunately, companies using AI still have a long way to go to achieve a broader level of trust from consumers. Our research found that:
- 20% of people believe companies using AI don’t have any ethical standards for AI in place
- 31% worry companies might misuse AI to their own advantage
- 41% believe companies using AI are focused on reducing their costs at the expense of people
- 28% say Canadian businesses will use AI in ways that harm customers financially
Even though technology has impacted our lives for centuries, making millions of jobs extinct (Where are the buggy builders and lamp lighters today?), and creating millions of new jobs (Hello, data miners and user experience designers), people still worry that companies using AI will treat people unfairly and cause job loss and personal financial problems. The fact that AI and robotics will create almost 60 million more jobs than they destroy by 2022 doesn’t always feel personally relevant. People need to trust that companies will treat their employees and their consumers fairly today…[…] Read more »…