ESI Team

Supercharging Enterprise Operations with AI

May 8, 2024
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On the 40th episode of Enterprise Software Innovators, hosts Evan Reiser (Abnormal Security) and Saam Motamedi (Greylock Partners) talk with Vishal Gupta, Global CTO & CIO of Lexmark. With over 9,000 employees in 170 countries, Lexmark is a global technology company specializing in printing solutions and cloud-enabled IoT imaging technology. In this conversation, Vishal shares insights into how Lexmark uses AI for predictive maintenance and an optimized customer experience, the revolutionary potential of enterprise AI adoption, and how IT leaders navigate the opportunities and challenges of emerging technologies.

In an era of rapid technological advancements, enterprises must continually innovate to stay competitive. Lexmark has been at the frontier of innovation for much of its existence and has recently focused on integrating AI to improve predictive maintenance and customer experience. Vishal explains how this technology plays a crucial role: "Our printers have these IoT sensors, about a hundred IoT sensors per printer... we're able to stream the data and use the AI to extend their life." By leveraging AI, Lexmark improves the reliability and lifespan of its printers—extending their typical operational life from four to seven years—but also significantly reduces environmental impact and operational costs. This strategy highlights Lexmark's commitment to sustainability and customer satisfaction, setting new industry standards for product longevity and efficiency and showcasing the true power of new technology.

More broadly, Vishal also highlights the rapid adoption rates of AI compared to previous historical, technological innovations: "If you think of ChatGPT, a hundred million users took two months," a stark contrast to the decades it took for cars and cell phones to reach similar milestones. Vishal predicts that AI will soon be as ubiquitous in business operations as the internet or cloud computing, suggesting that AI's integration into business is inevitable and will significantly enhance productivity and innovation across industries. Currently, Vishal oversees Lexmark's utilization of AI to streamline and improve customer interactions, particularly in automating responses to Request for Proposals (RFPs). Vishal details this process: "What if we train generative AI using the ones we want? That way, we could generate good answers to the new RFPs that come…we think that will create almost 5 million dollars in incremental benefit a year because we used to turn down a lot of RFPs if we didn't have two weeks to respond because that's the time the team needed to do a quality job." This innovative use of AI boosts the quality and efficiency of Lexmark's responses and significantly increases the company's ability to secure new contracts. By embedding AI across business processes, Lexmark has automated and optimized numerous tasks, leading to substantial cost savings and enhanced service delivery. Vishal notes that the use of AI in customer service has cut the average handling time for customer inquiries in half, demonstrating AI's role in enhancing productivity and customer satisfaction.

For enterprise leaders, the process of adopting emerging technologies presents both significant opportunities and formidable challenges. Vishal discusses Lexmark's proactive strategy in navigating this landscape, mainly through their focus on talent development and data architecture. He notes the importance of upskilling their workforce to adapt to new technologies: "Instead of hiring a hundred [data scientists], can we train our existing talent to become data scientists?" This approach focuses on enhancing their technical capabilities and fosters a culture of continuous learning and adaptation within the company. Lexmark's investment in robust data infrastructure also supports its AI-driven initiatives, enabling advanced data management and analytics that drive decision-making and strategic planning. "I think generative AI will enable that use of information to create that advantage for folks, so the friction in the world goes down very significantly." 

Vishal's insights underline the transformative impact of AI on Lexmark's enterprise operations. From extending hardware lifecycles through predictive maintenance to enhancing customer interactions and boosting operational efficiency, AI is at the forefront of driving innovation. As businesses continue to evolve with the technological landscape, Lexmark's proactive adoption of AI sets a benchmark for industry peers. Vishal's forward-looking perspective provides a compelling vision of a future where AI is a foundational component of competitive enterprise strategy.

Listen to Vishal's episode here and read the transcript here.