Crafting an IT Omnichannel Experience: The Case for Cognitive Computing?
Cognitive computing, which TechTarget defines as “the simulation of human thought processes in a computerized model,” counts itself among the newest industry buzzwords with enterprises that are looking to apply this model across numerous processes and services. As noted by Forbes, manufacturing companies are now embracing the notion of “Industry 4.0,” which depends on cognitively driven analytics and Internet of Things (IoT) deployments to deliver actionable benefits for companies and consumers alike.
But this only scratches the surface of cognitive capabilities: According to a recent IBM white paper, there’s a solid case here for crafting an IT omnichannel experience, one where service and support leverage process-driven intelligence to deliver an adaptable, constantly improving end-user experience.
The Omnichannel Experience
Single-stream service is quickly going out of style. Consumers demand not only prompt responses from the company, but the ability to interact across a host of different channels — from email, to phone to social media. These expectations are driven in large part by the rise of two technologies: Ubiquitous mobile access and big data. Consumers have become conditioned to expect instant responses and unfettered access to information, while companies enjoy the benefits of digging deep to uncover actionable insights using huge data volumes.
The result? Multichannel is no longer good enough; ominchannel is the new expectation.
As noted by the IBM white paper, there are a number of significant differences between multi- and omnichannel services. Most notably is that while multichannel allows users to “transact” with specific support options, omnichannel allows them to directly interact with needed services. And rather than leveraging a system of records to analyze what users need, the goal of omnichannel is to use a system of engagements to predict what users like and want.
Consequently, the shift to omnichannel becomes more than simply a way for retailers to woo customers and streamline the shopping experience, but one with real potential for IT support services. Why opt for dual-channel, break/fix support models if you can address end-user issues more quickly and prevent them from happening again?
The Cognitive Connection
Mobile devices and big data volumes aren’t enough to explain (or support) the shift toward an omnichannel experience. Instead, companies must recognize what truly underpins the notion of omnichannel support: Typical human experience. Users are no longer satisfied with the vaguely uncomfortable notion that their support experiences are in opposition to their daily interactions with other human beings. This is specially true since they’re fully aware that behind every IT support ticket is a human being doing the best he or she can with what’s available.
The problem? Companies simply can’t staff to support the kind of personalized, detailed interaction required by increasingly tech-savvy users. The solution may be in cognitive computing — machines that think, process and respond like their human counterparts to help deliver IT service that integrates context, enables self-service and helps shift the foundation of support from transactions to relationships. There’s already significant progress here: As noted by Computerworld, researchers have now created artificial neurons and synapses which mimic the human brain’s cognitive learning capability. This mimicry represents “a milestone in developing energy-sipping and highly dense neuro networks that could be used for cognitive computing applications.”
In other words, computers that think and respond like humans aren’t an impossibility — merely a work in progress.
The bottom line? IT support is poised for transformation, which demands a human-centric approach to problem-solving and service. To embrace this expectation, companies must not only adopt the emerging omnichannel experience, but embrace the critical foundation of advanced cognitive computing.