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AI and automation will need more than a great user experience

CIOs are often inundated with vendor promises of a user experience so superb, they won’t need to fret about employee training. But CIOs should be skeptical when they hear promises like these, especially when it comes to AI and automation technologies.

The advice came from Forrester’s J.P. Gownder. He said recently that user experience, while a critical component to software development and software purchasing decisions, has become a panacea. “People think a great user experience for your employees means that you will get certain outcomes,” he said during a presentation at Forrester’s New Tech and Innovation 2018 conference in Boston.

Indeed, Google searches for user experience have increased by 75% in the last 14 years. But what Gownder found to be a little perplexing and what he wanted the audience to understand is that while companies — be they vendors or not — are placing an emphasis on user experience, they also seem to be downgrading the need for employee software training.

Gownder suggests the two observations are related: A better user experience would likely cut down on the need for software training. But he warns CIOs that the habit of relying so heavily on user experience will ultimately become problematic, especially as they look to bring AI and automation technologies to the enterprise.

“The hardest parts of AI and automation are, in fact, not problems of user experience,” he said. “To drive business results with AI, you need to solve a host of problems around data, infrastructure, understanding your customer and integrating all of this into a solution that will drive value for customers.”

It’s another way of saying that CIOs need to keep their eyes on the prize — solving business problems. What will make AI and automation implementation successful is getting the data, infrastructure and enterprise culture in order.

“Getting software with a great user experience isn’t an automatic path to solving your customer’s problems,” Gownder said. “And employees and leaders and organizational structures must bring something to the table for you to turn this into a system.”

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