The hype surrounding AI-based voice and chatbots is evident, but do they deliver? Most still perform only extremely basic tasks and often mirror the poor practices of traditional IVRs. Customers may be open to the idea, but only 30% believe that chatbots and virtual assistants make it easier to address their service issues.

The things customers say bots are good at – replying quickly, helping them outside normal business hours, being friendly – are not as important as what 60% say bots fail at: understanding them well. Any company that underestimates the value of AI in this area will fall behind in 2023; however, reevaluation is necessary. 

How can you implement AI bots in your company, and what will they be able to do for you? Here’s how Avaya expects things to shake out: 

Companies will take a more realistic approach to bots with a strong focus on improving dialogues and designing superb services behind conversational user interfaces

Customer expectations are drastically changing with the proliferation of AI-enabled speech devices such as Alexa, Google Home, and Siri and the introduction of new applications like ChatGPT. We will see a focus on making customer interactions easier to understand, resulting in less repetition of information and disconnects to create better bot experiences. Integration with cognitive intelligence (context-sensitive knowledge management, predictive analytics, and similar) will be key for doing so.

Don’t expect to see night-and-day differences but rather a turning point in the relationship between machines and humans. We’ll see the continued shift away from button-based chatbots to conversational virtual agents that can handle more complex interactions with a sophisticated reasoning engine and integrated back-end systems. 

Companies would be wise to start with small-scale, attainable applications (ex: having their virtual agent successfully “talk” customers through the steps required for a given task or process such as initiating a password reset, filing a support ticket, or making a reservation). Then, build from there to start using conversational AI in more advanced ways such as instantly capturing and analyzing conversations to initiate action or having bots read between the lines to understand what customers want and feel. 

For now, it’s “slow and steady wins the race.”

Handing off interactions from live agents to bots (not just from bot to agent) for process completion will become an increasingly interesting option

Most bot-initiated interactions result in live agent transfers. Could we see an increase in reverse handoffs where customers go from agent to bot? Yes, especially as processes near completion so that agents can free up more time. 

Here’s an example of how this could work: A customer calls his car insurance company after being in a minor fender bender. The agent walks the customer through the steps that need to be taken (how to file a claim, where to upload pictures of the scene, and how to handle all other needs) and answers any questions along the way. 

It’s at this point the agent offers the customer the option to be transferred to a digital experience facilitated by the company’s AI chatbot. The customer accepts, the call ends, and the bot steps in via text/SMS. The bot can send links to knowledge-based articles, embed “how-to” videos directly into text messages, help the customer navigate the company’s mobile app, and answer any questions in a natural, human-like, back-and-forth conversation. 

The customer can opt out of this digital experience at any point and be elevated back to a live agent with all contextual information. Avaya expects more organizations will consider or facilitate agent-to-bot interactions in 2023 to improve costs and productivity while maintaining, if not increasing, CSAT. 

This will be the year when CX no longer depends on contact center platform features but on the platform’s ability to collect, process, and react to data

Expect to see a surge in interest for communication analytics as companies seek to convert data hidden in customers’ conversations into actionable insights that can be used to make strategic, tactical, and operational decisions. For example, using AI-powered speech analytics to: 

Put together accurate profiles of individual customers based on their interests and attributes so they can be strategically used in future conversations (both bot and human).Generate key insights about a customer group and proactively communicate (via bot or automated notifications).Help your bots understand what customers are requesting (even if phrased in an odd or unexpected way) to recognize their aim in starting a conversation. 

An AI-powered Experience Platform, built on open API architecture, provides the predictive, cloud-based AI capabilities needed to gain deeper customer insights, personalize interactions, and reduce operating costs while reaping the benefits of continuous improvements over time. The platform seamlessly integrates with existing infrastructure, preserving current investments, while empowering organizations to find valuable data immediately and start managing and leveraging that data more effectively. 

An effortless way to get started with AI bots is by using a pre-built VA solution. These solutions are the epitome of “innovation without disruption.” They can be managed and customized from a simple dashboard without needing help from a developer team and can be used for simple to very sophisticated purposes. It’s likely we’ll see an increase in the adoption of these solutions over the next 12 months. 

How do you see AI bots continuing to evolve for customer experience?

Find out more about how Avaya AI solutions deliver intelligent experiences.

Artificial Intelligence

The metaverse—a fast-emerging combination of technologies including augmented and virtual reality, IoT, and blockchain—is poised to change the way financial services organizations and other companies do business.   

“By blending the physical and the digital worlds, the metaverse is changing the rules of engagement and enabling us to connect without barriers,” says Anupam Singhal, a Senior Vice President at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). “For financial institutions, it can transform the way they offer services and training, making them more convenient, engaging, accessible and inclusive.”   

Metaverse applications are developing quickly. According to Gartner, 25% of people will spend at least an hour in the metaverse by 2026. While financial institutions are starting to experiment with pilot programs, they must ensure that they have the right infrastructure and security protections in place to reap the full-scale benefits the metaverse has to offer.  

Innovative products and services 

In the metaverse, financial institutions can offer customers and employees personalized experiences that leave a lasting impression. For example, clients can hold virtual consultations with investment advisors across the globe and improve their financial knowledge by using 3D interactive tools. Financial institutions can also cater to underserved and underbanked customers with minimal to no charges.  

Employees, even the ones situated in isolated, remote locations, can take virtual tours and gain knowledge faster. TCS is developing an application, for example, that leads new employees on a lifelike journey through a bank’s corporate buildings and history as part of their onboarding experience. And with virtual training, employees can practice skills in a realistic, risk-free environment. 

Metaverse services can also help banks attract new customers.  

“We have a lineup of exciting projects, including creating a virtual bank for retail transactions and a non-fungible token marketplace using blockchain,” Singhal says. “We have already implemented augmented marketing and branding solutions in retail, and we are working on pilots in the business-to-business and business-to-consumer spaces.”  

A seamless, secure infrastructure 

To make these dynamic services possible, organizations must create digital replicas of the real world, supported by dedicated offerings on Microsoft Cloud. Seamless connectivity and extremely low latency, enabled by specialized graphics and edge processing, are also critical to providing vivid experiences and near-real time interactions.   

“With decentralized Web3 technology, users can also take advantage of peer-to-peer capabilities, running some tools and platforms on their devices instead of relying on the cloud,” Singhal says.  

In addition to creating ground-breaking experiences, the metaverse, like other emerging technologies, brings a new set of security challenges. Rogue actors could attempt to steal target NFTs and tokens, or use deepfake techniques to impersonate financial advisors. Personal data collected by AR and VR applications creates greater opportunities for identity theft.  

“We must rethink how we address data privacy and security in the metaverse,” Singhal says. “We need strong regulations like GDPR to define clear boundaries. We also need more security measures like multi-factor authentication and digital encryption to ensure secure experiences.”   

Getting started in the metaverse 

Every organization must carve its own path to the metaverse, a process that starts by examining existing technology and defining services to prioritize.   

“TCS has a successful history of helping businesses grow and transform through technology and make a meaningful difference. We can help leaders identify areas where they can improve, whether that means upgrading infrastructure, investing in new technology, or bringing in new talent. We can co-develop metaverse strategies that align with their business goals and objectives,” Singhal says.  

Organizations can then co-create experiences on the TCS AvapresenceTM platform, which uses blockchain, AI, AR, VR, and mixed reality technologies to address customer needs. For financial services companies, TCS has developed a specialized program that involves training their associates to become proficient in using several 3D engines and platforms to address industry challenges, including security, data privacy, and compliance concerns.   

Financial organizations that want to gain a competitive edge should get started soon.  

“Banks that offer virtual services are going to have a larger consumer mindshare, particularly among younger generations,” Singhal says. “By engaging with the right experts, leaders can break boundaries and take advantage of the metaverse’s limitless opportunities.” 

Learn how to master your cloud transformation journey with TCS and Microsoft Cloud. 

Financial Services Industry

One of the biggest challenges confronting retailers today is ensuring convergence between customers’ traditional in-store shopping experience and their digital journey, thereby delivering a seamless customer experience (CX).

For brick-and-mortar stores, legacy technologies often make migrating online difficult. Over time, as they explore online opportunities, traditional retailers often find it challenging to unravel all they have built and imagine their technology stack afresh.

Here, new-breed of players such as New Delhi-based Hippo Stores have a distinct advantage, providing a prime example of how retailers can rethink both business and technology in service of omnichannel transformations.

“We are India’s first omnichannel construction retailer offering the largest and widest range of building materials under one platform,” says Ranjit Satyanath, CTO of Hippo Stores. “Our primary proposition to the customers is that they can get all genuine product categories in one destination. A digital-first, born-in-the-cloud company, Hippo Stores is focusing on using technology to rapidly build and optimize value in the entire building material value chain.”

Ranjit Satyanath, CTO, Hippo Stores


The one-stop-shop for construction materials, including steel, cement, bricks, hardware, paint, tiles, electricals, and sanitaryware, caters to both professional construction companies and individual consumers. Hippo Stores opened its first outlet in New Delhi in 2021. It has since expanded to Noida and Chandigarh and plans to ramp up the number of stores to double digits by the end of this year.

“Most traditional retailers believe online will be a small percentage of their overall business and they shouldn’t disturb what they are already doing,” Satyanath says. “This approach of not disturbing status quo leads to building up of legacy online too. As a result, business and technology process at the physical and online stores never really merge. So, even though the same set of customers come online and in store, they get different experiences because of difference in the technology stacks.”

To avoid this trap, Satyanath’s team at Hippo Stores has built a common technology stack to power both its online and brick-and-mortar stores. Such a technology strategy has provided the much-needed agility beyond just elevating customer experience and reducing costs.

Building an omnichannel stack from scratch

When Satyanath joined Hippo Stores in 2020, he had the advantage of not having any legacy technology, and made the most of it. “We were starting from scratch and could leverage modern technology. There was also clarity that we would own everything that was customer facing. We saw companies that built their technology IP quickly pivot their business models during the pandemic. To gain agility, we had to build technology in-house. Whatever little technology we bought, it was done with much thought,” he says.

For instance, Satyanath deployed SAP HANA because “there was no strategic advantage to be had in building our own ERP,” he says.

Instead, Satyanath focused on customer-facing solutions, creating an engineering team that “is now around 50 people strong,” to build a range of products, “including the most critical technology piece — the ecommerce platform,” he says.

When the online ecommerce application was complete in 2020, it could enroll customers and ingest products and prices from downstream applications. But the in-store experience relied on separate tech.

“As a stop-gap arrangement, we were using a subscription-based POS solution for our store. However, it was time consuming and expensive to build our custom features on top of it,” he says. “Once the online solution stabilized, we decided to build the store solution also on top of it for the cashier to use.”

The team that built the solution consisted of engineers with strong skills in Ruby, Node, React, and DevOps. The MVP was completed in around four months.

“As we built it on top of our online commerce application, we reduced a lot of engineering build time. The store commerce solution has common functionalities such as pricing, customer registration process, and promotions engine that makes for very simple manageability,” says Satyanath, who calls the new solution ‘Unified Commerce’ as it unifies both online and in-store retail functionality, offering a channel-agnostic and uniform customer experience.

The entire tech stack is deployed on public cloud and is based on cloud-native microservices architecture. The commerce application has a headless architecture, which decouples the frontend presentation layer from the backend infrastructure (such as security, pricing, etc). This decoupled approach gives Hippo Stores more control over the customer experience as it leverages APIs for customer promotions, refunds, and wallets to ensure a consistent and personalized CX, and it enables the company to provide its online customers a self-service interface and its cashiers a POS interface, both backed by the same backend.

“The entire commerce application, regardless of the channel, sits on a single platform. The underlying technology, except the user interface, is the same,” says Satyanath, who had to take care of several other aspects while building the ecommerce solution. For example, if the company was offering a 10% discount in store, it had to be applicable online too. Similarly, if a customer was enrolled online, he or she should not have to be enrolled again in the store. Just as in online shopping, returns, cancellations, and refunds had to be enabled in the solution deployed at the store.

“These are the unique advantages that our solution has — a completely integrated yet different solution,” he says. The solution was rolled out first to the store in New Delhi in August and subsequently to the other two stores.

“The challenges we faced were primarily around prioritising requirements, but we managed it by working in close partnership with other business stakeholders. While functionality is one part of the solution, I strongly suggest investing in a good QA team and invest in strong infosec best practices,” says Satyanath.

Empowering business agility

With its unified commerce platform in place, Hippo Stores can react faster to business changes. “For example, if we must add payment options for our customers, it is now easier. In an off-the-shelf solution, it would have been a long process to do so. With our own product, it is just a couple of weeks, and we are done with it,” says Satyanath.

The company can also develop new features quickly. “Credit-based sales, for instance, is something a typical POS won’t have but since we have both B2B and B2C customers, we need to provide for credit-based sales. We also allow payment by cheque, another feature that a POS doesn’t have. Customers can pay by cheque, their inventory will get reserved. The system will automatically check when the payment has been made and ship out goods to the customers. All this is automated. An off-the-shelf solution would have taken huge amount of time to develop these capabilities, but we are building new functionalities across our platforms, and nothing takes more than two weeks,” he says.

Hippo Stores is now pivoting into a new model of business. “We are now taking the franchisee route with the first such store coming up in Ludhiana. As the technology is fully developed by us and under our control, we can quickly make the changes for franchisee in our systems and are ready to go live,” says Satyanath.

The new solution has also elevated CX for the company. “We offer the capability that a customer can put items in the cart while shopping online and then check out in the store through the cashier,” he says.

Hippo Stores was paying a significant amount annually in subscription fees for its off-the shelf POS solution it was using in the store, which would have gone up with the addition of new licenses with each new store. “The fact that we saved some money in subscription is the icing on the cake,” he says.

Digital Transformation

Flexibility and lifestyle are critical concerns for the modern employee. While the “Great Resignation” – a trend that has caused unprecedented rates of employees quitting and churn over the past few years – looks like it is finally starting to ease, the changes it drove in how business is done will persist. Companies were incentivised to invest in employee welfare and development, and those that do that best are now seeing massive improvements in retention. Going forward, IT and the CIO will play a critical role in facilitating that.

The Human-Centered Insights To Fuel IT’s Vision 2022 report, conducted by Reach3 for Lenovo, highlights the importance of IT in delivering employee satisfaction. According to the report:

85 per cent of employees believe technology delivers greater flexibility and control over work.84 per cent say that flexibility has made them more satisfied with their jobs.75 per cent say they are more productive when working from home.

CIOs, meanwhile, also want to deploy technology that will do more than boost productivity and operational efficiency. A full 83 per cent of IT leaders want to deliver digital transformation that is focused on contributing to the greater good.

Delivering hybrid work environments that work

As the Reach3 and Lenovo report notes, driving a hybrid working environment across the organisation is key to meeting employee expectations around flexibility and work/life balance. Employees want to access the office one time per week, and for CIOs, the challenge then is to continue to find ways to enhance the remote working experience so that it can continue to deliver seamless and stress-free working conditions.

Currently, while most organisations allow some form of hybrid work, 29 per cent of employees say that difficulty reaching co-workers is more of a work-from-home issue. Meanwhile, only 47 per cent of IT leaders say that collaboration tools have improved overall productivity and efficiency.

There is a gap between the expectation and experience with hybrid work that technology can address.

As cited in a report on CIO from earlier this year, this means that CIOs need to proactively invest in transformative technologies:

“In its Future of Work predictions for 2023, IDC called hybrid work “a mainstay for our global future work landscape,” adding that “hybrid work will drive new technology solutions across functions and industries alike.”

Technologies cited by IDC include intelligent space and capacity planning tools, which the firm predicts 55 per cent of global enterprises will use to reinvent office locations by 2024. IDC also predicts 65 per cent of G2000 companies will consider online presence to be at parity to real life across their engaged workforce by 2025, with 30 per cent of those same organisations adopting immersive metaverse conferencing tech by 2027.”

With IT budgets being increased by around 50 per cent across the board towards these transformative goals, CIOs have some runway to make these investments. Some of the areas that they should be looking at include:

5G. As 5G rolls out to more locations across Australia, it will become a more viable tool for working. With speeds that are greater than what the typical home Internet connection can provide, as well as better latency and mobility, 5G is set to underpin a new wave of changing work styles and remote capabilities.Secure solutions. The kind of BYOD that tends to come with remote working environments does present security implications, and while VPNs and zero-trust security solutions can help, many organisations need to go further than that. Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) such as the Lenovo VDI Hosted Desktop seeks to address this challenge by maintaining secure control over corporate data while still allowing employees to access it remotely as they need to.Peripherals and accessories that promote wellness. CIOs will also find benefits in providing employees with headsets that have AI-powered noise cancelling features, as well as standing desks and computers that feature eye care modes. Additionally, webcam privacy shutters are essential – people want to be able to use their webcams for meetings, but also to guarantee their privacy outside of work hours, given that the technology is in their homes.

A good example of technology built to capitalise on these trends is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, powered by Intel vPro, An Intel Evo Design. With leading connectivity, security and built-in capabilities, it has been built for what IT needs and users want.

There are benefits to partnering with an end-to-end supplier for remote work

One of the challenges that many CIOs face is that in the initial rush to enable remote work, a few years ago, many organisations adopted technology piecemeal. This has consequently resulted in a large portfolio of vendors to manage. This creates inefficiencies and can frustrate employees when connections don’t work, and technology incompatibilities hinder what they need to do.

Consolidating the number of vendors down to a single end-to-end provider, and delivering technology that has been designed to be seamlessly interoperable is going to significantly enhance the remote working experience for employees, while freeing the IT team up to shift focus from support to further transformation and innovation.

For more information on Lenovo’s end-to-end solutions and the benefits that delivers to hybrid work environments and employee satisfaction, click here.


Breaking communication siloes between contact center and non-contact center employees is paramount to improving customer satisfaction, employee engagement, and operating costs. 

The average contact center agent spends 15% of their working day chasing down information needed to serve customers. These hours can add up to a financial loss of $1.5 million annually for a 200-agent contact center, according to Aberdeen. How much is your organization losing?

Who’s handling your company’s customer experience (CX)?  

Customer inquiries today far exceed basic requests that can be completed faster and cheaper via self-service. People now reach out with complicated issues (and prefer not having to repeat themselves about them) that involve multiple parties and/or lines of business. Why should agents be the gatekeeper of complex customer journeys so many others have a stake in? 

Business leaders need to understand and embrace a shared CX ownership model in which every employee is connected and fully vested. 

Actions in three areas make all the difference, and they are within every contact center’s reach:

Better connect departments for faster knowledge sharingEmpower employees to be more productive and creativeQuickly bring in experts to find crucial information

Avaya expects Workstream Collaboration (WSC) will be a key investment this year for achieving these collective CX objectives, as well as for achieving innovation without disruption.  

Create a conversational workspace 

Workstream Collaboration is a cloud-based application that converges siloed unified communications (UC) and contact center technology into one tool with one single application. 

UC capabilities like presence, messaging, screen share, voice, and video conferencing are available directly within contact center architecture so agents can effortlessly and organically communicate with anyone across the organization – whoever they are, wherever they happen to be – and vice versa, with full security and compliance. Integrated with agent desktop applications, there’s no stopping your contact center workers. 

Two scenarios demonstrating this include a parent who doesn’t know their child’s healthcare costs aren’t being covered or a customer who doesn’t understand why he or she has an outstanding balance on his healthcare account. 

You could see who’s available to help using presence (functionality) and then chat about things such as policy changes and customer qualifications in real-time. You could find the person who has the answers to get the information you need, pull them into the customer conversation with you, or have them help you creatively problem solve. 

All of this happens while the customer is on the call, meaning no need for multiple transfers or even hold time depending on how quickly information can be obtained.

Just as importantly, you can innovate your customer experience while retaining your core service. Workstream Collaboration is a fantastic step toward innovation at a pace and path that fits your business needs. 

You’ll improve information-sharing – helping agents get a complete view of situations to make informed decisions quickly – without abandoning current investments. 

By the end of this year, it’s expected that 75% of organizations will be using Workstream Collaboration company-wide to improve CX, productivity, and company culture. 

CX is everyone’s business 

Customers don’t see communication siloes. When they have a bad experience, they blame the brand. This often falls on the contact center agent who is generally considered the voice of the company. This needs to change. Every employee impacts CX in a certain way, not just the agent who says that first “hello.”  

This year, we will see a significant focus on enabling contact center agents to quickly get in touch with employees from different departments while handling customer requests. The ability to consult subject matter experts or even pull them into interactions with customers will become table stakes when it comes to delivering a great experience.

Start connecting different departments for faster knowledge sharing, empowering your employees to be more productive and creative, and making it easier to engage experts. 

Learn more about Avaya’s award-winning Workstream Collaboration solutions.   

Digital Transformation

Sports fans today have more ways than ever to watch their favorite teams beyond the traditional, live stadium experience, including television, streaming services, even highlights on social media.  

For years, fans have been less inclined to choose the live stadium experience, with game attendance across major North American professional sports in decline. In 2020, financial news and opinion company 24/7 Wall Street reviewed 10-year changes in average home game attendance for professional hockey, baseball, basketball, and football teams across North America and found average attendance had declined by more than 10% over the past decade. 

An oft-cited reason for this decline is increasing competition from home-viewing options. A 2018 report by consulting firm Deloitte notes that fans at home often have access to better camera angles, as well as AR/VR, multiplatform, and other multimedia options. In response, sports teams and venue operators are working hard to improve and differentiate the in-stadium experience. A big part of that effort involves advanced analytics to gain better insight into what’s happening at a venue in real-time so staff can respond rapidly to changing conditions.

In today’s sporting venues, analytics is being put to work to help sports organizations and venue operators better understand where fans are parking and queuing to optimally station staff to take tickets and direct fans to their seats, restock concessions before they run out of items, even increase security staff in certain areas before a situation gets out of hand. 

Here are three examples of how sports organizations are using analytics to gain better insights into their venues. 

Metrics help NHL support sustainability goals 

The National Hockey League (NHL) is leveraging data and analytics to measure the carbon footprint of its teams’ venues and to glean insights into best practices for its sustainability goals, notable given the league’s venues’ dependence on energy to maintain their ice. The NHL has worked with partner SAP to create NHL Venue Metrics, a sustainability platform that teams and their venue partners can use for data collection, validation, and reporting and insights. 

“The most important thing about any sustainability platform is you cannot impact what you cannot measure,” says Omar Mitchell, vice president of sustainable infrastructure and growth initiatives at the NHL. “That’s consistent across whatever your functional role, whatever your industry focuses on. The only way you can really advance change is by measuring, and then from measurement, impact. Sustainability is all about continuous business improvement. Sustainability is all about innovation and business optimization. The only way for you to speak in the language of business is to have the data that help you derive those insights.” 

NHL Venue Metrics is an end-to-end, cloud-based platform to help venues measure and analyze the carbon footprint they generate across areas such as energy, water, waste, and recycling. The operational data is processed using SAP HANA Cloud and visualized with SAP Analytics Cloud. SAP is the technical lead, while Mitchell’s team works closely with the NHL’s club business and analytics group for data capture and the processing of ticketing and premium concessions, for example. Mitchell’s team also works closely with the IT group to ensure the platform and its data are secure. 

Mitchell’s advice: Showcase the business benefits of sustainability initiatives in addition to their environmental benefits. More than two-thirds of NHL arenas have converted to LED game lights rather than the old 1,000-watt metal halide lights. While the LED lights have led to substantial energy savings in those facilities, they also make the ice sheet look brighter, making the surface pop. 

“We’re not telling the venues, ‘You must change your lights,’” Mitchell says. “We’re showing them all of the examples and best cases for why this innovation is so important and successful, as well as the benefits from an environmental standpoint.” 

Texas Rangers’ state-of-the-art stadium built on data 

A new stadium, and the data it produces, have spurred Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers to reimagine its business operations. The team’s new Globe Life Field, which opened in 2020, was an opportunity to develop a robust and scalable data and analytics environment that could produce data in categories that didn’t even exist in 1992 when the team’s previous stadium opened. 

“In the old stadium, we just didn’t have the ability to get the data that we needed,” says Machelle Noel, director of business intelligence at the Texas Rangers Baseball Club. 

“At the old stadium, you’d pull up at the park and you’d give somebody your $20 to park and they would put that $20 in their fanny pack,” adds Brian Vinson, client success leader and principal consultant at Resultant, which worked closely with the Rangers on the new data and analytics environment. “Then you’d get to the gate and show them your paper ticket. They would let you in and then you would go to your seat, then maybe you’d go buy some concessions. You’d scan your credit card to get your concessions or your hat, or pay cash, and the team wouldn’t see that report until the next day or the next week.” 

It took hours of work for business operations to pull data and prepare reports after a game ended. The team’s new environment automates that task, generating a report within an hour of a game’s completion. It also provides near real-time updates that can be shared with executives during a game. This allows the operations team to determine which stadium entrances are the busiest at any given time to enable them to better distribute staff, promotion items, and concession resources. Departments can see what the top-selling shirts (and sizes) are at any given time, how many paper towels are left in any given restroom, even how many hot dogs are sold per minute. 

Noel and Vinson’s advice: Share your successes and educate stakeholders about the art of the possible. It’s not enough to just build capabilities, you need to help executives see how those capabilities will benefit them.  

“The idea that ‘if you build it, they will come,’ does not always work, because you can build stuff and people don’t know about it” Vinson says.  

NTT IndyCar turns the Brickyard into a smart city with analytics 

NTT IndyCar is leveraging analytics, AI, and digital twin in every element of its business, from managing its venues like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS), known to fans as the Brickyard, to providing fans with real-time insights into the decisions made by teams midrace. 

NTT IndyCar has deployed NTT’s Smart Venue solution at IMS. The app takes its cues from efforts made to create smart cities, treating the venue, which draws upwards of 350,000 fans on race day, as a mini city. 

“We’re thinking about it more like the idea of mobilizing and planning to operate a city for a day, everything from moving people around to serving them through emergency services and being able to see around corners where we might want to dispatch someone even before an incident has occurred,” says SJ Luedtke, vice president of marketing at IndyCar. 

Smart Venue’s AI provides full visibility of the venue, with data calibrated every 30 seconds at greater than 90% accuracy. AI-enabled optical detection technologies, combined with real-time entry gate flow rate data, allow the organization to monitor crowds and traffic and generate insights about congestion at specific gates and tunnels using predictive analytics. 

“On a given race day, it is the second-largest city in Indiana,” says Bennett Indart, vice president of SMART World Solutions at NTT. “You can imagine 350,000 people trying to get into the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. For the past several years, we’ve been helping the operations team understand where the bottlenecks are. This year, we’ve actually added a function to provide that to the fans themselves on their mobile device.” 

Luedtke’s advice: Develop close relationships with your stakeholders. She notes that she and CIO Rebecca Ruselink work hand-in-hand. She says their partnership is strong because IT really tries to understand her team’s pain points and to answer their needs rather than just supplying the solution IT thinks would be best.  

“Our teams meet regularly,” Luedtke says. “We have a roadmap of things that we want to accomplish.” 

Data Management, Predictive Analytics

Conventional wisdom says businesses must balance the cost of security with user experience—implying that security is a tax on digital interactions. Conventional wisdom appears to be outdated.

According to Foundry, the need for improvements in cybersecurity was cited as the No. 1 reason for the increase in tech budgets this year. Further, CEOs’ top priorities for IT in 2023 are:

Strengthening IT and business collaborationUpgrading IT and data security to reduce corporate riskImproving the customer experience 

IT leaders do not have to compromise. Advanced security policies, increased efficiencies, and improvements to the reliability and performance of your applications for a better user experience can be achieved together. It doesn’t need to be a tax or a tradeoff.

The security paradox

To understand the “tradeoff” mentality, let’s review the ‘security paradox.’ Cyberattacks are increasing exponentially every year. According to NETSCOUT, one DDoS attack occurs every three seconds, and MITRE has reported more than 25,000 new common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) in 2022, which is a 24% increase year over year from 2021. For most organizations, it’s not if a cyberattack is going to occur, but when.

As the latest attacks and statistics make headlines, leaders often tend to overcompensate by implementing chains of security solutions, often layering on top of each other in a disjointed fashion to protect against new exploits and prevent service interruption in case of an attack.

A chain is no stronger than its weakest link. These disjointed solutions can add latency and performance bottlenecks between security layers and create single points of failure, which impact the speed and availability of businesses online. Therein lies the security paradox: an organization could inadvertently harm itself while attempting to secure its network and applications.

The cost of a data breach

Beyond the implicit cost of security, what is the actual cost of a data breach when one strikes an organization?  IBM’s annual Data Breach Report revealed that the average data breach cost in 2022 was USD 4.35 million—an all-time high. Gartner has estimated the cost of downtime from DDoS attacks to be $300,000 per hour.

What these numbers don’t include is the potential damage to a brand’s reputation and to its customers. CIO Insight reported 31% of consumers stopped doing business with a company due to a security breach; a significant number of these said they had lost trust in the brand. And certainly, poor performance leads to higher bounce rates and lower conversion rates.

With layers of piecemealed security solutions increasing operational complexity and reducing application performance, coupled with the increased frequency of cyberattacks, it’s no wonder these factors lead to negative impacts on customer experience and their ability to quickly and safely interact with businesses online. 

The good news is that a holistic approach to approach security can detect and mitigate attacks quickly before they hit the bottom line. With the right unified security solutions, performance and customer experience can improve, too. 

Debunking conventional wisdom

As already stated, businesses can indeed increase security while improving performance, operational efficiency, and customer experience. But how can this be achieved without tradeoffs? 

By adopting holistic edge-enabled security solutions built on an extensive, globally distributed platform, businesses can address the latest cybersecurity threats and achieve comprehensive protection across networks and applications without a single point of failure or performance bottleneck. The benefits of an edge-enabled holistic security solution are:

Massive scale and resiliency to ensure uptimeIntelligent rules execution for faster threat detectionIntegration with edge logic and CI/CD workflows to improve operationsAttacks mitigated at the source to improve performance and user experience

Security solutions that provide easy integration and automation can enhance IT workflows and enable quick deployments of security updates to keep up with the evolving threat landscape. Platforms like Edgio’s provide developers with a single pane of glass with visibility and control to manage their application performance and security.

So yes, businesses can, in fact, debunk conventional wisdom when it comes to performance and security, but having the right security solution matters. 

The right security solution can ultimately reduce costs, increase operational efficiency, and improve customer experience, all while protecting your data, your brand, and your bottom line. It’s a win-win for your entire organization.

Turbo-charge web application and API performance with Edgio Security.


Digital platforms and technologies are transforming healthcare by providing secure, seamless access to disjointed islands of data and siloed technology. The goal is improving the experience for both healthcare providers and their patients, which ultimately leads to better healthcare and, hopefully, better outcomes for patients. And that’s a pretty good KPI.

In this episode of The New Work podcast, we hear from John Kosobucki and Emma Stratful, two executives from OX Digital Health, a startup whose “healthcare as a service” model shows the power of the cloud and digital technologies in supporting the new world of work, and new ways of doing business.

“There’s a lot of unnecessary friction in healthcare,” said Kosobucki, OX.DH’s CEO and founder. “Our focus is on bringing a degree of automation to clinicians and patients, who as digital consumers have a very high expectation set of what they should be able to achieve in healthcare.”

In this episode you’ll learn:

How Covid-19 accelerated the adoption of new technology to address longstanding inefficiencies in healthcare workflows and processes.How digital workflows can save patients time and expense, reduce stress, and improve the overall healthcare experience.How the move toward API-type economies can accelerate delivery of solutions, increase customization capabilities, and improve integration across different systems.


John Kosobucki, CEO & Founder, OX.DHEmma Stratful, Chief Operating Officer, OX.DHMartin Veitch, contributing editor, Foundry/CIO (host)
Remote Work

Both customer and employee experience have seen an accelerated transformation with the introduction of cloud technologies, were significantly affected by the pandemic, and now see a remarkable shift in terms of new approaches in leadership.

In customer experience, the introduction of cloud-based solutions has accelerated automation and enhanced client success prediction accuracy. As a result, numerous essential concerns like data collecting and reporting, decision-making, and data optimization are being addressed. Tiffany Willcox, CTO at Marie CurieKaren Bach, and Laura Dawson, Founder of Leaderly will discuss the challenges around the Omnichannel Customer Experience, looking at the challenges faced when managing multiple touchpoints and building optimal architecture to support the expectations of the ‘modern customer’.  

Tech leaders are focusing more on developing the right technologies to support and enhance customer experience. Challenges for teams include finding effective strategies for using customer data to fuel experience decisions and developing tech evaluation criteria for their organisation. Measuring investment and determining ROI plays a big part in this and proving the ROI for customer experience is essential for organisations to continue investment and growth. Mattias Goehler, CTO EMEA for Zendesk will share how some of the key customer experience trends play their role and what to consider when looking at future investment. Leon Gauhman, Chief Product and Strategy Officer at Elsewhen will share how data can improve productivity and support customers, highlighting strategies for using data and design to modernize operational models and transform organisations. 

As customer experience continues to improve, support is needed for the workforce that drives it. By 2025, more than 50% of IT organizations will use digital employee experience to prioritize and measure digital initiative success. This is a significant increase from fewer than 5% in 2021 (Gartner). The Keynote speaker is Bruce Daisley, Former EMEA VP of Twitter and best-selling author on workplace culture. He will explore how to rethink hybrid work and investigate resilience in leadership.

Victoria Williams, CEO of Terptree, will speak with Arif Mohamed at CIO UK on how to create deaf employee and customer experiences. There are 12 million people who are deaf or have a hearing loss in the UK, and sadly they are massively underserved by most businesses, retailers, and organisations. She will share insights in what steps organisations can take to open opportunities to deaf customers and employees.

Every business now needs to be digital, and every employee now needs to depend on workplace technology to succeed. As a result, the employee digital experience has become a vital part of staff retention, team productivity, and ultimately business growth. The role of the CIO has evolved as tech plays a key role in collaboration and support teams to continue to optimise productivity. Marie Hill, CDIO at DB CargoKatie Nykanen, CTO at QA, and Sarah Cunningham, Senior VP Enterprise IT at Arm, sit with Dax Grant, CEO of Global Transform to discuss the CI/TO’s changing role in employee engagement.

Distributed teams and hybrid work models are becoming standard. Efforts to engage and keep employees are at an all-time high and now external economic and geopolitical pressures affecting supply chains and partners are escalating the challenges of running a business. According to Gartner, 52% of employees say flexible work policies will affect the decision to stay at their organisation which means staff turnover is likely to increase. Tony Healey, Group CTO at TicketerMegan Dooley, CDO at Openwork, and Bev White, CEO at Nash Squared will take a closer look at hybrid work, understanding how we can connect hybrid employees to the organization’s culture. Georgina Owens, CTO at Liberis will host a discussion with Helen Wright, Group Head of IT at Amber RiverDax Grant, CEO at Global TransformRajat Dhawan, CTO at Soho House, and Emma Smith Director of Transformation at the University of Bath to discuss what Digital Experience means for the business and the tooles needs to acheive effective digital experiences across the business.

The Closing Keynote is Amanda Brock, CEO of OpenUK. Amanda will share her work on open source data and technology, highlighting how it can optimise hybrid work and attract and retain talent. 

Held at the Nobu Hotel London Portman Square on Thursday 23rd March, the forum is free to attend for qualified attendees. You can find the full programme here. Register here to join.  


One of the first things Patrick Thompson (pictured) did on becoming chief information and digital transformation officer of specialty chemicals manufacturer Albemarle in 2017 was to introduce an annual survey to gauge employee attitudes toward services IT staff provides. Now he has a self-service bot delivering some of those services through Microsoft Teams, and providing real-time feedback on what employees want its help with, and whether they get it or not.

Albemarle is growing fast. Net sales have more than doubled in the five years Thompson has been with the company, and its goal is to double them again in the next five. One of Albemarle’s biggest businesses is producing lithium, the low-density, highly reactive metal that revolutionized phone and laptop batteries. However, demand for lithium is now being driven by electric car batteries, each one of which contains thousands of times more lithium than a typical phone battery.

Like other lithium producers, Albemarle is scaling up, and with new production facilities and expanding existing ones, the number of workers is growing, as are their demands on the IT department. Thompson’s annual survey has been key in matching resources to those demands.

“We measure three characteristics: people, process and technology,” he says. Employees rate on a scale of 1 to 4 the performance of the IT people that provide the service, the efficiency of the IT department’s business processes, and the technology IT provides — whether it provides all the necessary features, or is sitting on the shelf unused. Those scales, he adds, give great insight into what to do.

While headline numbers provide a helpful indicator of progress, it’s the detailed feedback that employees provided — such as requests for more self-service tools — that enabled Thompson to fix a poor score on the help desk.

“Some of the simplest things like password resets were requiring people to call in and get a person on the phone to make these changes, when they could easily be automated through a bot with a job aid,” he says.

While the initial need was to automate password resets, Thompson also had an eye on the future, and the possibility to automate other mundane tasks, perhaps avoiding the need for employees to log into particular software tools altogether.

In fact, Albemarle had already developed a number of job aids using ServiceNow and other platforms, but they couldn’t capitalize on it from a self-service point of view. “People were having to thumb through catalogs,” he says. “They couldn’t just ask a question and get an answer.”

Several of Albemarle’s existing software suppliers, including ServiceNow and Workday, offered bots that could respond to questions and automate workflows, but they were specific to those applications. “We really wanted a federated solution, something that could be independent of those, and then create APIs,” he says.

Buy before build

Thompson also briefly considered tackling things in-house and building their own bots, but that would have been very expensive. Instead, he settled on Moveworks, developer of a chatbot that integrates with a number of identity management, enterprise software and collaboration platforms.

Albemarle’s first application of Moveworks was automating password resets.

“Our help desk at the time was about a million-dollar budget, and we had about 45 external providers,” Thompson says. “We were wasting a lot of money on password resets and simple things that a bot should be able to do. We drove that down to $100,000 a year and reduced our tickets by 90%.”

The first implementation arrived just as COVID hit, and Thompson saw the number of colleagues working from home jump from 500 to 5,000 within a month. “Now all of a sudden, the self-service capability had to come faster,” he says. “Moveworks really helped us accelerate that.”

The potential for automating non-IT functions also became apparent during that time. “Everybody [was asking if they could] have a robot for HR, facilities and accounts payable, So all these other departments are now using Moveworks as well.”

Over time, Albemarle has enriched the capabilities of its bot ALbot to include federated workflow approvals, a move that’s also enhancing adoption of other platforms even though users now rarely have to log into them.

An exercise in consolidation

“We deal with a lot of different systems like SAP, Ariba, Concur, Workday, Salesforce,” says Thompson. “What Moveworks allowed us to do is federate some approvals so we can have one experience around approvals instead of having to log into multiple systems. They just get an approval request through the bot.”

Maintaining these isn’t placing an additional workload on the IT department either, Thompson says. He has an application management services agreement with Moveworks, and one-and-a-half staff supporting the platform from a technical perspective. For the rest of it, he says, it’s not about extra effort but leveraging what you already have, and pointing it in the right direction. By that he means ensuring that documentation, like training manuals or job aids, is available in a form ALbot can ingest, or devising processes that ALbot can participate in.

ALbot is helping in other ways, too. When an employee asks a question it can’t answer, the information is logged. “We’re constantly doing this root cause analysis: somebody asked a question and there wasn’t an answer,” he says. “We’re taking that data, categorizing it, and then sending it out to the right content experts and saying, if you answer this question, if you build some content we can point to, this will no longer show up in the queue any more.”

These days, some of that analysis is handled by ALbot itself, he says. “I don’t have to go through all the questions that the bot didn’t answer,” he adds. “It’s putting it in an analytic portfolio for me to give to the right managers.”

The bot has also helped the centralized helpdesk respond to the demands on it in other ways, as it can offer 24/7 support in multiple languages for the questions it’s been trained to answer. “We’re a global company,” says Thompson. “We’re completely covered around the world with the language capability. That’s another powerful adoption accelerator.”

Paths of progression

Thompson has learned some lessons about how automation can save time and cost from his work with ALbot, but his experience with automation — and with Albemarle — goes back much further. His first contact with Albemarle was as a CIO of the company that built one of its plants, industrial construction contractor Turner Industries. That role, and his work automating parts of Turner’s project planning process, earned him a place on the March 15, 1999, cover of CIO magazine,’s predecessor.

Over that long career, he says, 37 of the people who worked for him have gone on to land roles as CIOs, CTOs or CISOs. The part he played in their advancement is one of the accomplishments he’s proudest of, he says.

“I’m a big fan of investing in people, not only on a business level, but a personal level, and teaching techniques and skill sets to make those kinds of things happen. It’s the same playbook each time — a clear vision of basic IT transformation first.”

Thompson’s playbook has three chapters: First IT transformation, then business transformation, and finally digital transformation.

“First get your IT right: your network, infrastructure, security, collaboration tools, and cloud strategy,” he says. Then tackle the business side of things. The goal here, he says, is “One ERP, a single instance, with no code change, no custom code.” It’s also the time to “get your back office synergized, and payroll centers and accounting offices optimized.” The third chapter is digital transformation in customer excellence, the supply chain, manufacturing, and the back office. “Once people are taught that framework, and you back it up by aligning their performance goals with the strategy and empowering them to help enable that strategy, people want to do that,” he says. “They’re motivated. The playbook is there. It’s all in the execution.”

Application Management, CIO, Collaboration Software, Data Management, Document Management Systems, Employee Experience, IT Leadership, Remote Work