After our recent webinar, The Human Aspects of Implementing AI-Augmented Distribution, we’ve been getting a lot of questions around two very important topics:

  • What are the critical success factors to an AI augmented distribution program?
  • How extensive of a role does change management play in driving adoption among the sales force?

Our pharmaceutical colleagues recently published an interview with Deirdre Milici, head of Merck’s U.S. adaptive customer engagement strategy and Saby Mitra, principal and leader in ZS’s customer-centric marketing practice, that covers these topics. Since 2016, ZS has partnered with Merck, a top-10 global pharmaceutical company, to empower its sales force with actionable insights and suggestions for leveraging data science and AI. 


In the interview, Deirdre and Saby not only discuss success factors for AI and how change management plays a role, but also the opportunity that drove Merck down this path and the benefits realized by the organization. We’re sure financial services firms won’t have to squint to see the parallels with their own business.


Just like pharma, financial services firms are looking for ways to use data science and AI to deliver increased business value. For asset management, in particular, the distribution model often isn’t meeting customers’ needs: there are coverage gaps that make it ineffective, and distribution managers aren’t talking to customers in a way that matches their preferences, resulting in a decrease in productivity across the distribution system. AI can help address these needs, but to make sure it’s successful, financial services firms must think about how organizational change and change management can encourage the sales force to adopt it. In the interview, Deirdre recommends communicating the value proposition of your AI suggestion engine, including asking senior leaders to sponsor the program, developing a plan to communicate it across the organization and aligning it to company goals—and, importantly, helping salespeople understand how AI can help them meet their goals.


As she notes, at Merck, aligning the organization around the value proposition of AI is critical—so, too, should it be for financial services. In our webinar, we address how financial services firms can get started with an AI-driven distribution model, how organizational change factors in, and why, ultimately, a successful AI strategy starts with mapping all of your technology to a business goal and putting the customer first.