Every year in the Accenture Technology Vision, Accenture identifies the top five trends that we believe are having the most impact in shaping the future of business. With the rapid evolution of digital technological advances in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, robotics, Internet of Things, and blockchain, among others, the technological field is crowded. But we’ve narrowed it down to five technology trends, and in this blog, I’ll focus on two of those trends – Citizen AI and the concept of the Frictionless Business – which are currently driving many digital leaders to deliver next level experiences. These trends represent vast potential for the future of business, and are pushing leaders to reinvent and reimagine the way we do business. We’ll also be diving into these topics and more in our client sessions and demos at PegaWorld 2018.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the largest trend that is touching all industries today. In fact, Accenture’s Chief Technology & Innovation Officer, Paul Daugherty, was recently invited to the White House to discuss with other industry leaders the growing influence of AI. People aren’t just using enterprise products and services – they’re sharing information and access back and forth with them. When applied to data, AI can help recognize patterns and behaviors, and suggest products or services that help both customers and employees.
For example, we implemented a virtual agent solution at a large North American Communications company that used Pega’s AI-enabled Customer Decision Hub™ to help customer service agents better serve the needs of their customers. The same technology was also used in their digital channels and retail stores to make customers aware of products and services that might be best suited for them based on data they shared voluntarily as well as their service usage patterns. Citizen AI improved the overall experience for both customers and employees.
AI has great promise to benefit both businesses and society, but there’s also caution. Enterprises need to be careful to raise AI that is responsible, and in many cases, show how the AI made its decisions. Enterprises will want to ensure that data collected and utilized by AI is accurate and unbiased; the AI should be accountable. For example, bank loan approval decisions need to be made objectively, use unbiased data, and supported by an audit trail.
There are two classifications of AI – opaque and transparent. Opaque AI is what most people are familiar with, where an intelligent bot is using deep learning algorithms to determine the best action, but the models and analyses the AI is using are not easily explainable and traceable. In transparent AI, an intelligent bot uses machine learning algorithms that can be viewed and understood by a human – so that if a regulator or a customer wanted to understand how the AI algorithm made that decision, it would be apparent.
Both types of AI algorithms have their uses. For example, at a North American bank, we used Pega’s transparent AI features for both credit card and loan decisions, and at a Global High Tech company, we used opaque AI in Pega to make work routing decisions to the best available resource for technical support requests.
What does frictionless business mean? In short, partnerships. Customers, employees, business partners, and governments, among other entities, are seeking formalized partnerships with businesses. Enterprise leaders must shift their mindsets and business models to focus on forging strong, trusted relationships, which are essential for exchanging information.
To do this, enterprises will need to integrate back-end with front-end and third-party or highly specialized systems. The smoother the integrations, the easier it is to connect B2B and B2C. And when enterprises can seamlessly integrate with a wider range of systems, they can increase their technology partnerships, which allows them to expand and scale into new environments and ecosystems.
Many enterprises looking to grow technology partnerships are slowed down by legacy systems and a lack of trusted data sources. We think the best way to overcome this – and create technology partnerships – is by leveraging microservices and blockchain.
A microservice architecture enables an agile approach to app development and deployment, and supports complex processes. It’s modular and scalable, and a good choice for companies seeking to support desktop, mobile, third-party apps, and web services, or global companies whose processes span different regions.
Similarly, blockchain offers the opportunity for an enterprise to transact with many entities through a distributed network. Blockchain is a distributed ledger system in which the data is essentially shared, and this sharing – this partnering on trusted information – helps enterprises access data and complete transactions more quickly.
Pega’s technology provides a user-friendly “on ramp” to seamlessly connect businesses using micro-services and blockchain. Accenture has built a solution on Pega for purchasing a home that demonstrates frictionless business using these technologies, which we will be demonstrating at the Technology Pavilion at this year’s PegaWorld. Solutions like this will make it faster and simpler for enterprises to expand service offerings, transact business, and discover new sources of revenue.
DPA brings it all together
We’re seeing enterprises execute combinations of AI implementations that help uncover and analyze data, RPA implementations to automate work, and APIs to create technology partnerships within a microservices architecture – but those technologies on their own do not inherently drive end-to-end processes. This is where Digital Process Automation (DPA) comes in. DPA provides a low-code, omni-channel solution, giving enterprises the power to define how to orchestrate and manage end-to-end processes; it’s the layer that ties it all together and brings the human into the loop.
DPA not only effectively manages cases and rules, but it is also designed to operationalize a multitude of new channels, robots, devices, integrations, and more powerful computing technologies based on AI. It is essential for the governance of agile app development and for managing technology partnerships.
Pega is a leader in DPA, and their technology will continue to be a key enabler to drive end-to-end business outcomes through intelligent automation.
Transformation in action
To truly drive the work and systems performance that enhance customer interactions, it’s essential to design systems for the human in the middle. Accenture uses a Design Thinking, human-centered approach to build solutions that first seek to understand the desired customer or user outcome before designing and building the technology. This could be an AI-enabled solution in which AI is the new UI – transforming the user and/or customer experience. Or, it might involve improvements to existing upstream processes removing barriers that were blocking an optimal performance. In all cases, our design focuses intently on the human experience, and takes a collaborative and iterative approach.
Pega’s DPA and AI technologies plug-in well to Accenture’s Design Thinking approach, since these technologies are designed with both the business user and the end-to-end customer outcome in mind. The low-code, model-based solutions empower enterprises and employees to drive exceptional and rapid end user and customer outcomes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David Steuer is Accenture’s Global Automation Engineering Technology lead and has responsibility for the people, assets, and methodologies used to deliver Accenture's Intelligent Automation solutions, including RPA, AI, and DPA. He has established centers of excellence across Accenture and clients to build capabilities and optimize delivery. He has more than 25 years of experience delivering CRM and Process automation solutions for Fortune 500 companies across industries and geographies, and is considered a thought leader in real-time decisioning, CRM, Digital Process Automation, and large program delivery.
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