2017

CSS Corp wins NASSCOM’s digital skills award for 2017

CSS Corp, a global leader in providing IT Services and Technology Support solutions, has won NASSCOM’s prestigious  Skills Award for 2017. CSS Corp’s  Career Progression Framework, “Reimagine”, was chosen for its unique and innovative approach to employee up-skilling and cross-skilling in new age  technologies. The award was presented at NASSCOM’s flagship HR Summit, which was held in  on July 20th.

The “Reimagine” framework has been specifically built to fast-track employee re-skilling initiatives within the organization, in niche  technologies including Robotic Process  (RPA), AI, Analytics, Cloud, DevOps, and IoT. Additionally, the framework enables collaborative learning and greater personalization through Virtual University, MOOCs, online portals and learning communities. Reimagine promotes the democratization of learning and fosters a culture of innovation within the organization.

The  of Reimagine have been encouraging so far. It and has brought in significant increases in critical  aspects, including resource utilization, team productivity, employee learning and development, and increase in revenue per employee. The framework has also created more career and growth opportunities while resulting in an overall drop in attrition.

CSS Corp’s Reimagine framework is synchronized with  Innovation Labs that provide employees access and ample opportunities to build customer engagement solutions like Cognitive Customer Experience Platform, CSS Corp’s recent AI platform. The various training programs and certifications that are offered on the latest technologies enable employees to enhance their  dexterity, to thrive in today’s disruptive marketplace.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. R. Chandrashekhar, President, NASSCOM, said, “Workforce landscape in India has evolved significantly over the last decade and the key to success lies in identifying the right talent and then train them to enhance their skills and employability and therefore enhance industry’s competitiveness. I congratulate CSS Corp for their excellent work in this area. We are sure that the entire industry will devise ways and means to scale up the reskilling efforts.

Commenting on the recognition, Manish Tandon, CEO of CSS Corp said, “We are delighted to be recognized by  for our  up-skilling initiatives. This will enable us to offer the best of career and growth opportunities to our employees while building a nimble and agile organization. We are reorienting our service lines with new and disruptive offerings, and the Reimagine framework is one such step toward this process of change, adoption and growth. We are confident that our employees will tap into these opportunities to learn and adapt, and be the change agents who will deliver transformational  in today’s rapidly evolving technology environment.

Speaking on the occasion, David Raj, EVP & Chief HR Officer, CSS Corp said, “We are honored by this recognition by . It is a strong testimony to the underlying philosophy of CSS Corp’s adaptability, and our commitment towards building a close-knit, vibrant, and technologically advanced organization. The Reimagine career progression framework has been designed to provide the right guidance, opportunities, and encouragement to our employees to advance their careers.

Preview: Business Standard

Independent research firm names CSS Corp as ‘Strong Performer’ in customer analytics services

CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technology support company has been recognized as a “strong performer” in The Forrester Wave

CSS Corp is strongest for customer support. CSS Corp excels in delivering state-of-the-art customer support solutions to its clients. And since artificial intelligence is quickly transforming the world of customer support, CSS Corp is making considerable investments in AI. Its Innovation Lab, an internal team consisting of 50 designers, programmers, and AI and natural language processing (NLP) experts, is tasked with designing next-generation AI platforms for its clients. Cognitive Customer Experience Platform, CSS Corp’s virtual assistant platform enabling voice and text interactions for customer service, is one of the lab’s most recent innovations,” said Brandon Purcell- Senior Analyst serving Customer Insights professionals at Forrester Research.

CSS Corp’s indigenous customer analytics platform, “Active Insights”, is an end-to-end solution with extensive data ingestion, analytics, and reporting capabilities. The platform is powered with AI capabilities and advanced statistical models that drive customer lifecycle management to understand customers’ intent, issues and proactively hit the target with the right recommendations and remediation.

Active Insights platform connects to multiple data sources including structured, unstructured, semi-structured, social media and sensor data. It analyzes and predicts data in real-time, high velocity, low latency, and batch processing modes. Active Insights offers intelligent insights about customer sentiments, buying behaviors and satisfaction scores that drive business success.

We are delighted at being recognized as a “Strong Performer” in Customer Analytics Services by Forrester. At CSS Corp, AI and Analytics are at the heart of our business strategy. We are trying to break the stereotypes in the services industry through the adoption of new age digital technologies that are complementary in nature. Our customer analytics services act as a catalyst for growth by enabling companies across industries to transform from traditional business models to new age service models and helps them identify new revenue streams,” said Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp.

As businesses become more insights-driven, it becomes imperative for analytics vendors to deliver the real, measurable impact that makes a critical difference to clients’ businesses. We help companies simplify business processes, understand customer’s next best action and drive additional revenue. We provide insights into customer operations, propensities, and issues resulting in enhanced experience and new business opportunities. I believe that this recognition by Forrester marks yet another milestone in our journey towards becoming the partner of choice for global organizations,” added Sunil Mittal – EVP, Chief Sales, and Marketing Officer.

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Forrester includes CSS Corp in cloud migration services report

New report on ‘Vendor Landscape: Cloud Migration Services’ recognizes CSS Corp.’s cloud transformation capabilities

CSS Corp, a new age IT services and technology support company, has been included in the March 28, 2017 report by Forrester: “Vendor Landscape: Cloud Migration Services, which covers a robust market for services that has evolved to suit all preferences.
We think this analysis should benefit both customers and partners who increasingly need to choose cloud experts to partner with, in their journey ahead.
Forrester’s report provides a view of 30+ vendors and recognizes key players with advanced cloud expertise that help enterprises in seamless transitioning to the cloud. It talks about how high-profile companies have large scale plans for migration, and how important it is to choose the right service provider with the right set of capabilities.

Report author Bill Martorelli, Principal analyst at Forrester, writes: “CSS Corp, for example, is attempting to transform cloud migration from a project opportunity to continuous delivery with automated/assisted migration. CloudMAP is CSS Corp’s cloud migration, assessment, and planning methodology.

Manish Tandon, CEO, CSS Corp., said: “We are delighted at being recognized by Forrester for our capabilities in the cloud migration segment. Our cloud experts work extremely hard to provide world-class cloud migration and management solutions to our customers as they embark on their digital transformation journey. We work with several companies that are disruptors in their respective industries, and believe innovation is key to digital transformation.

CloudMAP is the latest innovative solution from CSS Corp’s indigenous Innovation Labs which act as an entry point for clients to access new age capabilities of the organization. CSS Corp has developed a complete suite of solutions to shift from a “program” to “continuous delivery” model for cloud adoption.

Key cloud solutions are:

CloudMAP – Automated cloud migration assessment and planning for a specific business process or enterprise workload. Reduces migration planning time by at least 40 percent.

CloudPATH – Simplified, industrialized and predictable method of migrating enterprise workload through re-factoring, re-platforming and live workload migration. Improves success rate of migration by 30-60 percent.
CloudDRIVE  – Operational readiness from day 1 in the cloud using Next-gen predictive operations and automation platform for continuous optimization. Saves cloud spend by 20-25 percent.
These industry-leading technology capabilities have resulted in accelerated digital transformation for CSS Corp’s clients. Enterprise customers who look for business application-focused migration are especially benefitted through CSS Corp’s continuous planning, industrialized migration and integrated operations.

Preview: Business World

IT Vendors gear up for the Digital transformation era!

“Digital is the new normal,” says Nishikant Nigam, EVP & Chief Delivery Officer, CSS Corp. “Digital is prompting organizations across industries to reimagine their customer engagement strategies for better business success and outcomes. To survive in this digital age, companies must view digital as an opportunity, rather than as a threat Instead of fearing away from digital transformation, embracing it will help one evolve. Companies must invest in advanced data analytics solutions that aggregates customer interaction data from various touchpoints, converts that into recognizable patterns and recommends actionable insights resulting in faster issue resolution”.

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CSS Corp opens second delivery centre in Bengaluru

IT service provider CSS Corp, announced the opening of its new global delivery centre in International Tech Park (ITPB), Bangalore to house the company’s growing Infrastructure Management and Tech Support Business.

We are delighted to announce the launch of our new delivery center in Bangalore. Our relationship with Interface Security Systems gave us the impetus to open this new delivery center and our engagement with them will be the first to go live here. This facility will have top-notch engineers and solutions experts delivering innovation to Infrastructure and Tech Support customers.” said Manish Tandon, CSS Corp’s Chief Executive Officer.

With the opening of the new delivery centre, CSS Corp has five delivery centers in India – three in Chennai and two in Bangalore.

CSS Corp and Interface recently partnered to create and deliver an next generation managed IP based technology enabled solutions for networking, security and other enhanced IP Managed Services to selected Interface customers.

Manish further added, “We are strategically expanding our facilities in India to meet the growing needs of our customers and to attract the skilled, diversified and talented workforce available in this region.

Michael McLeod, President of Interface Security Systems said, “Interface is uniquely qualified to be the one source for providing a bundle of IP Managed Services that simplify customer engagements and our partnership with CSS Corp strengthens and broadens our managed service capabilities”.

The 34,000 square feet new delivery center features 320 workstations and CSS Corp will be further expanding the facility with net addition of 12,000 square feet and 200 workstations.
Preview: Economic Times

CSS open to IPO or strategic buyer, says CEO Manish Tandon

We can either do an IPO or if there is interest from a strategic buyer giving us good valuation, we are okay with it,” said Manish Tandon, CEO, CSS Corp, a $140-million technology company owned by Swiss PE firm Partners Group, on the company’s growth plans for the next three years.

In 2013, Partners Group acquired a majority stake in CSS in a $270-million transaction, and now owns 92 percent stake; the rest is held by employees, Tandon told Business Line. CSS has around 5,500 employees globally with nearly 3,950 of them in India, he said.

All PE-owned firms need to have an exit path. Some PE invested companies go through an IPO or are acquired by strategic buyers or bought over by other PE firms. Each fund raises capital for a defined time frame. They work in the private market and need to exit because they need liquidity. CSS’ case will be either an IPO or sale to the strategic buyer, he said.

If revenue crosses $200 million (about ₹1,400 crore), CSS can do an IPO, which will be mostly in India or any other capital market that gives more value, he said. For fiscal ending March 2018, the company will end with revenue of around $155 million, said Tandon.

Tandon said the company is in talks to acquire a fairly large company compared to CSS and expects to announce the deal in February or March, he said without giving further information.

Tandon said when he joined CSS a year ago there was too much focus on technical support, which was a business that was getting commoditized and without any growth prospect. The company’s strength was working with top global technology companies, including Alcatel-Lucent and Unilever.

Bets on digital

The company decided to limit its focus on technology, media and telecom sectors, and on e-commerce and digital businesses of brick & mortar companies with the focus on end customers. “We have moved from a pure services company to a new age services company by creating a platform and ecosystem for new digital world. We expect demand for digital services to be there for next 15 years,” he said.

Tandon said for a client making Wi-Fi routers, CSS used to provide technical support for end customers but today offers premium support where CSS bears the cost and shares revenue with the client.

For example, if a customer of the router company calls, CSS checks if the customer is interested in buying technology support for the entire home. Based on this, CSS sells and services that plan for which it takes 80 percent revenue and gives the customer 20 percent. It is a profit for the router company, he said.

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How AI is Shaping Organizations?

Indian companies and start-ups are focusing on developing conversational bots, speech recognition tools, intelligent digital assistants and conversational services to be built over social media channels

Artificial Intelligence will undoubtedly reshape the business, making our lives easier and more sufficient. AI is seen as an indispensable tool for supporting humans in every aspect of life. In the future, it will be the driving force for the Industrial revolution mainly driven by data, networks and computing power.

The two fundamental pillars of digital transformation for any organization- “Speed” and “Customer Centric Innovation” which are on the top of CXOs’ minds. Every enterprise is dealing with two basic questions, “How fast can you innovate?” and “Can you innovate fast enough?” That said we see two broad technology trends answering the aforementioned questions emerging across the board, “Cloud Native” and “AI”. On one hand, enterprises who are in the experimentation and migration stages of cloud adoption have realized that the benefits of cloud go well beyond apex optimization to the acceleration of contextual innovation. And on the other hand, we see widespread adoption of NLP and cognitive computing to provide augmented/assistive intelligence and personalized experiences to customers. With Millennial in focus for most enterprises, delivering personalization has become important now more than ever. CXOs expect AI and specifically deep learning to pave the path to achieve such targeted personalization” said Anup Nair, VP, and CTO, Mphasis Digital.

Challenges In Application Of AI 
There are significant needs to automate the M2M or machine to human interactions to enable failure prevention. The biggest challenges in this area are changing the individual mindset and attract the right talent.

Sindhu Joseph, CEO, and Co-Founder, Cognicor said “From the perspective of applying AI, one of the key challenges is about the gradual rollout process that needs to be adopted for businesses. As systems need time to optimally learn user behavior and build patterns out of the same, it is better if it becomes a gradual rollout.

According to Kartik Iyengar, SVP-IoT, Cognitive, Robotics, VirusaPolaris, the potential of AI extends far beyond helping a given business run faster or more efficiently. Along they will bring disruptive changes and give rise to new problems that can challenge the economic, legal and ethical fabric of our societies. Some of them are:

Jobs: Traditionally, automation has been eating away blue collar jobs for decades and huge leaps in AI have accelerated this process whilst propagating it to other sectors/domains as well. It is true that AI revolution will create plenty of new skilled jobs but the problem is, for the most part, the people who are losing their jobs don’t have the skill sets to fill the vacant positions.

Responsibility: When the boundaries of responsibility are blurred between the user, developer and data trainer, every party involved can lay the blame on someone else in case of software or hardware malfunctions. This can become an issue when AU algorithms start making critical decisions. New regulations must be put in place to clearly predict and address legal issues that will surround AI in the near future.

Privacy: In the hunt of more and more data, companies may trek into the unmapped territory and cross privacy boundaries. Implementation of AI and ML can impersonate people by imitating their handwriting, voice, conversation style and unprecedented power that can come in handy in a number of dark scenarios.

Prakash Mallya, Managing Director, Sales and Marketing Group India, Intel said “Currently, the lack of insights to drive deep learning systems is a major challenge as vast amounts of data collected are not transmitted to systems. Data collected further needs to be analyzed to make effective decisions based on algorithms, and we must work together as an industry and as a society to help achieve the ultimate potential. The Indian data market is growing rapidly with the central government’s push for digitization which means increasing opportunities for using AI in the country.

How AI Helps Organizations?

Most AI applications are designed with a narrow focus so they perform some fairly complex tasks like scheduling business meetings and answering common customer requests. Automation helps productivity in teams, identifying the right use-cases and automating them helps organizations to reduce the effort spent on supporting applications and infrastructures.

Rohan Angrish, CTO of Capital Float said, “We use AI internally to allocate work within our company and also use it to make suggestions regarding loan decisions. Certain loan application processes are driven end-to-end by machines and disburse in as little as 90 seconds from the time of first signing on to our system.

In 2017, our company built Cognitive Customer Experience Platform, a ‘Cotelligent’ Platform where human and machine intelligence converges to provide a sophisticated, automated solution. Cognitive Customer Experience Platform integrates with all customer channels like voice, email, chat, and website across devices, giving a consistent customer experience. It is designed to offer personalized and context-driven support, with a human-like interaction. It aims to resolve a customer’s needs at first interaction by using NLP, AI, machine learning and deep learning techniques,” said Vasudevan Sundarababu, Digital Services Head, CSS Corp.

The scope of AI in the Indian Market

AI-based applications today have already touched people’s lives in ways that are often not fully speculated. Until now, this subtle proliferation of AI technology was driven largely by the private sector and focused primarily on consumer goods.

Indian companies and start-ups are focusing on developing conversational bots, speech recognition tools, intelligent digital assistants and conversational services to be built over social media channels which are purely driven by the need in Indian market unlike driverless cars and others in U.S. market,” said Badrinarayanan Jagannathan, Vice President IT Applications Management, Juniper Networks IEC.

He further added, “Embracing automation is a necessity in the current environment. It plays a key role in enabling productivity, improve customer service and enable businesses to grow more agile. This will trigger a new wave of growth in generating newer jobs. The key for individuals is their ability to be flexible and re-skill to develop and succeed.

Ritesh Gandotra as Director – Global Document Outsourcing, Xerox India said, “AI will eventually replace many routine functions of the IT organization, particularly on the operations side, such as in system administration, help desk, project management, and application support. With advances in artificial intelligence technology, machines will successfully emulate human cognition.

What Talents Companies Are Hiring?

AI revolution is creating plenty of new data science, machine learning, engineering and IT job positions to develop and maintain the AI systems and software. “Unfortunately, the supply is not that great and the real focus should be on upskilling and cross-skilling our existing workforce. The battle for top AI talent only gets tougher from here. At VirtusaPolaris, we tie up with universities and engage them in CoE (Center of Excellence) program to get the right data science consultants and AI engineers.” said Iyengar.

Another company, Cognicor is mostly looking at engineers and mathematicians specialized in AI, computational linguistics and knowledge management sciences. “We are looking at hiring some of the premium talents in the country and train them with latest commercial exposure to AI sciences. Getting access to the research opportunities in the latest AI has been a great incentive for attracting some of the best talents in this area,” said Sindhu Joseph.

Preview: Data Quest

Chennai’s IT services company CSS Corp to acquire US-based firm

City-based IT services firm CSS Corp plans to acquire a US company to expand customer base, CSS Corp’s CEO Manish Tandon told Express on Tuesday, adding that the deal would be closed in about six months.

We have been looking to acquire assets, especially engineering services, and now we are working on a fairly large acquisition of a US-based firm,” said Tandon. The firm has added 20 new clients taking up its base to 140 this year.

Emphasising the company is looking for talent, Tandon said it will focus on with telecom, media and technology sectors and digital business of traditional brick-and-mortar companies.

At a time when the BPO industry has reported the alarming impact of automation on jobs, Tandon claimed attrition at his company is “significantly less” thanks to its innovation-led strategy, which has “never put employees at risk due to the change in technology”. The company has a head-count of 5,600 technology professionals in 16 of its global centers across the world.

We have created a programme of virtual University for our employees, which aims to deliver internet-based training and we have also placed huge bets in newer technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning to support our customers,” Tandon said.

The IT company recently launched an artificial intelligence platform, Cognitive CX Platform, to support customers.

 “The strategy has been to stick to profitable growth through active discussions with customers regarding their requirements and provide end-to-end services,” he noted.

The firm has clocked a topline growth rate of three per cent in the past three quarters and it eyes 4 per cent sequential growth in the next quarter. “With this pace, we are expecting a 15 per cent revenue growth year-on-year,” Tandon added.

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CSS Corp unveils Cognitive Customer Experience Platform

In a bid to up the ante on customer experience, US-headquartered CSS Corp has launched the Cognitive Customer Experience Platform, an artificial intelligence (AI)-driven platform. Cognitive Customer Experience Platform integrates with all customer channels like voice, email, chat, and website across devices.

“Cognitive Customer Experience Platform is designed to offer personalized and context-driven support, with a human-like interaction. It aims at resolving your customer’s needs at first interaction by using natural language processing (NLP), AI, machine learning and deep learning techniques,” said Vasudevan Sundarababu, vice-president, digital, CSS Corp.

As consumers use multiple channels to voice concerns or seek customer support, offering an omnichannel support experience has become imperative for corporates. A study by consulting giant McKinsey found that for companies that excel with digital customer care, customer satisfaction can go up by 33%, while generating savings of 25-30%, due to reduced call center volumes.

The AI platform can constantly learn from a customer’s interactions and build on its knowledge base.

 “The virtual assistant understands your customers’ intent and responds to their queries in real time. Cognitive Customer Experience Platform remembers facts, learns from previous conversations and can access online information by integrating with enterprise systems,” he said.

A SaaS-based solution, Cognitive Customer Experience Platform can be used as a standalone support interface or as a platform integrated with Amazon Echo, Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, and Google Now.

With delivery centers across the globe, the company has deeply invested in digital and analytics. CSS Corp’s digital practice has 45 customers totally, which primarily handles analytics, mobile, AI, application modernization, machine learning, and virtual assistance.
Preview: Times of India

Conversational AI: Driving The Next Generation Customer Experience

Artificial Intelligence or AI is driving organizations across industries to reimagine their customer engagement strategies for better business success and outcomes. Sunil Mittal, EVP & Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, CSS Corp, explains to CXOToday how we are moving towards a conversational economy where a few spoken words can accomplish a business transaction.

CXOToday: Artificial Intelligence is a huge topic. What are some of the areas that you find are most exciting and have an immense opportunity in the near term?

Sunil Mittal: Demand for personalized consumer experiences across different industries is fueling the explosion of AI. Just as electricity transformed almost everything 100 years ago, today we have a hard time thinking of an industry that I don’t think AI will transform in the next several years. We are moving towards a conversational economy where the voice is the new frontier. A few spoken words to a smart virtual assistant can help accomplish a seemingly complex business transaction. As AI technology matures, forward-thinking businesses are plugging in conversational AI in their strategic investment roadmaps to leverage it for their customer service function.

Today, voice assistants and social messaging have given birth to the intelligent experience economy and made the customer experience more conversational than transactional. For example, you can ask Apple’s voice assistant – Siri – to get you weather updates, find out and help you buy specific movies, play your favorite songs and a gamut of other specific activities. Amazon’s Alexa can help you perform several tasks for you like booking a doctor’s appointment; sports scores and game times; important event dates, hear the latest news; tracking traffic; manage calendars, to-do list and shopping list, set alarms and timers; read Kindle books and play audio books; make purchases; control smart home devices, etc.

Also, the new trend has given rise to Conversational commerce that refers to real-time customer communication through different messaging applications and chatbots. These platforms empower businesses to generate a sense of need for their products to potential customers, they also act as personal shopping assistants to customers. Many B2C businesses are using conversational intelligence with bots as a platform for offering customer support.  We offer tech support services with this new conversational model that would field customers’ questions and help get more real-time access to resolutions. This boosts overall business efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

At CSS Corp, we have embarked on a new journey in AI to disrupt the customer experience ecosystem with a new model called “Conversational” that aims at simplifying and personalizing customer engagements through AI based Voice platforms. We offer AI-based solutions that enable customers to have powerful, impactful conversations with brands and helps them with insights and a new radical vision to solve a challenge. Our focus and investments in AI are helping enterprises adopt the right customer engagement and support strategy and help move from traditional models to new age service models that help them identify new revenue streams.

CXOToday: Gartner Says AI Technologies will be in almost every new software product by 2020. How are businesses using AI? What are some of the transformational benefits from AI?

Sunil Mittal: The human and AI relationship is evolving fast and making forecasts in today’s dynamic world. AI-fueled automation and predictive models have augmented human intelligence and helped many businesses drive revenue through predictability capabilities. Regardless of their customer base and business model, organizations in B2B and B2C are adopting AI capabilities that help to predict customer/system behavior, drive revenue and bring businesses closer to their customers and also streamline the operations thereby ramping up the productivity and flexibility through its adoption.

From a B2B environment, AI boosts predictive maintenance that allows for better prediction and avoidance of machine failure in industrial sectors. This, in turn, increases asset productivity and cuts down maintenance costs considerably. For instance, for a railroad and locomotive company, CSS Corp has deployed our AI based solution for predictive intelligence capabilities to pre-empt equipment failures, optimize daily operations and field resources. We constantly monitor customer’s sensor-based IoT devices and enable ideal failure prediction analysis with the use of real-time intelligence, image data analysis, acoustics data analysis, and operational intelligence.

From a B2C environment, AI is transforming the customer service space today with Virtual Customer Assistant (VCA). As per Gartner, VCAs yield phenomenal results like a 70% reduction in call and/or email inquiries, increased customer satisfaction, and a 33% saving per voice engagement. Organizations are positioning AI-powered VCAs at the center of their customer engagement strategy. CSS Corp has built Cognitive CX Platform an intelligent Virtual Assistant platform that aims at bringing together various technologies like AI, automation, and analytics with pre-built vertical assets, 360-degree customer context, intelligent process guidance, and actionable insights that enhance customer interactions.

CXOToday: What suggestions do you have for CEOs, CIOs, and other CXOs who have just started exploring the implications of AI for their business?

Sunil Mittal: Today’s digitally empowered, adventurous and experimental customer is the fundamental driver of all the business and technological changes. CEOs, CIOs and CXOs are facing some basic but tough questions and to what extent they need to go to:

(a)   Get closer to the customer

(b)   Deliver the simplest customer experiences to diverse customer segments across multiple products

In 2017, many new CIOs and CXOs have been facing a “deer in the headlights” moment since the subject of AI is so vast that they feel clueless as to where and how to start with AI. That it is a powerful and disruptive technology is a no-brainer but CIOs and CXOs need to collaborate with CEOs closely to make them understand the clear business case for AI and not take an immediate headlong plunge into the AI stream immediately.

Eventually, AI will be ubiquitous. The technology landscape is inundated with choices – from machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) to Chatbots and recommendation engines. But the moot question is, are all businesses yet ready to adopt it? The CIOs and CXOs new to AI revolution must work out the business strategy part first and how it would get augmented if blended with AI. They must evaluate on how a good investment in machine learning will add a competitive edge to their product/service and whether adding AI to the business strategy will help in inching closer towards the customer with good service.  They must try to understand if it will boost employees’ productivity, simplify customer experience and help them make better purchase decisions and monetize the business.

CXOToday: Given how quickly AI is rising, and skills shortage becoming a big issue, what suggestions do you have for filling in this gap?

Sunil Mittal: The benefits of the new age technology like AI are irresistible; however, this is hemmed in by lack of qualified talent to exploit it to its full potential.  According to a survey by Tech Pro Research, only 28% of companies have some experience with AI or machine learning, and over 40% said their enterprise lack the skills required to implement and support AI and machine learning. In our opinion, it’s been a long time now that the industry has been fretting over the topics of “skill gap”. It becomes more pertinent in the age of AI. Though AI is increasingly acing the number of roles and tasks, we’re still a long time away from human jobs completely fading away from the scene. We can bridge this yawning skill gap by helping our workforce adapt to the jobs of the future through education. And, both the corporate and the governments need to participate and invest equally in imparting technical learning.

AI can also be used to fix this skill gap as it can provide personalized help to learners and identify successful teaching patterns. We, at CSS Corp, have developed a Digital Career Progression Framework called “Reimagine” which has been specifically built to fast-track employee reskilling initiatives within the organization. Our framework facilitates an innovative approach to employee up-skilling and cross-skilling in new age digital technologies. Nearly 30%- 40% of mid-level managers at CSS Corp are engaged in reskilling through this initiative, in niche digital technologies including AI, autonomics, augmented reality (AR), cloud, IoT, deep learning, and cognitive computing. The framework brings in greater personalization in employee learning, wherein employees can learn anytime, anywhere, and on any device through Virtual University, Massive open online course (MOOCs) and JAM (a collaborative tool). It has also created more career and growth opportunities for employees while seeing an overall drop in attrition. We recently won the NASSCOM Digital Skills 2017 award for having one of the best digital reskilling platforms in the Indian IT industry.

CXOToday: What are the top capabilities that are important in an AI solution that drives customer adoption?

Sunil Mittal: AI is proving to be one of the fastest-growing technology segments in 2017, and is being rapidly adopted by organizations, big or small. However, the top three capabilities in an AI solution that drive customer adoption are 1. Does the AI solution have good predictive capabilities? AI solutions are self-learning systems. Banks and financial institutions are widely using AI solutions based on machine learning models to detect credit frauds by analyzing customer’s past spending patterns and predict the transactions that the customer is likely to make and flag unusual activity if any. If we talk at the consumer level, Google Now is a great example of a self-learning application. This personal assistant tracks its user’s activities and interactions to collate and put together relevant information for the user on the smartphone. This application constantly improves based on the feedback it keeps getting from the user and its own learning algorithm.

2.  Is it enterprise class? AI solution must fit in seamlessly, non-intrusively into the technology environment of the business. It must be a traceable solution that can undergo complete auditability. The AI solution must be fast, flexible, extensible and responsive. It should be able to adapt quickly to the changes. The AI solution under consideration must be able to address all the concerns of an enterprise such as growth, cost, compliance, and responsiveness. It should be able to bring in automation of high variability processes and legacy modernization into the business and tech environment, and trigger operational efficiency, which in turn will boost productivity and consequently drive revenue.

3. Does it offer a smooth customer experience? A good AI solution acts like a great customer service channel that provides a customer experience in which customers feel the same comfort interacting with a machine as they feel with a human. The solution must understand the content as well as the context of the customer’s feedback, questions or requests. Never-sleeping chatbots offer cost-effective, powerful customer support and never make the customers wait to get their problems resolved. The AI solution must be able to collect customer data from support interactions and analyze the same to offer personalized customer experience.

CXOToday: According to you what are the top three barriers of AI Adoption in an enterprise set up in India?

Sunil Mittal: As AI accelerates up the hype cycle, its adoption in an enterprise set up in India is still relatively low. We see the following top 3 barriers of AI adoption in India:

1.  Lack of differentiation: With an increasing number of startups entering the AI space, enterprises are finding it tough to differentiate between one AI solution and another. With hundreds of AI vendors in the industry today claiming to be providing best-in-class AI solutions, enterprises are immensely confused about the true and clear AI capabilities of these vendors and what business problems these solutions will solve for them.

2. The disconnect between the current curriculum and the work skills in demand: Success of an AI engagement depends on the people that program the systems and the data being fed. Identifying and sourcing the right people and skill set from the market for AI engagements is key to any AI engagement. AI projects require people with specialized skill-sets who can apply AI techniques across business processes in real time. The synergy between the current sequential education system and the work demands in the enterprise set seems to be missing. For India to maximally benefit from the AI revolution, the challenge of talent shortage looming large on the industry needs to be addressed faster. Many Indian firms are grappling to scale resources for the new AI challenge. The lack of adequate AI talent to meet the growing demands is a matter of huge concern in India.

3. Unpredictability and uncertainty of resources required: AI systems can behave unpredictably. A badly implemented AI system can lead to objectionable consequences, including a privacy breach. Companies must carefully evaluate the business processes and system for AI adoption and take into consideration legal, regulatory and ethical implications.

Understanding the cost, time and effort involved to get an AI-powered system up and running is one of the most important factors that enterprises should think while building or evaluating AI solutions. Based on the maturity level of processes, the accuracy of data sets and knowledge base, the success of AI engagements varies between months to several years

Enterprises face challenges during AI adoption in identifying the right use cases, data sets, and business processes and while mapping it with customer benefits in terms of revenue, convenience and experience

CXOToday:  What’s CSS Corp ’s future roadmap on AI?

Sunil Mittal: CSS Corp has built two AI Platforms in the last 12 months: 1) Cognitive CX Platform to manage customer support engagements and 2) Contelli to simplify and modernize IT Operations. Our AI platforms understand behavioral aspects and relationships between customer, business processes and systems. Our solutions provide end-to-end customer clustering and deeper insights into customer sentiments, buying behavior and satisfaction-levels, to drive business success.

Despite the hype, adoption, and investments in newer technologies like AI, enterprises are finding it challenging to manage IT operations and customer support operations as they mostly carry baggage of legacy systems, infrastructure and software stacks that are aging. This significantly contributes to the complex support landscape, making life extremely painful for customers. We understood, perfecting customer support operations requires rigorous planning, focused technology investments, strategic roadmap, and execution, as it is linked to the overall productivity and efficiency of an organization.

Our AI solution enables enterprises in managing their complex IT and Customer support operations and introduces relevant frameworks, providing enterprises agility, speed and flexibility. AI is at the epicenter of all our customer engagement programs. Today as we speak we are integrating AI as a part of all our new age platforms and we will continue to encourage our customers to embrace AI solutions. We’re committed to our mission of embedding intelligence across different functions of the enterprises and help each of them innovate, grow and compete.

In this context, CSS Corp has invested significantly in AI and has plans to scale up our solutions that can help companies understand their customer’s next best action and drive additional revenue. We will continue to focus on customer support engagements and as well build AI solutions to solve unique business challenges in TMT, Healthcare, and Manufacturing.

Forrester recently recognized our AI capabilities in their Forrester Wave for Customer Analytics, we recently won the Stevie Silver Award for our AI Platform, Cognitive CX Platform. Most importantly our existing customers and prospects have shown utmost interest and enthusiasm to implement our AI solutions. Our customers feel that our technology is far superior as compared to any AI solution offered by other leading players in the IT Industry.

All of us at CSS Corp is excited to explore new frontiers with AI that harnesses the power of customer centricity and build an ecosystem that fuels unprecedented growth and innovation for our customers.

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