Artificial intelligence (AI) is anything but new. It’s been a major part of our everyday lives for some time now. Alexa talks to us without warning. Our cars parallel park for us. There’s no doubt AI is pretty smart.

When it comes to the business world, AI hasn’t fully arrived yet—at least not for most companies. While many organizations consider AI to be the next frontier in digital transformation, they just can’t shift into the next gear and further their investment in AI-powered processes.

There is a long list of seemingly valid reasons–things like a lack of expertise, long implementation timelines, and complex solutions. Faced with these obstacles, many companies find it difficult to see a path to success, so their AI projects, and their business transformation aspirations, remain idle. This way of thinking, that “we can’t do AI until we understand how AI works,” has many companies focusing on technology, rather than on solving their business problems.

However, it’s time for the fog of misunderstanding around AI to lift because AI is smarter and easier to use than ever. And the timing couldn’t be better. As the “new normal” sinks in, companies are looking for ways to provide a stellar customer experience, becoming more responsive and easier to do business with. At the same time, they may be struggling with the effects of the Great Resignation and need to cultivate a more desirable working environment to invigorate tired, disillusioned employees. Using AI to reimagine a company’s processes can help deliver on both fronts.

Rather than trying to understand AI, companies should be focused on solutions that solve these business problems. State-of-the-art intelligent automation platforms are AI-driven but have evolved to isolate the complexities of AI from the business process experts that use them. This new era of AI—”Pervasive AI”—marks the end of technology paralysis and the beginning of transformation enablement.

Organizations should stop worrying about how AI works and start focusing on what they want it to do. They should be asking these questions “Am I doing everything I can to leverage Pervasive AI to transform my business for my customers?” and “Can I afford not to?”

Sign of the times: Focus on business outcomes, not tech specs

Delivering a better customer experience means transforming the workflows that impact them the most. A recent study titled “Automation at Scale: Bridging the Gap Between IT and the Business” showed that firms are commonly automating the digitization of information (58 percent) and front-desk interactions (52 percent).

Another benchmark study—”Intelligent Automation Platforms Accelerate Digital Workflow Transformation Success”—found that automating customer engagement workflows has been a clear priority, with more than half of organizations having automated the customer experience (62 percent) and customer relationship/retention (51 percent) workflows.

There’s still work to be done. Many organizations have ended up with a piecemeal or siloed approach to automation. Indeed, the same benchmark study discovered that 65 percent of executive decision-makers say customer acquisition workflows are still largely manual or only partially automated. Critical steps in processes such as customer onboarding, mobile verification, self-services, and e-document delivery must all be included in process automation efforts. Only then can a truly frictionless customer experience be realized.

How pervasive AI turbocharges businesses

Many customer-facing workflows require information to be captured, extracted, understood, and organized. These tasks occur early in many workflows, often at the very beginning, and benefit greatly from AI. The better an automation solution is at this stage, the more effective the rest of the process transformation will be, and AI can make all the difference.

For instance, there are many solutions that can capture data from structured documents that don’t often change, like an invoice or a driver’s license. However, data doesn’t always come in neat packages. It’s often unstructured, like in an email or a product review. AI can cut through the clutter, separating and organizing the key data. Taking it a step further, AI can deliver more than characters or words from a page. Sentiment analysis can capture the mood of written words, giving organizations unprecedented insight into how customers are thinking.

Now, imagine driving this AI-enhanced data through the rest of an organization’s workflows. Think about how much smarter a robotic workforce can be if equipped with better data. How much more effective and productive can the human workforce will be if they’re not constantly deciphering incomplete or inaccurate data. That’s the power of Pervasive AI.

Organizations should start customer-facing workflows on the right foot with Pervasive AI and watch how it transforms the rest of their automation processes while they reap the benefits—happier customers, rejuvenated employees, and a huge leap forward on their digital transformation journey.

Dan Johnson is Director of Product Marketing at Kofax.

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