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A lack of empathy eventually undercuts all CIO projects on ML, AI, IoT.

by Michael Maoz  |  September 14, 2016  |  Comments Off on A lack of empathy eventually undercuts all CIO projects on ML, AI, IoT.

As summer ends in the northern hemisphere, it brings another summer where any popular survey at the shore or chatter with the biking peleton reveal the same reality: there is no meaningful impact of IoT, ML or AI on the way the enterprise engages the customer. Machine learning and AI are the new Soylent Green (the wonderful 1973 dystopian film, ), the miracle food that will provide IT with the nourishment to get through the famine of empathy in the enterprise.

Who among the readers cannot bring numerous cases of institutional indifference to the needs and/or life of the customer? The stories outnumber random acts of corporate kindness by a factor of 20-1. Here is one from this week: the electricity provider in my New England state sent out a letter to all homes that exceeded a certain consumption of electricity stating, “You have exceeded x kilowatt hours of electricity in one of the previous 12 months. If your next billing cycle exceeds 2000 kilowatt hours, you will automatically be placed on a new (higher) tariff automatically.”

So, what is issue of no empathy? Well, let’s look at a few questions:

  • When did the electric company decide on the new policy? Rather than say, if you exceed X in any of the future billing cycles, you will be transferred to a new (higher) rate, they leave the consumer with no ability to respond.
  • Why did the company not communicate the new policy when it was decided upon, which would give consumers a chance to alter consumption patterns?
  • What type of very, very basic analytics were performed to see that the summer of 2016 in certain New England states, including this one, were several percentage points higher than average, and among the warmest on record, with higher humidity, and less cloud cover? Basically, consumers are punished for maintaining the same level of personal comfort.
  • The letter was sent in the middle of August, saying that if the ‘next’ billing cycle exceeded a number, the rate would automatically be raised to the higher tariff. But that “Next” cycle was already half over, and a consumer would have no way to respond or change consumption patterns.
  • Where was the escalation process, or the mediation process, or the process to contest the change? None.

Where is the CIO? Where is Big Data, little data, machine learning? How are the new ‘Smart Meters’ being utilized by the utility? To be punitive closer to real time. Maybe Real Time Indifference will be the primary result of In Memory Computing.

The company is not a monopoly in this case, but it is extremely difficult to determine how and if a consumer should switch to an alternative. It returns an enormous amount of money to shareholders. The service is stable. And given the chance to disappoint the consumer financially, it never fails.

The net: The CIO can play with all of the toys that they want, like switching out that butter knife your two year old is playing with and giving them a surgical scalpel instead. More blood, faster, but at least things are more interesting!

So: where can the enterprise go to imbibe empathy? Who in the executive office needs to care? How is it translated into business process, and business process translated into technology project selection? And how is the value of empathy converted into economic terms that the Board and investors will understand?

Share your stories of empathetic enterprises – we all know the greats like LL Bean and Lands’ End and a hundred others. Hundreds from among a million businesses. What is the secret to empathy?

Soylent Green is people.

Category: big-data  business-intelligence  cio  crm  customer-engagement  customer-service  digital-humanism  innovation-and-customer-experience  intent-driven-enterprise  it-governance  leadership  strategic-planning  trends-predictions  

Michael Maoz
VP Distinguished Analyst
13 years at Gartner
26 years IT industry

Michael Maoz is a research vice president and distinguished analyst in Gartner Research. His research focuses on CRM and customer-centric Web strategies. Mr. Maoz is the research leader for both the customer service and support strategies area and customer-centric Web… Read Full Bio

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