Last month, we were part of the first ever Digital Humans Day, including the panel discussion hosted by Daryl Reva, UneeQ’s SVP Marketing.

Stephen Ward, Partner at Deloitte Digital in the Netherlands, was one of the experts from the world of AI, digital humans and enterprise innovation who joined the virtual discussion.

Here’s what Stephen has to say about putting better human experiences at the core of digital business and how AI is being embraced by enterprises today. Stephen also offers insights into the shift he’s seen as CXOs move their focus towards digital interactions, plus, he weighs in on where digital humans will be within the next three years.

Daryl: So, Stephen, let me talk to you about the same question, because obviously Deloitte has this platform around elevating the human experience. And I’d love for you to kind of just touch on that and maybe talk a little bit about what Deloitte is specifically doing around conversational artificial intelligence.

Stephen: Thanks, Daryl. I guess to make it practical for the audience, I think in the last 10 years of helping clients elevate that human experience – and what we say go beyond customer experience – really, I think AI has come to the forefront in the last five to six years. And one of the papers we’re coming out with tomorrow is around, about 37% of organizations have embraced AI today. So that’s on a 270% growth, but at the same time, an opportunity for growth further. But what you’re seeing is organizations are really using AI in the core of their organization for automation and now only really getting used to the customer space. And I think we’ve all seen, and as Danny mentioned, 2016 the emergence of chatbot etc. But when I talk to my clients, at least, what they really miss is whilst they’re embracing that, is really the emotional connection. And I think it was mentioned a few times, the emotional connection through engaging rather than talking to your clients. So we’re really seeing now an influx of that.

I mean, to be honest, Deloitte Digital, where we try to help our clients with that journey, we’re also embarking on that journey, so it’s not something we’ve got all the answers to. But in the first implementations we’ve done, I think what you’re seeing is taking small steps, maybe in the sort of less transactional areas of the business, also from a compliance perspective and privacy perspective and getting an experienced learning as you go, iterating is really what we’re seeing with clients.

We’ve just launched the first Dutch-speaking digital human, which is a great moment really to help old people during COVID. So we worked hard when COVID hit to really have a project that has an impact, not a commercial project for us, but really look at how we can help old people in homes that were locked down on making information more accessible and having a dialogue rather than a search on a website of the local government that was very difficult to read. Just having that touch-of-a-button conversation with a digital human, and just the personal pleasure that you see doing user-centric design with older people, just puts a smile on your face. And I think it gives a real sort of platform for what is potential – whether it’s in branding, as was just presented, or what it comes into, really, the core of the transaction of the enterprise. But maybe I can talk about that in a few minutes.

Daryl: Yeah, you know what I really liked about your comments was you talked about these companies needing to embrace artificial intelligence. And I think if you ask the question, even at the beginning of this year, how many people are interested in artificial intelligence, it’s significant, but be able to walk that line and having partners like Deloitte to really take end users and customers and help them understand what is going to be necessary as they kind of embrace and dive into this whole world of artificial intelligence. I’d liken it to the constructs of digital transformation about five to eight years ago, where now it actually has some teeth into it. So, awesome. Thank you for that.

So, Stephen, let me let me pivot over to you, because Deloitte works with some of the most amazing and important brands on the face of this Earth. And we’ve heard time and time again that because of obviously everything we’re going through with the epidemic, that roadmaps and technologies are getting pulled in to the point where even in the retail market, two years of digital transformation has taken place in two months. So can companies take advantage of this time and really create differentiation with their services?

Stephen: I’ve spoken probably to about 30 to 35 CXOs (chief experience officers) in virtual sessions over the last few months and I think it went from “the future of the office” discussion to “agility in the supply chain and agility in the enterprise when it comes to the digital core”. And now it’s all about digital interaction. So we’ve gone through the response phase. We’re going to recover phase and hopefully as we move forward into the back end of the year, we’ll go into a thrive phase.

And I think every conversation is the same, that we will not go back to how it was, whether it was in retail. And the role of digital interaction is an area that is going to accelerate or is accelerating. I think one retailer here in the Netherlands said, as you said, they’ve accelerated a year’s worth of transformation in three months – because they had to. So the points of you have to, and do it in an emotional way that you embrace your NPS scores, your customer engagement and then really it’s a trigger to move beyond the chatbot you’ve implemented and to get into the core of the enterprise, on top of Salesforce on top of any other enterprise system where digital humans are really then coming into the fray.

So the technology’s there, and I think the time is there. So I see an acceleration and that’s why we’re so excited about it also at  Deloitte Digital to help our clients on that journey.

Daryl: All right, let’s move on. And I want to kind of go around the horn and just hear some of the thought process of where we think digitally humans are going to be and where they we think they’re going to be most impactful in our daily lives.

Stephen: Looking at three years [ahead], I think what we’re going to see is embracing around the marketing side first. I think we’ve heard a lot about that and the customer engagement piece. I’m also pretty excited about what this can do to augment the real human and the enterprise and really the transactional part of the business, whether that’s triaging a patient into a hospital, the triaging them off to a real human and taking some of that weight-load off of the real human jobs, I think that’s where the big ROI is going to be seen, and what I’m most excited about. I see the space as a whole evolving. Obviously, cloud is being embraced –I think this will be an advocate of that transition and we’ll increasingly see digital humans embedded into enterprise software. I think that’s going to be the next wave in three years.

Getting ahead of the wave

At Digital Humans Day, we unveiled UneeQ Creator – the world’s first publicly available platform on which anyone can design, develop and deploy their own digital humans.

So if you’d like to experiment with your own digital human project, there’s never been a better time. By starting now, you’re in a great position as the wave of digital human innovation swells.

You can sign up for a free trial and start designing and training your digital human today. And discover a little more about what you can do on UneeQ Creator via the link below.