ITWeb and The CRM Team conducted a survey on artificial intelligence in sales, marketing and customer experience (CX) to find out what SA businesses know and think about AI.
Paul Mulder, solution sales professional at The CRM Team, says “At the heart of AI is data, and the more of it one has, the better the chances are of AI models delivering useful information.”
Survey respondents say the biggest challenge they face in improving CX, sales and marketing is the integration of technology (67%). Mulder says, “The first step is to get a 360-degree view of the customer, which is done via omnichannel interactions. To do this, systems need to be integrated to some extent, or data must be retrievable and assimilated, then processed via an AI model.
“It sounds complex but there are simple ways to begin the journey. Take writing a proposal for example - there are a plethora of free generative AI tools out there like OpenAI’s ChatGPT or Google Bard. Try something like “Help me write a proposal that includes a value statement for the sale of a house”, see what you get and gradually refine your query. Once you’re happy with the response, double-check to make sure it all makes sense and then cut and paste into your proposal. There you go, no more writer’s block and you’re on the AI bandwagon.
“Consumer-driven AI is compelling businesses to adopt AI at a speed they’re struggling to keep up with. The AI boat has left the harbour, and business leaders are going to be forced to play catch-up or be rendered irrelevant.”
Consumer-driven AI is compelling businesses to adopt AI at a speed they’re struggling to keep up with.Paul Mulder, solution sales professional at The CRM Team
Sixty-seven percent of respondents say they’ve considered using AI technology to address challenges. “These are the organisations that will survive and thrive, and potential employees will seek them out as preferred employers.”
Half (48%) of respondents say they’ve never used AI-powered tools. “Most people associate AI-powered tools with an application that their work has provided, but many people have dabbled with AI to answer questions relating to their customers, prospects, or competition using free tools such as ChatGPT. Using AI to do research and propose solutions, is the next step forward from using a search engine. Your path to adopting AI doesn’t need to be complex, it just begins with wanting to do things better and faster, many of the tools you need are freely available.”
Asked how familiar they are with AI technology, 46% said they were fairly aware, 44% said they’d like to learn more and 10% said they weren’t aware at all. Mulder responds, “Think about the repetitive tasks that bog you down in your average day, or the research that takes forever, as you scour countless websites, or that email you want to write. Simply ask an AI engine to do it for you.
“The world of corporate AI is slightly different, but the principles are very much the same. The difference comes around the responsible deployment of AI where the privacy and sovereignty of data is maintained within the boundaries of your organisation. Most large organisations have the infrastructure to manage their security and now it’s a matter of using the wealth of data that already exists in the organisation to catapult them forward.
“Adopting AI is a journey for an organisation and really does start with awareness. Organisations need to encourage AI acumen. As of March 2023, the share of US job postings on LinkedIn mentioning GPT are already up 79% year-over-year, according to the 2023 Work Trend Index: Annual Report.
“Although organisations may not have the technology to enable pervasive AI, they are hiring people that know how to bring AI into the organisation. That’s a massive step in the right direction. AI acumen is going to shift cultures and give organisations a slingshot into the future of high-performing entities. Cost and budget constraints don’t need to be a barrier to staff using free AI tools to be more efficient.
“It all starts with a plan, and for business leaders, it is the imperative of transforming the way employees think about and approach problem-solving, with AI as a tool to accelerate the process.”