The love-hate relationship that many managers have with IT appears to have intensified as emerging technologies become more widely employed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
A survey of 150 managers in companies with at least 500 employees conducted by the market research firm PureSpectrum on behalf of Thirdera, a provider of IT services, finds over two-thirds ( 69%) reporting emerging technologies — such as search engines, enabled with artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots, self-service portals, mobile applications, AIOps platform, business intelligence (BI) applications and dynamic scheduling tools — have increased productivity substantially, with 67% reporting they are saving at a minimum four hours per week as more tasks become automated.
Over a third (34%) of respondents also noted the return on investment (ROI) from the use of these tools was achieved in no more than three months. A full 89% said ROI was achieved in less than a year.
Overall, well over three quarters of respondents (83%) said employees use some subset of these emerging technologies daily with nearly half (46%) doing so for at least a year. The most common use cases for these technologies are IT service management (68%), IT operations management (57%) and financial management (37%). The most popular technologies are mobile apps (69%), BI tools (65%), self-service portals (53%), AI-powered search (44%), intelligent chatbots (36%) and dynamic scheduling tools (36%).
Despite these significant levels of adoption, nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents also admitted they are concerned their company’s use of these technologies will someday make their job functions less relevant. Only a little more than a third of respondents (35%) said their organization’s approach to service management was outdated or a little “behind the times.”
Nearly half of respondents (48%) noted emerging technologies were too expensive. Just under a third (32%) said the tools malfunction frequently, with just over a quarter (26%) noting they are hard to learn. Well over a third (38%) said colleagues and/or customers would prefer more human forms of contact and engagement.
Just over a third (36%) said organizations should adopt these technologies aggressively, while an almost equal number (33%) recommended caution. Nevertheless, in many cases the sentiment is these technologies will lead to better employee satisfaction (43%) and improved customer satisfaction (42%).
Taking Emerging Tech Mainstream
At this point it’s not a question of whether these technologies will be adopted as much as it is how quickly they will be mastered, says Thirdera CEO Jason Wojahn. Most organizations recognize that customer experience, now driven largely by IT, needs to continuously evolve, he adds. “You’re never done evolving the customer experience,” he says.
The challenge, of course, is determining which technologies across a continuum are ready for mainstream adoption. Mobile applications, for example, are now routinely expected to be available. AI is more difficult for most organizations to assess and invest in given the level of expertise and funding often required.
One way or another, naturally, progress will be made. It will undoubtedly be an uneven experience, but as one organization makes progress rivals are eventually forced to respond. There may always be a need for some level of personal customer touch. However, the truth is most customers want to accomplish a task with the least amount of hassle possible, which like it or not, now means removing people from the customer service equation whenever practical.