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Take Five with Rick Davidson: Impatient narcissists rule

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If business organizations are not thinking about the experience customers have with their respective organizations, they run the risk of becoming another casualty of disruptive business models. In this age of the digital enterprise, customers have extremely high expectations regarding their encounters with your products or services, and a transition is underway — from digital to the cognitive enterprise — that will take those expectations into the stratosphere.

Rick Davidson, president and CEO of Cimphoni, a Wisconsin-based business technology company, spoke on this transition during the 2016 Fusion CEO-CIO Symposium produced by WTN Media. While customers in the digital age already expect a well-choreographed experience across all communications channels, the cognitive enterprise already underway is driven by a proliferation of data and will be marked by its ability to anticipate customer behaviors in ways that improve the human condition. In this Take Five interview, Davidson explains why businesses should begin making the transition to a cognitive enterprise.

IB: You’ve described the analog enterprise as a poll, digital as a pull, and cognitive as a push. Is it an easier transition from digital to cognitive than it was from analog to digital?

Davidson: I don’t think so. It’s certainly going to happen faster than the transition from analog to digital. Some companies are even struggling with being digital companies today using the information they have on their customers, whether that’s information they have collected or purchased from third parties.

Rick Davidson, president and CEO, Cimphoni

The real challenge that will set the stage of moving from digital to cognitive is probably two- or three-fold. One is the availability of platforms — machine-learning types of platforms, artificial intelligence (AI). There is really only one that is commercially out there today that I’m aware of, and IBM’s Watson is the platform. IBM has commercialized Watson in essence to open up Watson to third parties, to APIs, to use the Watson platform. But I think there will be more tools like Watson over time that will allow companies to leverage the power of machine learning and AI platforms.

So that’s one factor. Another factor is the level of sophistication that companies will need to develop, the capabilities they will need to develop. Everybody knows STEM — science, technology, engineering, and math. Because the world we’re playing in now has elements of all of those, currently machine learning is a lot about science and it’s a lot about math. But there are two other areas we don’t talk about much and that we need to consider because it will set the pace, as well.

One is ethics. We have all this information and insights about customer behaviors and patterns. What do we do with it and what do we do with it in a way that’s benevolent and treats customers they way they want to be treated and not nefariously? By that, I mean not gaining information that could be harmful or coercive in various ways to customers. So there is an ethical component to it.

You heard the one question from a millennial (conference attendee) who asked about privacy and government and do we trust the government or even enterprises to have this information? We’re going to need to work through that. The technology is way ahead of the ethics and the law, definitely the law. Just because we can doesn’t necessarily mean we should.

With the pace of adoption, companies will have to convince customers that they are ‘doing good’ with this. It’s like the chicken and the egg, and that’s going to dictate the pace. It’s not going to be the technology. It won’t even be the platforms. The platforms will be developed pretty quickly. It will be how quickly, as a society, will we be willing to have tools like Amazon’s Echo, and that’s just a first generation tool, but tools like that to learn who we are, learn our behaviors, and start suggesting things to us. It’s a little creepy now but maybe over the next five to 10 years, it will be less creepy and it will become the norm.


Mar 24, 2016 03:09 pm
 Posted by  Anonymous

There are real limitations to data collected passively (i.e. facts gathered through internet observations) and data given willingly by a client or consumer. I am a 65 year old white male- my daughter is a neuroscientist specializing in gender studies among other things- my office mate for years was a lesbian - I rarely use Amazon but for Christmas bought neuroscience books on gender issues my daughter needed and a lesbian cartoon book by Alison Bechdel recommended by my office mate. Years later any number of ad programs have my gender as female (as I have used Amazon more in the past year they are no loner sending me solicitations for lesbian novels but are focused on some of my actual interests) So the web has a way to go before it is truly intelligent

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