AI To Impact

PODCAST: AI for the Digital Enterprise

Episode 6: US Firms Eyeing AI-led Digital Transformation for Growth

Listening time: 13 minutes

US Firms Eyeing AI-led Digital Transformation for Growth

After two consecutive quarters of revenue loss and a cautiousness to invest due to uncertain market scenario, some businesses in the US are trying to leverage new datasets for better demand forecasts, and therefore pass those inputs for supply chain efficiencies and offer better customer experience. For those bold enough, this is an opportunity to accelerate their initiatives for growth with digital transformation, observes Laura Mills, Senior VP for Sales & Region Head – US at BRIDGEi2i in this episode of AI to Impact podcast.

Sindhuja: Hi, everyone. You’re listening to AI to Impact by BRIDGEi2i, a podcast on AI for Digital Enterprise. My name is Sindhuja Vasudevan. I help implement AI-based solutions and manage change within our client organizations in Enterprise Technology. The world is currently going through a second wave of the pandemic, and we thought that things were different last month. This current phase has ensured that we all adapt to a technology-driven way of learning, working, and interacting with one another. And yet there’s more to come. In our AI to Impact podcast, we have been bringing expert points of view from business leaders, digital transformation advisers, as well as AI and analytics thought leaders to discuss the impact of the pandemic on enterprises. Our experts have their ears to the ground when it comes to understanding current business trends and the expertise to forecast variables that will influence the overall economics of business. So today, I’ll be talking to Laura Mills, a veteran in sales and marketing with over 30 years of experience in client servicing, business development, operations, recruitment, and talent management. She has a proven track record of delivering sales results, mentoring and developing successful sales strategies for companies in industries, such as Energy Technology, Retail, and Consumer Products. Laura has previously worked with Ernst and Young, Arthur Andersen and Grant Thornton in senior leadership positions.

She’s responsible for leading the BRIDGEi2i Sales team and focusing on new business growth in the US market. Welcome to our podcast, Laura, it’s a pleasure to have you with us today.

Laura: Well, it’s a real treat for me as well. And what an introduction! I look forward to living up to that. So, thanks so much and glad to be here today.

Sindhuja: I’m happy as well, so let’s get straight to it. In addition to the pandemic, we are observing a huge disruption in the US economy in the past several months. The economy is hit, there has been social unrest and certainly with the upcoming presidential elections, there’s a certain for boarding off, shifting expectations one way or the other. So how do you think businesses are dealing with this uncertainty?

Laura: Hmm, great question! And I think the stock market can speak to some of that, quite well, meaning, you’re seeing it up and down, from day to day, week to week. Just the, the lack of certainty on how COVID is continuing to impact the economy, but businesses when I’m primarily seeing from our clients and some of our prospects there, continue to be very focused and bullish on trying to drive growth, especially those consumer product companies that are delivering products to the market to address some of the COVID needs around personal care type products.

The other would be around the supply chain. You’re seeing over and over again, whether that’s Enterprise Tech, Consumer Tech, CPG clients, a lot of interest in driving better demand and supply forecasting, as well as driving greater efficiency, in their business models.

Another would be around the customer experience. So as more companies are having to go digital as a result of COVID, they’re placing a lot of investment in how to attract customers to their websites and therefore increase the spend across the customer groups and also making investments where maybe they we’re a little bit behind in terms of investment in their digital footprint there.

It would be safe to say that some of these new investments also enabled the new emerging business models and alternative channels of customer engagement. And surely, they will bring about a different set of challenges as well as some of the ones that you noted.

Sindhuja: So, can you discuss some of these themes very specific to business models and customer engagement as is in the new normal, as they say.

Laura: Yes, so let me think about that. Some of the newer business models, for example, are getting much more sophisticated. In terms of making the right offer, the right recommendations when customers are on their websites.

And part of that may seem you know, very straightforward because we experienced that many of us day to day in interacting with Amazon or Netflix or other very mature digital platforms, There many companies that do not have that level of sophistication around personalization and really a clear understanding of the customer and the entire customer journey.

So that can include everything, of course, from the experience they have on your website, but also, the support available. So, I may be, you know, leaning right now in thinking more to CPG type clients or experiences. But this also applies in social service clients as well. Well, so with customers being unable to go into their bank and maybe engage in, in typical banking activity, they have been forced to move to a more digital experience. Maybe they haven’t in the past paid bills online or made deposits online and due to COVID, they have had to adapt to that as well as, being able to take advantage of, you know, new financial service offers, for example, you know, maybe an increase on a card limit or a loan maybe that they thinking about.

But again, from the bank’s perspective, being able to offer up the right product at the right time using the right channel, whether that’s, you know, email on their website, texts or otherwise. So, it’s…you’re seeing investment in the customer experience across all industries.

Sindhuja: Okay. That’s a really interesting point of view. So that brings us to the other aspect of it, which is data and data has become more important than ever before. And we can see that AI is increasingly playing a pivotal role. So how do you see companies leveraging that?

Laura: Well, a couple of things. One is, is really getting, clarity around what data assets they have. Many companies are throwing off lots of data, but they’re, they’re housed in disparate systems and they’re at different levels of granularity. And the ability to bring all of that together and harmonize it is in and of itself a huge undertaking. And so, depending upon the company’s maturity, in terms of digitization, that’s the foundation, right?

Data. Where is it? What is it? How, what problems can it help us answer or solve for. And then next would be, are there data elements that are outside the company that you ought to be thinking about? For example, one of our very large CPG clients is working with us, in bringing in some of the COVID datasets. Leveraging that to make better decisions, relative to their supply chain. So if we’re seeing hotspots and certain parts of the country, the US or worldwide, what is that going to do in terms of demand for certain of their product types? So that’s just one small example of leveraging outside data sets and bringing it in and leveraging it to make the top lines, the revenue related, forecasting decisions, as well as.below the line, which would be, how do we manage the inputs to our supply chain?

Sindhuja: And, what is the common commotion from your clients? How are they coping in other ways, during these challenging times and what do you see as the road ahead for enterprises?

Laura: I think kind of two things. I mean, one, you know, companies are very cautious right now, in terms of do I want to make a big investment and spend so much, there are some companies that are deciding to, whole time and really manage closely, any additional expenditures. And then there are other companies I think that are definitely viewing this as an opportunity to perhaps grab market share, or even leapfrog some of their competition by making those investments in a better customer experience, really doubling down on their eCommerce channel there. So, they’re seeing the pandemic as maybe an opportunity to accelerate some of the initiatives that they know that are in their journey and their roadmap going forward.

But they’re realizing, you know what, we can’t keep kicking the can we need, and we’re seeing based on what’s happening, as a result of COVID, we’ve got to address these things more timely and be willing to be bold and make investments right now to take advantage of other companies that, or maybe choosing to be more conservative.

Sindhuja: I think that’s an excellent tie up to the way we talked about customer experience, and like focusing on initiatives that need some acceleration. Thank you so much for taking the time today.It’s been a pleasure talking to you.

Laura: Well, I enjoyed it. Look forward to coming back in, and joining BRIDGEi2i future podcasts. Thanks a lot, and have a great day.

Sindhuja: Thanks for listening to this episode of the AI to Impact podcast. I really enjoyed talking with Laura Mills, Senior VP heading business development in US region for BRIDGEi2i. If you found this interesting, do share it forward, especially as we continue the conversation with other experts and thought leaders.

Also do subscribe if you’d like to stay in the loop. Once again. Thank you so much for tuning in, in the meantime. Stay home, stay safe. Goodbye.

The upswing in AI adoption and the impact of Digital initiatives in enterprise transformation have reached staggering heights, but there is still a lot of skepticism around the value realization of AI. BRIDGEi2i, a transformation partner to several large enterprises, has been spearheading an enterprise-wide movement on “Making AI Real.” In this series, we bring together reputed thought leaders, practitioners, and influencers of the industry as they discuss trends, predictions, and best practices on extracting tangible value from AI to embark on transformational journeys.

Meet the Speaker


Laura Mills, SVP Sales & Region Head – US, BRIDGEi2i

Laura Mills is Senior VP Sales & Region Head – US, BRIDGEi2i. She has 30 years of public accounting experience across a broad range of functions, such as sales operations, tax client service, client satisfaction, business development, operations, recruitment, and talent management. She also has prior professional services experience with Grant Thornton LLP, Ernst & Young, and Arthur Andersen. Laura is an accomplished sales and marketing executive with experience leading global, national, and regional engagement teams in the Energy, Technology, Retail/Consumer products, and Transportation industries within global public accounting firms.