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UK firms pivot to AI as permacrisis prompts vital digital adaptations
Fri, 24th Nov 2023

8x8, a foremost integrated cloud contact centre and unified communications platform provider, has launched a report pointing out that 78% of UK IT decision makers are envisaging using AI and Automation to future-proof their business during the ongoing uncertainty. The report, titled "Permacrisis: The View from the IT Frontline", gives an insight into how UK companies are coping with the present permacrisis, a term used to describe a lasting period of instability.

The study surveys the effect the permacrisis has had on UK businesses and looks into the ways they've leveraged technology to face it. A staggering 91% of the surveyed businesses felt the impact of the permacrisis to a certain degree. Furthermore, 94% have made technological modifications aimed at lessening crisis fatigue and preparing for the future. Of these, 76% are utilising AI and automation technology to enhance customer services.

Almost every organisation has plans to rely on communication systems to negotiate instability and uncertainty. Planned applications range from automating processes (51%), to managing staff performance (47%), and predicting customer and employee trends (44%).

The report reveals companies are coping with the ongoing permacrisis, defined as an enduring time of instability and insecurity, by leaning on AI and automation. Undertaken in March 2023, the report surveyed over 550 IT decision makers of UK businesses with over 500 employees. It scrutinises the effects of operating under abnormal conditions and the techniques and technology businesses are using to navigate this landscape.

An overwhelming 91% of respondents have felt the pinch of the permacrisis, and two-thirds confess that broader issues are driving their organisation's digital transformation plans. Merely 9% of respondents stated that their colleagues do not appear to be overwhelmed by the chronic events. There is agreement across multiple industries, including education, health, and retail, that factors like inflation, Brexit, and the Covid-19 pandemic had the most significant influence in recent years.

Signifying a shift from the previous decade's uncertainty, over 94% of IT decision makers reported that their organisation is implementing technology changes to reduce crisis fatigue and be future-ready. This is accomplished by leveraging customer engagement and communication systems which allow them to manage ongoing instability and uncertainty. AI and automation, considered crucial during this period, are used to streamline workflows, minimise routine manual work, and enhance customer and employee satisfaction. In fact, 76% agree that such technology is being used to serve customers better.

Chris Angus, VP, EMEA Contact Centre Engagement at 8x8, expresses the extent to which businesses constantly need to adapt to massive amounts of change due to various crises. He goes on to add that digital technology has been a critical factor in enabling organisations to adjust and display resilience. With companies possessing more data and increased demand for real-time insights, AI uses are expanding beyond customer engagement and being deployed for more efficient businesses and to provide improved services and offerings.

Patrick Watson, Head of Research, Cavell Group, commented on the disruptive potential of AI technology, stating that it has reached an accelerated growth phase in several areas, including understanding language. This presents both challenges and opportunities for all sectors, with AI-infused technology expected to influence a majority of them over the next few years.

Looking to the future, practically all organisations plan to use communication systems to negotiate instability and uncertainty. The planned utilisation cases include automating processes (51%), managing staff performance (47%), and predicting customer and employee trends (44%). In a crisis scenario, 40% consider virtual agents/chatbots to be the most effective call handling equipment. Meanwhile, auto attendants (19%) and voicemail (22%) are seen as the least useful call handling tools.