The role of innovation manager has taken on fresh importance as businesses seek to recover from COVID. Their fresh insights are backed by the use of AI and chatbot technology to help create new business value while improving processes and preparing for the future.
Tasked with improving the ways companies work, innovation managers are at the forefront of driving change. Often through digital adoption, they help startups and SMBs grow, and improving the existing processes within larger organisations.
In many cases, the innovation is focused on traditional areas that rarely change for companies, such as winning new customers, getting their product to a wider market or refining internal tasks to make the business fitter for the future
Among the arsenal of the innovation manager, AI tools and chatbots are playing a rapidly growing role. Adding or improving AI and automation can help the company better understand itself, their customers, marketing messages and staffing issues.
Innovation Through Chatbots
Chatbots might seem like an established part of the business furniture, but they are still only used by a small percentage of businesses. According to stats, Only 40% of major companies planned to implement a chatbot in 2019. And, while in 2020, some 80% of entrepreneurs will use chatbots, there’s a huge swathe of companies not feeling the need for them.
Those numbers will definitely change as the clarity of use cases came into focus during the COVID crisis. Chatbots were used at a national, governmental and wide-ranging healthcare level to deliver alerts, messages and advice.
All sizes of businesses rapidly deployed bots to deliver change of service messages, handling cancellation, refunds, grants and payment break interactions. The bots were developed in days or weeks, not the usual months. They saw massive numbers of interactions with Dutch airline KLM reporting that service volumes handled by a bot hugely increased in March & April (from 8.1% to 22%).
For an airline flying 35 million passengers per year, that’s a huge number, with people seeking flight information, cancellations and safer-travel news. Innovation managers can use this and other examples as guides to how bots can improve a company’s performance.
Even for small businesses, the need to communicate when normal channels are closed or limited saw a great need for bots, while educational institutes had their own set of issues with remote classes, large numbers of students asking questions and so on.
Now we are hopefully on the other side of the virus, innovation managers can highlight these use cases to show how bots can improve the performance of a business and prepare it for a future when they, say, have millions of customers rather than thousands. Or. a knowledge base of many pages, rather than a light FAQ.
Chatbots can scale, they can learn and are always on, improving the communication abilities of a business. They can translate languages, go from text-to-speech and back, expanding the audience. They can work inside the business to deliver key messages to workers and interact for holiday booking, sickness, equipment requisition and other areas. All helping improve performance, make teams more efficient and allow professionals to work on the key parts of their roles.
And, when it comes to true innovation, the chatbot of 2022/3 will be hugely smarter than the ones we see today, and businesses can use them for all sorts of tasks to engage with customers, carrying on a conversation over the customer lifetime across multiple devices.
As a new area of technology being innovative with a chatbot can still give a business a competitive advantage over rivals, and innovation managers can find plenty of ways for them to make a difference.
AI Innovation Inside and Out of Business
AI is already present in many analytics tools, smart services like Alexa and Siri, and can help drive deep-thought tools to provide business information that adds value and aids decision making. But that’s just the start for AI within the office.
As smart systems link together, innovation managers can show how companies can work with their partners to link services together, improving supply chain, ordering and processing tasks. While companies in vertical markets will increasingly monitor and communicate with each other using AI to automate regular tasks.
Using machine learning and deep learning, AI applications will be able to pick through data from all sorts of sources both internal and external, and deliver advice or analysis in real-time, speeding up how a company might operate. From marketing to production, there is nowhere that AI cannot play a role.
When business AIs gain the ability to self learn and they can optimise tasks on the fly and as more companies adopt robots or automated services the AIs can be left in charge running the business at its most efficient and alert managers only when unusual conditions occur.
The key role of the innovation manager
For busy managers and owners trying to get their companies back into shape, the innovation manager is the one who will have the time to explore these ideas and see where they can positively impact the business. That might be in generating value this year or further into the future, saving money tomorrow, or planning for an automation overhaul.
They have the experience of seeing where businesses are strong and weak at handling their data or managing their processes, and can see where AI and bots will add the most value. Even if you company doesn’t seem like the sort of business that can use these new technologies, the innovation manager can identify places, express the value proposition and even develop working prototypes or products using no-code bots and similar solutions.
Every business needs to be at its most efficient in the coming years. Innovation managers are the right people to explore the near future and see where technology, among traditional solutions, can help set a company on the right path.
Chris Knight writes about where technology will take us next, from the power of neural networks, artificial intelligence and chatbots, to the endless worlds promised by augmented and virtual reality. From the latest in gadgets and hardware to how digital businesses can use technology to grow, Chris makes the future clear and understandable to all.