Crafting a Future with Technology and Data

Wednesday 26th of June 2024

As Customer Collective continues to pave the way in technology and data, we sit down with Emanuel Nuyts, Head of Technology & Data at Customer Collective, to explore his journey and insights into the evolving landscape of AI and digital transformation. 

Emanuel, thank you for joining us. Can you tell us about your background and journey to becoming the head of Technology & Data at Customer Collective? 

Emanuel Nuyts: Absolutely. My journey has been quite diverse. I studied economics and started my career at Deloitte, where I initially thought I’d stay for a short period but ended up spending 13 years. I worked at the intersection of business and IT, bridging the gap between the two. My work initially focused on SAP BI systems, which was more back-office oriented, but then I moved into strategy consulting with a focus on pricing. 

In 2010, I got the opportunity to dive into the digital world, and with a few colleagues, we launched Deloitte Digital in Belgium. This was during the mobile banking wave, and we saw rapid growth. We worked on front-end development, CRM, data, and marketing automation. We even hired the first employee with a tattoo—quite a milestone! (laughs) 

After some time, we realized that digital experience is too crucial to be entirely outsourced. It doesn’t belong strictly to marketing or IT. So, we developed a studio department offering to integrate these capabilities within organizations. In 2019, I joined The House of Marketing & Upthrust, combining all these experiences to focus on digital transformation projects within a context of sales, marketing and service. 

That’s quite a journey! How did your focus also integrate AI and data at Customer Collective?

At Customer Collective, we’ve been developing strategies around AI and integrating it across various entities within the group. Our approach is comprehensive, considering not just PhD-level data scientists but a broader spectrum of capabilities. We focus on how (Gen)AI can drive significant transformation on several aspects such content generation, and conversational UI. 

Conversational UI is particularly interesting because consumer behavior is changing. Many people, especially younger generations, now interact with models like GPT for everyday questions—from meal suggestions to shopping advice. Companies face increasing pressure to manage customer service costs, and conversational interfaces can help provide interactive, personalized responses instead of static website searches. People want answers, not just links. 

Can you give us an example of how you integrate these technologies for clients? 

Sure. One of our clients in the Diabetes industry, had an extensive FAQ section that we enhanced using conversational AI. For instance, when a customer asks, “My sensor keeps falling off; what should I do?” the AI can provide an accurate answer pulled directly from their website, while their own FAQ search was not able to do so. This interaction is faster and more personalized, improving customer satisfaction while reducing service costs. 

We demonstrated this to the higher management through video demos, showing how existing information could be catered more effectively towards users.  

By starting with short-term wins, we create long-term readiness for more advanced AI applications. 

We guide companies through the entire process, from initial strategy development to implementation. Our role is to help businesses understand where to focus their efforts, whether it’s technology, data architecture, or marketing automation. Emanuel Nuyts, Head of Technology & Data at Customer Collective 

That’s fascinating, but how do you ensure the quality and accuracy of AI-generated responses? 

It’s a mix of advanced technology and human oversight. Initially, the hit rate of correct answers was around 50%. By incorporating PhD-level expertise, we’ve improved this to 98%. We employ experienced designers to ensure the UI is intuitive and the tone of voice aligns with the brand’s identity. It’s about making the AI feel like a helpful colleague rather than a robotic interface. 

For example, we worked with a Healthcare client on a project called Eva, which focuses on providing health-related advice in a relatable, conversational manner. It’s vital that interactions feel personal and human, not just transactional and dry. 

What role does Customer Collective play in helping companies navigate this transformation? 

We guide companies through the entire process, from initial strategy development to implementation. Our role is to help businesses understand where to focus their efforts, whether it’s technology, data architecture, or marketing automation. We temporarily bring in external expertise to set up systems and processes and then support internal teams to maintain and grow these capabilities. 

Ultimately, it’s about combining the best of both worlds: leveraging internal knowledge and external innovation to create a cohesive, forward-thinking strategy. By doing this, we ensure that companies are not just keeping up with the pace of change but are also leading it. 

As you look to the future, what excites you most about the role of AI in business? 

The potential for AI to revolutionize how businesses operate is incredibly exciting. We’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible. AI can personalize customer experiences, streamline operations, and provide deep insights that drive strategic decisions. It’s not just about adding technology but fundamentally transforming how we approach business challenges. I’m excited to see how these advancements will continue to evolve and what new opportunities they will create. 

Managing partner Customer Collective | Technology & Data pillar lead

Emanuel Nuyts