2018

Telecom industry being redefined with advent of AI, automation and analytics

As telecom industry is gearing up for the interplay between AI, automation and analytics to drive businesses and new revenue streams, it becomes crucial to have a look at the digital technologies that are changing the landscape for telcos

As telecom industry is gearing up for the interplay between AI, automation and analytics to drive businesses and new revenue streams, it becomes crucial to have a look at the digital technologies that are changing the landscape for the telcos. In an interaction with ET’s Tina Gurnaney, Nishikant Nigam, EVP & Chief Delivery Officer at CSS CORP discusses AI’s role among other technologies in revolutionizing telecom networks.

What role are AI, analytics and automation playing in revolutionizing telecom networks?

The rapid transition to digital has changed the world including telcos. Traditional voice and text businesses are declining as the data business grows exponentially. The competition has broadened to include new kinds of companies. Also, the customers’ expectations are very different. Organizations need to renovate, innovate and evolve much faster than ever before to stay relevant.

AI, analytics and automation are powerful technologies in that quest, we call them “lever technologies”. These technologies, especially when used together, have a similar effect.

Just like the lever, these technologies are a means to an end, not an end by themselves. They not only enable more efficiency and optimization but also open up new possibilities in the telcos’ strategies that just weren’t there in the past. But really embracing these tools allows telcos to catapult into new frontiers – implementing high-density urban 5G deployments, predicting system failures and prompting preventive action, and humanizing customer service chatbots.

Can AI help telcos in creating new revenue streams?

Absolutely. This industry, like many others, is being redefined. The traditional services and competitors are being challenged by companies from other industries who are “blurring the lines” on what it means to be a telco. Similarly, telcos are able to cross over into adjacent or tangentially related industries. The companies who can do that successfully are ones that provide a superior customer experience. It gives companies the brand permissions they need to branch out into new areas and build new revenue models.

What are the trends we’re seeing in the telecom space with regards to AI?

We are really in the golden age of the consumer, and telecom companies are using more and more AI to give customers more choices and personalized services than ever before. This continued evolution in consumer demand, coupled with proliferated smartphone usage, will continue to drive fundamental changes in the way consumers react to services and have taken the consumer-brand collaboration to the whole new level. Tools like conversational interfaces are on the rise. The blend of voice recognition, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence can understand not only the user’s words but their intent and context which help telecos to establish customer trust. Telecom companies are also using AI to drive efficiencies and better manage increasingly complex operations, systems, and networks.

What can be telcos’ digital strategy going forward?

Legacy digital strategies focused more on running digital as an isolated area of the business, with a dedicated “digital team”. Newer strategies recognize that the majority of customers’ interactions will occur through digital channels, so they can be used as a way to create value throughout the customer’s journey. Hence digital plays on the front office side as a means to enhance revenue, provide better customer experience and value for customers, which is critical given customer’s high expectations and lower switching costs.

Some of the key strategies that telecom organizations can use to embrace the ever-changing digital technologies include predictive analytics for customer behavior and journey mapping, self-help and DIY, innovative pricing models, robotic process automation (RPA), omni-channel support and mobile based customer support. These strategies can help to improve customers’ experience and solve problems of the telecom industry through multimedia and online support; helping businesses to build customer relationships, customer loyalty and increase revenues.

How can AI help in automating the networks?

With the growing use of cloud and the rise of the Internet of Things, not to mention consumer data, the networks need to handle higher volumes of data than ever before, making automation an imperative for better network planning and connectivity. AI helps networks to identify the best course of actions, to build self- healing capabilities, and to emulate human-like behavior of adapting.

How can AI help with smooth integration of technologies including virtualization, SDN-NFV, orchestration?

Software-defined networks (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) are major advances in the industry, creating more agile and flexible communications infrastructure – but to be useful we must be able to manage them efficiently. They must be highly reliable and scalable, easily set up, with efficient ways to monitoring, maintain, and repair them. AI is uniquely suited to analyzing large volumes of information, extracting information and identifying insights – even more than traditional analytics – because it can learn from itself. So with a technology that’s still emerging, the AI-based systems that manage them can learn along with them. We don’t have to constantly reprogram or recalibrate. These systems can take on provisioning of SDN for network managers, for instance, or virtualization of NFV to realize an on-demand dynamic network configuration.

Are there any telcos in India working on AI related solutions?

Yes, absolutely. Most of the major telcos have adopted the AI wave and are working on related solutions. For example, Vodafone launched its chatbot in 2017, named TOBi. It’s a virtual service agent powered by AI through IBM Watson and integrated with Facebook Messenger. It helps customers seeking answers to basic questions over web chat. Many others are working on similar projects or not far behind.

Are there any projections you can share for the same?

You can expect to read about more AI-based projects in the next 12-18 months as AI becomes truly an integral part of telecommunications industry.

One of the successful use cases could be managing customer support operations and IT operations in the telecom industry where AI enables convergence of human and machine intelligence. This results in improved business agility, operational excellence, and resilience, and brings about better customer experience. The ability to respond instantaneously and accurately to customers’ questions and helping them in decision making processes have made AI an integral part of telecom customer experience ecosystem.

What role are analytics, intelligent automation playing in revolutionizing telecom networks?

These technologies have created a lot of changes to telecom operators. The advent of 5G is likely to lead to high-density urban deployments, which would create multitudes of patterns that’d be practically impossible for humans to manage but would be easily handled by self-learning AI. AI is also likely to impact the telecom industry in areas like traffic classification, anomaly detection, network optimization and orchestration. The ways to use AI in networks are still emerging but these are some that have a lot of focus now.

What revenue streams can telcos explore while leveraging emerging technologies?

Cross-platform consumption of media and content is one area that is opening up further growth opportunities for telcos with AI-led solutions. Once companies have competencies with implementing and using AI, the revenue possibilities are very broad. Specific opportunities depend on each company’s strengths and opportunities. The other option is for the telcos to also co-innovate with niche service providers that bring these emerging technologies across a variety of use cases to the table.

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Artificial Intelligence: The Fourth Industrial Revolution

Artificial Intelligence is revolutionizing the present scenario in the world. AI has the potential to drive a car, determine the nationality of a person through his handwriting, detect machine breakdown on listening to its sound and can produce 20,000 lines of copy in a second.

All in all, it will alter our day-to-day lives. As pointed out by CEO of Google – Sundar Pichai that artificial intelligence can become more vital than fire or electricity.

On the other hand, billionaire investor Ray Dalio remarked that it is a “two-edged sword.” It is boosting the productivity but eliminating jobs, which in the run will create gaps between wealth and opportunity.

From here we need to understand is AI just a robotic apocalypse or the fourth industrial revolution.

AI: Fourth Industrial Revolution or Robotic Apocalypse?
Artificial Intelligence is one of the key rising technology breakthroughs because it can transform the world in exceptional ways. AI and robotics can change the way businesses function and advance efficiencies and cost.

Arti Pande, Lead Consultant at ThoughtWorks said that putting it in simple words, AI will aid enterprises to make better decisions because intelligent tools will augment human capability with increased efficiency, precision and creativity. Arti further stated, “The critical argument is that the fourth industrial revolution will not cause unemployment but will evolve the quality and types of jobs. Humans will re-skill and equip themselves with new capabilities, compatible with an AI-powered workplace”.

As quoted by Professor Klaus Schwab in ‘The Fourth Industrial Revolution’, we are living in a world where technology is influencing the way we live, connect with systems, access information, leverage services, and relate with each other socially. And when used judiciously, this new technology – AI – will certainly boost productivity, operational efficiency and customer experience in enterprises, and can provide a platform for digital reach in societies. AI can be prevented from turning into a robotic apocalypse by putting adequate regulations, governance and sense of responsibilities in place, said Dr. Kiran Marri, VP- Solutions, Digital Engineering & Testing Services at CSS Corp.

Mahesh Nayak, SAP Labs India holds that with AI becoming increasingly ingrained into our lives, it offers a lot of promise, but can also be a double-edged sword. Gartner in a report says that by 2020, artificial intelligence will create 2.3 million jobs whilst eliminating 1.8 million. But, everything about AI so far has been about helping human minds to work better, not theirs. We can simulate perception, reasoning, planning, learning, creativity but at the end of the day this is pure simulation on our terms.

Thus, artificial intelligence is definitely the fourth industrial revolution, rather than a robotic apocalypse. It is faster, efficient and more widely accessible. Moreover, a plethora of opportunities has been ushered in, as AI can now handle complex tasks including Object detection, Speech and Face recognition, etc. We may expect AI to be increasingly capable of performing complex tasks, especially in areas of application with massive data sets, believes George Mundassery, Tech Mahindra.

 

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CSS Corp opens 2nd facility in PHL

TECH support firm CSS Corp. has opened its second delivery center in Metro Manila as part of its continued expansion in the country.

In a statement, CSS Corp. said it plans to hire over 400 employees for the new facility, located in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), within the next six to eight months. The jobs will be for technical support, help desk, customer support and account management.

“Philippines continues to emerge as an outsourcing hot spot for global players, given its strong understanding of customers in US and EU, coupled with the surge in digital-savvy talent and technical skills,” Manish Tandon, CSS Corp. chief executive officer, said in the statement.

The 24,218-square feet facility will feature “state-of-the-art” workspaces, two training centers, technical labs, collaboration rooms and recreational areas including a 24-hour cafeteria, karaoke and billiard rooms.

“The Philippines, with its ease of doing business, burgeoning tech talent, and exceptional language skills, has become a favored destination for support capabilities, especially with the rise in cognitive technologies. Coupled with strong labor policies and government incentives, the country brings tremendous potential for growth in the near future,” Arvind Kingsly Appavu, country head and assistant vice-president — Philippines at CSS Corp., said.

CSS Corp. opened its first center in Manila in 2009. The new BGC facility will bring the company’s presence in Asia to eight.

Last year, CSS Corp. opened a development center in Costa Rica and Bengaluru, India.

CSS Corp. is a new age information technology and technology support service provider that utilizes various technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation, analytics and cloud, among others. — Janina C. Lim

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Intelligent Automation Systems: The Birth of a New Era

By Phanikishore Burre, Vice President & Global Head – Cloud, Infrastructure & Security Services, CSS Corp

Intelligent automation is the use of artificial intelligence technologies (including natural language processing, machine learning, and other technologies) to automate tasks otherwise performed by humans, including both physical tasks and decision making. They may range from the regular to the disruptive: from simply collecting, analyzing, and making decisions based on available information, to guiding robots and driverless vehicles.

Intelligent automation (IA) system differ significantly from traditional automation in their ability to constantly evolve and learn. IA systems sense and synthesize huge amounts of information and develop insights about the processes they are performing. They can use these insights to predict the outcomes of potential actions, such as changes made to the underlying enterprise infrastructure or application updates to business processes.

There are numerous examples of the commercial use of intelligent automation. Credit card processing systems can identify and block fraudulent transactions. Marketing systems can make offers to clients depending on the analyses of their profile and market demands. E-discovery systems that can identify document meaning for litigation purposes.

Demand for Intelligent Automation

The range of business problems to which intelligent automation can be applied is expanding as advanced technologies improve and become usable by non-specialists. Demand continues to be driven by:

• Tight Labor Markets:A shortage of workers in sectors like retail, customer support, manufacturing, and insurance have led companies to seek out alternatives. By automating routine tasks, available human resources are freed up.

• Exponential Growth of Data and Information: On an average, human knowledge is doubling every 13 months. IBM estimates that the build out of the Internet of Things will lead to the doubling of information every 12 hours. IA, like power tools, enables knowledge workers—from plant supervisors to investment analysts to physicians—to process, understand, and effectively use huge volumes of information.

• Prebuild IA Solutions: Software firms, technology firms, and private equity are all betting big on all things AI. One result is the growth of industry-specific IA solutions and IA-as-a-service. These pre-built tools decrease costs, mitigate risks, and increase ease-of-use. From tech companies like EdTech Foundry’s chatbots that assist students in higher education to software firms like Lytic’s IA-based personalized marketing solutions for healthcare companies, niche IA solutions are being developed for every conceivable use.

Use of Intelligent Automation to Automate Decision Making
A potent use of IA involves automation of analysis and decision making. The complete workflow often includes humans for reviewing and approving decisions made by machines but removing most of the analysis work can produce better decisions more efficiently.

Tech manufacturers use IA for monitoring customer infrastructure and application for risks and enabling service agility. IA can extract key metrics from IT operations, and dynamically set thresholds and drive operational excellence.

In the public sector, a network of sensors, cameras, and data feeds linked to an AI-powered system can automatically flag images for a human analyst watching for potential threats. Londonhas deployed a large citywide network of video cameras and leverages intelligent technologies for identifying crime suspects.

Automation of Physical Tasks through Collaborative Robots
The new generation of intelligent robots can perform much more sophisticated physical tasks than their traditional counterparts and can even learn from human coworkers.

Kiva Systems’ famous “mobile-robotic fulfillment system” automates retail distribution centers for organizations. Robots travel around a distribution center to automatically transport shelving units loaded with products to workers who are preparing customer orders for shipment. Amazon acquired Kiva Systems last year for nearly $800 million.

Volkswagen implemented “collaborative robots” in an engine production plant in Germany that work side by side with humans. Volkswagen’s motivation for implementing the robot was to prevent “long-term burdens” on its employees by having machines take over tasks that are “ergonomically unfavorable.”

Given the breakneck pace of automation technology, there is no tried and true path for organizations to follow. It will not be a natural act, and will require effort from each one of us. But that should not stop today’s leaders. To benefit from intelligent automation, organizations need to ensure that their teams are fully equipped to take the advantage of the changes that lie ahead. It also means investing in innovation and new skills, and creating an environment of experimentation, opportunity and growth. But first, it requires a shift to a digital mindset and culture where the relationship between people and machines can fulfill its potential as essential co-workers for the digital age.

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Reimagining Consumer Experience for Telcos in the Era of Hyper-Convergence

Implementations of human-AI collaborations are being devised to maximize customer interactions.

The telecom industry is at the forefront of enabling best-in-class customer experiences. With large-scale changes in market environments and increased executive push towards digitisation, telcos are exploring new business models to create and capture value. The digital customer needs to be delighted and operators are leveraging new levels of personalisation at a scale never imagined before.Telecom firms are now analysing real-time customer data through smart algorithms to deliver personalised experiences concurrently to millions of customers. These experiences are seamlessly integrated into every customer touch point using AI, predictive analytics, and real-time feedback loops.With the dawn of the digital world, customers expect the experiences to have the following attributes:

• Context-aware: In today’s always-on connected world, customers demand agile experiences because of their changing needs and demands, telecom providers are expected to quickly adopt data-driven insights to map customer needs, know their interaction patterns, and engage with them by anticipating their requirements.

• Service extensions: To enable services like digitised wallets, media services, and custom utilities operators ought to be partnering with third-party service providers for broadening customer reach and relationships. Telcos are expected to be multi-service providers and develop platform driven solutions to ensure demonstrable advantages for the customer.

• Service centricity: Compelling value delivered through in-time quality service can be a key lever to be factored while designing customer retention strategies. Customers are also willing to get empowered with the tools and know-how to resolve service issues. Users are also expecting personal data confidentiality and wish to have complete control over it.

The need is clear. The industry has to transform its ways of interacting with the customers since they are expecting the same level of digital experiences given by other industry sectors.

 

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CSS Corp wins gold at 10th Annual 2018 Golden Bridge Awards

CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technology support company, today announced that its cognitive assistant platform Cognitive CX Platform has been awarded Gold at the 10th Annual 2018 Golden Bridge Awards. The award will be presented in San Francisco on Monday, October 29, 2018, during the red-carpet ceremony.

CSS Corp has built Cognitive CX Platform to help brands reorient their customer experience approach through an outcome-based model. The company enables organizations to adopt contextual digital strategies and proposes solutions that automate interactions, amplify customer service agents and simplify their operations.

CSS Corp’s Cognitive CX Platform ties four crucial components of customer lifecycle management:
1. Customer experience enhancement
2. Digital journey orchestration
3. Revenue generation
4. Outcome-based delivery

The company is investing significantly in its Cognitive CX Platform platform to help businesses anticipate and resolve customer issues at scale and at manageable costs. The company recently released the enterprise version of the Cognitive CX Platform that focuses on streamlining and modernizing enterprise support operations.

“Brands that master personalization and bring deep, intuitive customer experiences through smarter technology will thrive in the digital future. CSS Corp’s deep capabilities in digital, coupled with our obsessive focus on customer centricity has helped us to offer unique expertise to our clientele and aid in their transformation journeys,” said Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp.

“This recognition is another milestone in our innovation journey, as we continue to explore new frontiers in creating cognitive solutions for tomorrow’s business problems,” he further added.

Sunil Mittal, EVP & Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, CSS Corp said, “Our digital-focused strategy and innovation roadmap has helped us to develop intuitive solutions that identify new revenue opportunities and power growth for our customers. Our cognitive platform Cognitive CX Platform is born out of this approach, and since its launch, Cognitive CX Platform has helped us to explore greater personalization in CX, for our clients.”

“We are honored to be recognized by Golden Bridge Awards, and we will continue to push new boundaries in customer excellence through cutting-edge innovation and intelligent technology,” he further added.

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Ways in which telecom companies drive competitive advantage using AI

Digitization has shifted the competitive boundaries in this sector with voice and messaging businesses experiencing a downward spiral due to the frantic use of social media channels as a medium of communication.

The telecom industry has undergone a radical transformation in the last few years.

Digital and new age technologies have also presented a plethora of opportunities for telecom companies to rebuild their market positions, and re-engineer their existing business processes and products to delight customers. Adopting newer technologies can create strong competitive advantage for telecom companies, while improving customer engagement.

With increasing unpredictability in the market, magnitude of the competition and ever-changing customer expectations, organizations need to renovate, innovate and evolve much faster than the market to stay relevant. Several leading industry influencers, analysts and futurists have reaffirmed that AI can help an organization endure the storm of changes in the ecosystem.

Just as electricity transformed almost everything 100 years ago, today we have a hard time thinking of an industry that we don’t think AI will transform in the next several years.

Powering the Experience Economy with AI

Demand for personalized customer experiences across different industries is fueling the AI boom. McKinsey projects that telecom, high tech, and financial services are the leading early adopters of machine learning and AI to gain competitive and internal process efficiencies.

Forward-thinking telecom companies are increasingly plugging in conversational artificial intelligence in their strategic investment roadmaps to leverage it for customer service functions. Regardless of wherever you fall in the AI spectrum, the fact that speaks volumes is that we’re foraying into a key transformative cycle across most industries.

Artificial intelligence is poised to unleash the next wave of disruption in telecom. The advent of artificial intelligence, sharing economies, advanced automation and modern currencies are likely to disrupt the face of the telecom business landscape.

The next few years are expected to be the golden age of the consumer, who’d have more control and choices than ever before. This continued evolution in consumer demand, coupled with proliferated smartphone usage, will continue to drive fundamental changes in the way consumers react to services and have taken the consumer-brand collaboration to the whole new level.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) & The Telecom Industry

The telecom industry is increasingly adopting AI, primarily triggered by the enterprise requirements to drive viable efficiencies and consumer demand for contextualization. It helps telecom operators in assessing the offer conversion rates and content usage trends. AI also plays a critical role in subscriber profiling that helps in extending custom offers to subscribers based on their specific needs, at the right time.

AI can help incredibly in the support department of telecom companies by detecting the problem and take actions autonomously within the policy framework. It can also predict system failure and prompt the remedial actions to combat the situation. With 5G network, high-density urban deployments would be needed, which will generate many patterns that would not be possible for humans to manage, but which AI can.

Why does Telecom need AI now?

Disruptive technologies such as IoT have created a number of endpoints for the telecom operators. The Advent of 5G is likely to lead to high-density urban deployments, which would create multitudes of patterns that’d be practically impossible for humans to manage but a task made easy by self-learning AI.

AI is likely to impact the telecom industry across a wide range of areas such as:

  • Traffic classification
  • Anomaly detection
  • Resource utilization
  • Network optimization
  • Network orchestration
  • Humanizing telecom customer service through AI-powered chatbots
  • Creating personalized and adaptive customer journeys

Betting on AI to lead the expectations game in telecom customer support

AI can deliver a certain level of responsiveness that isn’t humanly possible. A Forrester report on Customer Service Trends discusses the concept of pre-emptive customer service. The telecom sector companies have now started to tap the power of intelligent virtual agents to supplement their static self-service content with conversational interfaces. Proactive support, self-service, call deflections are now standard. This proactive customer experience offers telecom companies with a competitive advantage in the form of increased productivity and efficiency gains and will solve most of the issues related to customer care, network coverage, billing, service/product offering and many more. Personalization of service and care would witness a new benchmark. Integration of omni-channels and knowledge sources helps a great deal in this transformation. It’s a win-win situation for telecom companies and customers, alike.

AI to play a key role in automating the telecom networks

IDC has predicted that 31.5% of the telecommunication organizations are mainly focusing to utilize current infrastructure and 63.5% are making new technology investments for AI systems. The Counterpoint Research indicates that the AI application in mobile networks covers three applications – Self Optimizing Networks (SONs), Software Defined Networks (SDN), Network Function Virtualization (NFV) and enablement of neural networks. SONs are likely to be the first to arrive and these would enable the operators to automatically optimize the network quality that’s based on traffic information by region and time zone, powered by different machine learning algorithms.

Conclusion

The telecom industry, by virtue of its scale and continued growth, is a perfect playfield for highly sophisticated Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation technologies. Leveraging this disruptive technology, telecom companies can dramatically cut down their operating costs, while improving their quality and speed of services and resultant customer experience. Machines have already started reading the network content that determines how to route the network traffic. The next frontier would be self-optimizing networks that are based on the existing conditions, pre-set goals and limits. However, we are just at the beginning. The telecom industry is poised to see even bigger changes, driven by AI, with the ultimate goal of delighting the customers.

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Contextualization is the new personalization: Sunil Mittal, CSS Corp

By Srikanth RP – Editor, Express Computer

The IT services ecosystem is changing rapidly with automation being the norm than the exception. In this era of digital disruption, every IT services firm is reinventing itself to adapt itself to the new era. Sunil Mittal, EVP, and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, CSS Corp, tells EC, on how his firm is integrating capabilities of AI, machine learning and deep learning to predict network related issues and proactively manage complex ecosystems effortlessly

 

How has your firm adapted to the digital era where automation has become the norm?

Today’s digital age has enabled increased collaboration within the business ecosystem. Businesses are focused on creating a larger ecosystem by building synergistic relationships with partners, suppliers, and vendors to drive better accountability and deliver seamless customer experience.

Let’s take an example of the telecom industry that impacts end-consumers, enterprises, and industries. Telcos of the 90s largely operated in silos. With the advent of digital, today telcos have created an integrated ecosystem that involves various stakeholders like news agencies, content aggregators, payment gateways, over the top (OTT) media services and record labels. This model significantly increases service consumption and average revenue per customer (ARPC) through a single platform.

Organizations are rethinking their customer value chain to adapt to the new realities and demands in a collaborative business model. In this context, lever technologies like AI and automation play a larger role in driving predictability, faster time-to-market and new revenue models. So, today automation is not a technology decision but a business decision.

Also, businesses are re-looking into ways to engage with millennial customers, bringing in greater personalization, and embracing digital to manage customer expectations and growth. Today, the success of any transformative initiative in organizations across industries is largely dependent on the contextual applicability of digital and automation in business processes. Generalized adoption of automation does not yield business outcomes.

At CSS Corp, we strongly believe contextualization is the new personalization and that’s our way forward. Reimagining customer engagements through contextualization are the core of CSS Corp’s services vision. AI-based automation is an integral part of our service delivery organization supporting global customers in various strategic and modernization initiatives.

CSS Corp’s intelligent automation framework brings together two different platforms that drives modularity and nimbleness to meet the evolving customer expectations: Contelli (Intelligent automation for IT operations (automation of back-office operations in cloud, data centers, telecom networks and security) and Cognitive Customer Experience Platform, which is a smart agent solution (front-office solution for customer support, customer interactions and customer analytics))

Our approach in intelligent automation solutions for business and IT operations are largely based on customers’ business critical metrics and more closely aligned with factors impacting business outcomes. Our automation strategy did not develop out of labor arbitrage but rather as a driver to deliver superior customer experience, provide instant gratification and delight customers.

In that last 18 months, we have invested heavily in our ‘Innovation Labs’. CSS Corp’s Innovation Labs act as an entry point for clients to access the new age capabilities that augment customers’ existing capabilities, find solutions to crucial business problems, and drive new growth streams.

Today it’s a 70-member team with expertise in various technologies like TensorFlow, big data, BigTable, Hadoop. Across our teams, you will find UX designers, extreme programmers, big data engineers, AI & NLP experts, data scientists and as well as professionals from diverse fields like linguists, behavioral researchers, and domain specialists. We expect to double the capacity in the next 12 months.

 

Can you give us specific examples where Artificial Intelligence has made a big impact on the services deployed?

We live in very exciting times. The AI debate is intensifying. There is a constant commentary on it from some of the finest thought leaders of our times. Some are for it with gusto and some asking for caution. One thing is certain that advances in AI have accelerated in recent times like no other in the past few decades. Artificial intelligence is pushing the envelope on what machines are capable of doing in all facets of life. It is very clear that AI will become much more pervasive and intertwined in our day to day life. It will change the way we live in fundamental ways.

AI is the ultimate frontier in technology. Organizations are investing significantly in AI and it will continue to happen with AI becoming more of an edge than an enabler for businesses. However, we often see organizations struggle to effectively leverage and implement AI capabilities to drive customer experience, efficiency, and productivity improvements. It is about finding the right use-case and reimagine it with AI support.

One of the successful use cases could be the customer support industry where AI based virtual agents enable the convergence of human and machine intelligence. This results in improved business agility, operational excellence, and resilience, and brings about better customer experience. According to Gartner, non-voice interactions in customer support are likely to rise from 55% in 2015 to 85% by 2020. Virtual agents offer personalized and context-driven support, with a human-like interaction. The ability to respond instantaneously and accurately to customers’ questions and helping them in decision-making processes has made AI an integral part of brands’ customer experience ecosystem.

For instance, our AI platform for front-office modernization, Cognitive Customer Experience Platform, integrates with all customer channels like voice, email, chat, and website, and provides a seamless and consistent omnichannel experience. It offers predictive intelligence, automated queuing, routing and channel allocation. Cognitive Customer Experience Platform can offer personalized recommendations based on customer analytics. It can indicate customer emotions, intentions, and relevant signals during real-time conversations, thus improving customer satisfaction levels.

Today, Cognitive Customer Experience Platform is the nerve center of CSS Corp’s customer experience (CX) engagements driving customer-centricity. Cognitive Customer Experience Platform recently won the 2017 Silver Stevie International Awards and has been chosen as the Best New Product/Service of the Year – Platform as a Service. Our platform has garnered rave reviews from reputed industry analysts for its novel usage of AI in simplifying customer engagements.

 

How has the focus on automation helped your firm? Can you give us some measurable statistics?

Demand for intelligent and contextualized services across industries is fueling the need for convergence of artificial intelligence (AI), analytics and automation. Forward-looking enterprises are willing to plug in AI in their strategic roadmaps to harmonize customer experience, automate IT operations and modernize support workflows.

In this context, CSS Corp’s Contelli, our intelligent automation platform helps realize the fullest value of hybrid IT infrastructure investments. Contelli is a context-driven automation platform that promotes proactive customer engagement by transforming the core of IT operations. Contelli can detect and analyze the vast volume of data and automate IT processes or workflows while learning and adapting to the processes. The platform can surface probabilistic failure patterns, map dependencies, identify uncharacteristic system behavior and resolve issues ahead of the impact.

For instance, today we manage 4 million networking devices across 85,000 stores for a large retailer through Contelli. We integrate capabilities of AI, machine learning and deep learning to predict network related issues and proactively manage complex ecosystems effortlessly resulting in 40% reduction in total cost of ownership (TCO), 30% productivity improvements, 97% availability of network connectivity and 98% resolution rate.

Our existing customers and prospects have shown utmost interest and enthusiasm to implement Contelli to modernize IT operations. Our customers feel Contelli is far superior compared to any AI solution offered by other leading players in the IT Industry. Contelli today supports 36 million events with over 2500 inbuilt automation solutions achieving 50%-85% automated resolution based on the maturity of customers’ IT ecosystem. We also use Contelli internally to manage our organizational IT infrastructure. Hence, our focus on intelligent automation has helped us build our client base significantly besides helping smoother internal IT operations.

 

Opportunities for your firm in emerging areas such as Artificial Intelligence?

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 is maturing, businesses are plugging in conversational AI in their strategic investment roadmaps to leverage it for their customer service function.

At CSS Corp, we have embarked on a new journey in AI to disrupt the customer experience ecosystem with a new model called ‘Conversational X’. Conversational X 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 move from traditional models to outcome-based service models that help them identify new revenue streams.

Let’s better understand the key tenets of Conversational [X] that can help enterprises and even SMBs to personalize customer interactions. A new era of customer experience has dawned upon us. Voice assistants and social messaging have given birth to the intelligent experience economy and made the customer experience more conversational than transactional. 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.

For example, Amazon’s Alexa can help you perform several tasks like booking a doctor’s appointment; sports scores and game times; important event dates, hear the latest news; tracking traffic; manage calendars, to-do lists and shopping lists, set alarms and timers; read Kindle books and play audio books; make purchases; control smart home devices, etc. 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 get more real-time access to resolutions. This boosts overall business efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Conversational commerce refers to real-time customer communication through different messaging applications and chatbots. It fits into each of the distinct steps in the customer purchase journey. These platforms empower businesses to generate a sense of need for their products to potential customers. The chatbots also act as personal shopping assistants to customers as well as provide recommendations.

 

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Shift left and get right

In today’s rapidly evolving environment, customers are at the center of the business ecosystem. Millennial customers being tech savvy with high expectations are looking for fast and easy solutions and instant gratification. Customers looking for support for consumable goods don’t necessarily look to queue up to talk to customer support representatives, but choose quick self-help options. They are channel agnostic and often prefer that necessary information is made digitally available. And if their providers are unable to provide them with this omni-channel customer experience, they have limited tolerance and often prefer to switch to a competitor.

To overcome typical customer support and channel management issues, organizations have started to embrace “Shift left” principle that moves the issue resolution as close as possible to the front-line and the customer, at the lowest cost level.

Shift Left accelerates case resolutions and requests by enlightening the customer and agents with low cost, self-help options that lets them solve cases themselves and become brand champs. This setup cuts down calls to support saving revenue and turnaround time. Shift Left also allows agents to be critical and on top of their jobs by utilizing the latest Knowledge Bases, AI and Smart Support. The revenue gained can be pumped into customer experience initiatives which further augments the support mechanism by taking the customer through guided points of resolution.

Shift Left relates to IT Services Management (ITSM), and as a discipline minimizes business and productivity impact on the customer. Many enterprises consider this principle in terms of Service Modeling, for it offers various desirable benefits, for both short and long-term gains.
The Shift Left strategy is critical in showing a commitment to superior-grade customer service and experience while freeing up costlier project resources so that they can focus on executing more mission-critical projects in a timely manner.

Key Elements for Implementing the Shift Left Principle
(a) Knowledge Management: Implementing an effective Knowledge Management process calls for a shift in mindset, which must slowly get embedded in the DNA of the organization’s work culture. This would provide a framework for creating a repository of best practices of customer service in a knowledge-intensive environment.

A Knowledge Management System is the core of any Shift-Left approach. The repeated updates and content refresh keeps agents ticking and helps them close more cases than before. It augments engineer’s productivity making them more focused to deliver when it’s necessary avoiding expensive training costs and alignment programs.

(b) Automation: It’s indeed the most tangible way of reducing cost and boosting performance. Automation helps witness a significant drop in fault percentage, a dramatic increase in process efficiency and drives cost optimization. Applied within a Shift Left system, it removes sluggishness from the system, makes workflows sync and “in-line” with other sub systems bringing long standing efficiencies.

(c) Self-service: This adds value to the customer, and can be the best delivery channel. It results in higher user satisfaction and more measurable business results. Finding the right metrics to measure self-service performance is however too significant to demonstrate any reduction in service low costs.
Imbibing self-service for self-help includes access to portals like FAQs, Wikis, and online references and makes use of all options that are not cost bound. This helps customers understand their challenge and solution at their own pace, making them brand evangelists over time and deflects calls to the support center. It’s a win-win for the enterprise as they don’t incur costs for this support function, yet gain customers.

 

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5G: How It Will Change The Network World?

Gartner’s Hype cycle chronicles the innovation triggers that is re-defining the technology trends of the future. This year’s future-ready movements include the dominance of immersive technologies, digitalized eco-systems, democratized AI and ubiquitous infrastructure. The future connected space is made possible through the tactile internet, ubiquitous IoT and hyper communications that are underpinned by 5G infrastructure.

The exponential advancement in the telecommunications trajectory is entering it next paradigm shift with 5G technologies. From the 1G analog phones; human have pushed ahead with the mobile revolution through 2G, 3G, and the current 4G standards. The decade-old fourth generation has exploded into our consciousness with high-speed internet at 100 kbps with information, entertainment and connectivity at our fingertips.

As per Cisco Virtual Networking Index, global IP traffic will triple with a CAGR of 22% over the next three years. One billion internet users will reach out through 3.4 devices consuming over 194 Exabyte of data per month. Machine to machine connections will reach over 12.2 billion engendering an IoT revolution.

A transformative force for global change

Imagine a world with no barriers where communication shrinks space and time. High-speed data with reduced latency and low energy consumption promises light speed connections with near zero information loss. This facilitates businesses, governments, organizations, and communities to seamlessly interact, proactively remove obstacles and extract high efficiencies. This is an innovation trigger that can re-invent the way of life.

5G is not an extension of 4G speed. It leverages the data crunching potential of cloud, virtual networks, edge computing, IoT and more to deliver mission-critical services worldwide. University of Surrey’s 5G innovation center reports an average network speed of 800 Gbps that will bring new dimensions to instant gratification. Qualcomm reports over $12 trillion in 5G services that can impact on how humans work and play on earth and in space.

For example, high-speed data is critical for autonomous vehicles. Seamless urban traffic to 5G driven Vehicle-to-Everything communication will make accidents passé’ and snarls redundant. Lightning speed connections and responses where vehicles share information with urban artifacts and architecture, fellow vehicles and with pedestrians will completely transform how we manufacture cars, design our cities, and use machinery and so on. The ramifications can be felt in industries such as agriculture, mining, construction, transportation, retail, etc.

Re-defining human connect

Human connects will be unconstrained by geographies with the evolution of internet speeds. Researchers are excited about Edge or Fog computing which involves personal cloud power for people.  Imagine billions of clouds churning out data that are instantly converted to actionable insights for personalized responses.

Healthcare is another sector that will reap the benefits of 5G connectivity. The “Tactile Internet” which is an amalgamation of real and virtual objects will blur the boundaries of reality. Ubiquitous sensory wearables can seamlessly map movements and project alternate realities across spaces. This means surgeons can use the tactile internet in telesurgery for patients across the globe. Data streaming through sensory devices can provide real-time health information for doctorxs to deliver accurate diagnosis a world away. But the tactile internet is only possible with low latency high-speed 5G connectivity. And this is not a sci-fi fantasy world, companies like Huawei are actively investing to power the possibilities of the tactile internet.

Why businesses consider 5G to be elusive

Capital investments, lack of business need and customer adoption stand in the way for true 5G adoption. 53% of executives believe that there is no compelling reason to shift to 5G immediately. But most of them are unified in their views about the long-term potential for high-speed 5G connectivity.

A large majority cite high capital investments as a deterrent towards 5G investments. But experts point out that exclusive 5G networks need not be built as it will seamlessly connect with 4G cells. Mobile network operators will be spending less than $20,000 inclusive of all costs for upgrading existing nodes. With more migrations happening to 5G, technological advancements will eventually allow the peaceful co-existence of 4G and 5G spectrums resulting in a better allocation of services ensuring cost savings.

5G – A change of a lifetime

Every technology does have its detractors. Therefore, it is prudent for market challengers to keep 5G within their crosshairs to ride over the disruption curve that will explode in the next decade.

Bearish outlooks are not marring the long march towards 5G. Technological advancements in autonomous vehicles augmented reality and AI is fueling this surge. The emergence of SpaceX, functional humanoids like Sophia and Smart cities across the world will necessitate 5G connectivity. Smart devices can work together only if data connectivity is 10 times faster than 4G networks and latency drops by a factor of 10. With customers demanding immersive experiences that transcends space and time, it is imperative that businesses remain bullish about 5G capabilities.

The author, Phani Kishore Burre is Senior Vice President & Global Delivery Head – Networks, Cloud, Infrastructure & Security Services at CSS Corp

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