Interview with Chief Operating Officer at CanadaDirect: The Role of AI in Digital Transformation

In preparation for the CAMSS Québec conference taking place on March 14 at the Ritz-Carlton Montréal, we caught up with Hadi Tchekiken, Chief Operating Officer at CanadaDirect and speaker at the event to discuss the role artificial intelligence is playing in digital transformation.

At the CAMSS Québec conference on March 14th at the Ritz-Carlton Montréal, you will be facilitating a session on the role of artificial intelligence in digital transformation. AI is certainly a key focus area for many organizations in both the public and private sector. Can you start by giving us some insight into how CanadaDirect is currently or planning to harness the power of AI?

Some of the priorities that we have at a strategic level are to implement artificial intelligence (AI) to improve marketing operational efficiency and deliver improved value to our clients.

CanadaDirect is currently implementing Machine Learning (ML) algorithms for customer segmentation to predict which customers are likely to respond positively to an offer and therefore maximize conversion rates and minimize direct marketing costs. To improve this decision support system and add to it some degree of personalization, our plan is to explore other ML algorithms such as unsupervised algorithms, and leverage data enhancement techniques and behavioral data. Overall, AI and specifically deep learning will be systematically used in our marketing efforts to understand, analyse and anticipate consumer needs and expectations, and act faster to develop smarter marketing campaigns.

Another initiative is the use of AI to optimize customer retention to achieve long-term growth. Managing retention has been one of our biggest challenges and it is in our plans to leverage AI to predict customer who are likely to churn and take proactive marketing measures to prevent it. Achieving this goal will have a major positive impact on the acquisition costs, adoption of our products/services and our competitive strength. 

Finally, one of the key initiatives is the implementation of AI (Natural Language Understanding) features to our computer agent assistant solution to provide stronger customer experience and further reduce costs per acquisition. This has the potential to free agents from certain repetitive calls and as a result, allow them to better handle conversations and improve the overall productivity. Those are some of the high AI priorities.

What challenges have you encountered or do you expect to experience along the way?

Like many organizations, one of the challenges we are encountering and expect to experience along the way is the lack of experienced and qualified workforce. Until now, we have successfully trained some resources, but we realize that AI projects require a broader expertise and dedication. I think that outsourcing some aspects of the AI development can be a way of overcoming some of the staffing challenges. The other challenges have to do with data management and understanding practically how artificial intelligence can help our company become more efficient and agile, save costs and drive digital transformation.

For those struggling to understand how to best utilize AI in their own organizations, where should they be looking to start?

I think the first thing they should be looking to start is the high-level understanding of AI, specifically its use cases and how its applied in their industry to solve business issues and create business value. They should then define and execute a meaningful but not too ambitious pilot project to gain practical experience, realize the potential of AI for their business and determine next steps. This can be achieved through a combination of internal and external efforts using open source and/or commercial AI technologies.

How important of a role to you see AI playing in companies of all sizes in both the near and far future?

AI is crucial for the company’s success and it will increasingly play a critical role. Today and in the near future, AI will play a role in boosting productivity by automating complex processes, creating business value and providing support for decision making by identifying insights and trends in data. As for the far future, I can only say that I think AI will be everywhere and most probably new industries will be created.

Following the session at the CAMSS Québec conference, what do you ultimately want the attendees to be able to take away from the discussion?

Aside from learning from attendees’ perspectives on the current and future role of AI in their companies, I would ultimately want them to take away additional ideas and information to better lead digital transformation with artificial intelligence.

Hadi Tchekiken will be speaking at the forthcoming CAMSS Québec conference on March 14 at the Ritz-Carlton Montréal. For information on the event and to register go towww.camsscanada.com/quebec-spring