Humanising Technology: The human element of AI-software development

Humanising Technology: The human element of AI-software development

John Yang, Vice President, Asia Pacific and Japan, Progress, says the proliferation of digital experiences and the rise of AI shouldn’t switch focus from the human side of software.

John Yang, Vice President, Asia Pacific and Japan, Progress

In recent years, the digital revolution shifted into high gear, accelerated by the pandemic’s unprecedented demands. Traditional face-to-face interactions swiftly moved to digital platforms; a shift driven out of necessity. Schools, workplaces and social interactions quickly moved online. For example, the rise in telehealth in Australia enabled healthcare providers to offer services virtually, helping Australians access essential care during lockdowns.

The shift to digital-first interactions proved to be a mixed bag – working well for some services and less so for others.

Yet, this new era of digitisation persisted post-pandemic, raising the bar for all digital experiences.

User expectations and requirements have increased, pressing the need for more seamless, intuitive digital platforms across the board. In fact, Australian consumers display a high probability of switching brands if dissatisfied with their digital commerce experience, with recent research highlighting 53% of Australians would be open to switching to another brand.

Putting all of these into context, digital experiences today must mimic the best of human interaction – they need to be highly personalised and feel human even when automated, consistent across all digital touchpoints, responsive and accessible.

Simultaneously, we are witnessing a different kind of disruption in the technology space that is bringing about transformational change in how organisations build their products, bring them to market and operate their businesses – and this disruption is giving organisations new tools to help them deliver the digital experiences their customers need.

The increasing adoption of tools such as ChatGPT is democratising the use of Generative AI, especially in the workplace. According to new research by Microsoft Corp. and LinkedIn, 83% of knowledge workers in the Asia Pacific region use AI at work, with respondents saying it helps them save time, focus on their most important work, be more creative and enjoy their work more.

No longer a theoretical topic, AI is also empowering organisations to meet users’ digital expectations by enabling personalisation on a massive scale, faster time to market through content generation, automated workflows for operational efficiencies, automated code generation, and much more. And we are still in the early stages of understanding what is possible.

It is counterintuitive to think that a technology like AI – which is devoid of human emotion – could play a central role in enabling a human-centric digital experience.

Yet, even in its early stages, AI is already making a significant impact. AI can enhance your understanding of customer behaviour and their interactions with your organisation or brand. It can be used to detect preferences and propensities to convert, automatically create user segmentation, personalised content for any number of user segments in record time, detect and deliver content in local language, and enable you to respond faster to your customers by automating tasks previously involving not just manual effort but human synthesis of information. And those are just a few of the uses.

AI can also play a key role in creating more inclusive and accessible experiences. Imagine a user with a hearing impairment who can now actively engage with your digital experience by using AI to translate written or spoken language automatically to sign language? Or a person with a visual impairment who can take advantage of computer vision and have your application describe in real time what is shown in a picture. As accessibility requirements today are governed by regulatory agencies and mandated by law in countries around the world, having the ability to integrate accessibility more easily into your digital experience with the help of AI is a huge benefit.

All of these things – personalising journeys and ensuring your digital experience is accessible and inclusive are all crucial elements for crafting a human-centric digital experience.

According to a study on human-centric software commissioned by Progress, the top two drivers for a focus on human-centric software in Australian organisations are: ever changing user needs/increased expectations (62%) and a rapid increase in digital interactions (54%).

Other drivers are an increased focus on inclusion and accessibility in the virtual world (44%) the influx of Gen Z workers looking for employers who align with their personal values (44%) increased pervasiveness of IoT and Ai (36%) and a broader company focus on diversity and inclusion (34%)

A majority (64%) of the surveyed Australian IT leaders and developers said that building human-centric software is more important now than it was two years ago. Over half (54%) of respondents said the impact of investing in human-centric software was a necessity and/or will have a major and material impact on their business.

Furthermore, 62% of Australian respondents said they believe building human-centric applications will increase customer appeal, have a positive impact on revenue (46%) and become a competitive advantage (42%.)

Globally, 44% of the respondents of the Progress study said they are already addressing this new requirement through tools, training and policy – but agree there’s more to be done.

We are at a crossroads in our industry where the art and science of human behaviour and technology are merging in a powerful, exciting and transformational way. With the proliferation of digital experiences and the rise of AI, we will continue to see a strong focus on the human side of software.

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