IBM signs new agreement to apply blockchain technology to Lenovo customer service
This week, IBM signed a new agreement with Chinese computer manufacturer Lenovo. The company will provide blockchain-powered solutions to support customer experience at Lenovo’s Data Center Group, serving customers in over 200 countries.
According to IBM research, in excess of US$1trn is spent each year on 265 billion customer service calls industry-wide. The data also revealed that approximately 50% of customer service issues go unresolved, and that poor customer service is costing businesses over $75bn a year worldwide.
In an age where the standards of customer service experience have risen to a point where seamless integration across multiple platforms 24 hours a day, seven days a week is par for the course, leveraging new technology is a necessity for companies wishing to keep up with the market.
The new agreement, which builds on the IBM-Lenovo relationship that began in 2005, will see IBM's Virtual Assistant for Technical Support use its natural language capabilities and contextual recognition to personalize the conversation.
"The enterprise today is equipped with a host of new technology solutions built to offer customers unprecedented support and deliver a world-class customer experience," said Laura Laltrello, Vice President and General Manager, Lenovo Data Center Group. "We are looking forward to working with IBM to take the next step with our customers to deliver a personalized and seamless experience that ensures we continue to deliver industry leading customer satisfaction in data center support."
The new services will include:
Blockchain to help create a more secure and transparent environment to process and monitor the purchase and distribution of critical hardware and software equipment for Lenovo's data centers.
Virtual Assistant for Technical Support to use customer history and preferences, product manuals, technical documentation, and any other available information including FAQs, all within fingertip reach for call center agents.
Client Insight Portal to provide data analytics and trend analysis with enhanced personalization, on screen alerting to identify troubled areas, and automated root cause logic.
Augmented Reality to enable more than 19,000 field agents to help deliver a consistent client experience around the globe by allowing customers and technicians to share real-time video of machines requiring repair with fellow IBM professionals to help diagnose problems and illustrate the best practices to solve them.
"Data can have an unprecedented impact on the enterprise, and artificial intelligence can take customer service to a whole new level of personalization," said IBM General Manager of Technology Support and Services, Vivek Mahajan. "This global collaboration with Lenovo further strengthens our long-standing relationship and will help to empower technicians in every corner of the globe to help deliver service excellence using the power of Blockchain and Cognitive Computing."
How changing your company's software code can prevent bias
Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day.
Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization.
Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.
Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?
We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization
What impact can exclusive terms have on employees?
Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.
Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code
Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!
What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?
What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.
What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology?
My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve.