Wishing some of our US-based clients a happy Thanksgiving last week felt frankly a little disingenuous. Of course, the reality is that there are always things to be thankful for, but 2020 hasn’t exactly delivered the usual longlist to choose from. It’s an understatement to say that many people have experienced hardship this year like never before.


The same could be said for most businesses too. Unless you happen to be a company like Zoom, Amazon or Netflix, it’s been a year of unprecedented challenge and chaos. And yet (bear with me here), I genuinely believe that it’s that same chaos that has made 2020 the most important year for global business yet...

If I travelled back to December 2019, gathered a room full of CEOs and CTO’s (no social distancing required) and told them that 2020 was going to be a year where they could roll-out true digital transformation across their businesses, without the usual push back, they’d be incredulous. And yet, that’s exactly the opportunity that 2020 has afforded: digital transformation and the optimisation of businesses for a digital world.

Let me be clear, this has come at great cost - 2020 has been a true annus horribilis. However, the COVID crisis has also necessitated fundamental structural change that many leaders in the business world have been trying to bring about for decades. Typically, internal change and digital disruption is expensive and presents great logistical challenges. This year however, it’s been compulsory - the only viable path for many businesses to survive and adapt to the situation. As a result, the fast forward button has been pressed and digital transformation that would have taken many companies years to bring about, has happened in just a matter of months.

The nature of that digital transformation looks different from business to business, of course. For some firms, 2020 has been a matter of survival. For others, the current environment has allowed them to exploit new opportunities for growth and customer acquisition. The tools, software and products look different for each business too. For some, adopting Slack and Zoom-based working has been change enough. Others have adopted a much deeper and more radical approach. However, a key component of much of the digital transformation that has taken place this year has been automation.

PagerDuty CEO, Jennifer Tejada, summed it up perfectly in her recent interview with SaaStr: “You automate or eliminate anything that can create capacity for the stuff that matters.” Her point was that to survive, stabilise and even accelerate business in a cash constrained world, automating certain processes has allowed companies to do more, in many cases with less resources available to them. Adopting automation has become critical.

That certainly continues to be at the very heart of our mission at Proxima. We want to empower businesses to achieve revenue gains, cost reductions and improved customer satisfaction, by automating intelligent, real-time customer conversations. Whether conversational marketing, lead qualification, virtual assistant, customer support, or disruption messaging, providing our customers with the tools to deliver full-service automation and conversational AI, means we are helping them “create capacity for the stuff that matters.”

In an environment where resources are constrained and challenged, every hour really counts. Implementing Iris, our conversational AI platform, across customer channels saves a single agent 28 hours for every 1,000 customer service and sales enquiries. That’s 28 hours spent working on other activities integral to the survival of the business.

Automation isn’t just about helping businesses survive however, it’s about helping them truly thrive. Our platform is also enabling companies to grow revenues too, by responding to prospective customers instantly. Commonly known as "The Five Minute Rule", responding to leads in under 5 minutes means they are 100 times more likely to connect and 21 times more likely to qualify. Automating aspects of the sales process is enabling companies to reach and land more customers.

These are just a few of the ways that we are helping our own customers to meet the challenges of 2020 head-on and grow from positions of real strength. The reality is that there are countless ways in which other automation and forms of digital transformation are empowering businesses around the world to do the same.

We should in no way minimise the immense difficulties that many companies continue to face, but a year of unprecedented challenge and chaos has accelerated digital transformation like never before. We might not have wanted or chosen the means, but the end result is that the vast majority of companies are now better equipped and optimised for long-term success in a digital world. And it’s that silver lining that is set to make 2020 the most transformative, significant and important year for global business in history.


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