Sunil Mittal, EVP & Chief Sales and Marketing Officer shares his views on modernizing customer support operations
Sunil Mittal, EVP & Chief Sales and Marketing Officer shares his views on modernizing customer support operations
As the technology grows in an organization, the risk to data security also rises.The organization needs to secure their data by using some protection. Cyber intrusions and attacks have increased dramatically over the last decade – both in frequency and in sophistication – exposing sensitive personal and business information, disrupting critical operations, and imposing high costs on the economy. Over the next few years, cyber crime attacks are expected to cost as much as $3 trillion in lost economic value.
Recently, many data security breaches have impacted large corporations globally. It should be highlighted that enterprises of all sizes can be targets of data breaches; small and mid-size businesses are in the crosshairs as well and need to protect against data security threats. “To secure data, an important step that many miss out is to create an extensive data security plan in order to understand on what data could be at risk. Enterprise data must be secured through authorized and controlled access, and virtualization enables this security model as it allows one to have a secure architecture and orchestrate control throughout the infrastructure,” says Mahesh Nayak, the Chief Operating Officer, SAP Labs India.
According to Muthu Raja Sankar, Managing Director, Accenture Security, many enterprises do not have sufficient capabilities to proactively identify, understand and respond to incidents that threaten the security of their data. This includes threats and exposures that they may face within the enterprise as well.
At Accenture Security, they believe enterprises can be successful in addressing this by following a three-phased approach:
Build a data protection strategy: Every enterprise needs a strategic vision for data protection, and an actionable roadmap for implementation and a thorough assessment of compliance requirements. This will ensure a strong foundation to understand and identify critical information, current data protection capabilities, and identify potential opportunities and remediation areas.
Optimize and implement the solution: Once the strategy is in place, enterprises must embed security monitoring tools and processes into day-to-day security operations and decisions. This will ensure the enterprise can run scalable security data management and analysis, automate detection and prevent data loss.
Run integrated operations: And finally, the enterprise must partner closely within to be able to achieve the desired outcomes of the data protection strategy. It must orchestrate operations between IT, security and the business to enable ongoing discovery and protection of evolving critical business data, proactively identify and prevent risks, and ensure compliance adherence.
How to secure data from Ransomware
Ransomware is without doubt growing, becoming bolder and more targeted. While future outbreaks are potentially likely to be faster and stronger, and can inflict more damage to their targets, technically and tactically, there are a range of activities that together will help defend and respond more effectively to ransomware outbreaks.
Ransomware restricts access to data by encrypting files or locking computer screens. It then attempts to extort money from victims by asking for “ransom”, usually in form of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, in exchange for access to data. The trend towards increasingly sophisticated malware behavior, highlighted by the use of exploits and other attack vectors, makes older platforms so much more susceptible to ransomware attacks.
In this context, enterprises need proactive threat intelligence and mitigation to detect and resolve targeted advanced threats. “The ability to analyse volumes of data and enable intelligent and actionable cyber response should be a core part of the overall security strategy. Enterprises must focus on investing in contextual security solutions to mitigate advanced threats and ensure the health of data networks and connected assets,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, CIO, CSS Corp.
According to Microsoft spokesperson, in Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, we released Windows Defender Exploit Guard which is a new set of intrusion prevention capabilities. One of its features, Controlled folder access, stops ransomware in its tracks by preventing unauthorized access to your important files. Controlled folder access locks down folders, allowing only authorized apps to access files. Unauthorized apps, including ransomware and other malicious executable files, DLLs, and scripts are denied access to folders.
On the other hand, “Accenture Security helps organizations build resilience from the inside out, so they can operate and grow confidently in a rapidly evolving threat landscape. They help businesses prepare, protect, detect, respond and recover along all points of the security lifecycle.
Particular to addressing ransomware threats, they also advise organizations to adopt a proactive prevention approach, elevate e-mail controls, insulate their infrastructure and most importantly, have a strong cyber resilience plan for recovery that is regularly reviewed and tested,” according to Sankar, Managing Director, Accenture Security.
SAP leverages email sanitation and has strict security patching processes in place, which prevents the WannaCry malware from infecting SAP managed machines. Cloud application security is a priority for every organization as cyber security attackers try to identify and exploit vulnerabilities. “At SAP, product security is part of the quality management process; we ensure that products that reach our customers have the complete product code and key security functions necessary to safeguard product use. Every business expects unalterable data security for the on-premise, cloud, and mobile infrastructure. SAP works continuously to strengthen and improve security features in all of our software and service offerings, while also ensuring our own company data and assets are protected,” added Nayak.
Part of responsibility for keeping files secure lie with online data storage providers and another part lies on the business and its employees. As the GDPR rolls out on May 25th, we embrace the European regulation as it sets a strong standard for privacy and data protection rights, which is at the core of many businesses.
CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technology support company, today announced that it has been named amongst the Global Top 10 Cognitive Assistant Service Providers by HFS Research in its latest Cognitive Assistant Service Providers Report for 2018. The report has been compiled based on interviews with 300 enterprise clients of IT services from the Global 2000 on the innovation and execution performance of service providers.
CSS Corp has been featured for strategically blending domain centric customer service capabilities with their technology prowess in customer engagements. HFS Research has recognized CSS Corp’s cognitive assistant platform Cognitive CX Platform for its modular ability to be integrated easily with contact center channels and with voice platforms like Amazon Echo.
Cognitive CX Platform provides an omnichannel customer experience and offers context-driven, real-time support with a human-like interaction to resolve customers’ needs. The platform also impacts business results outside of cost savings, such as creating new revenue streams and improving content discovery for marketing.
Speaking on the occasion, Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp said, “The future of business is being sharply re-defined by greater personalization for the digital customer. To deliver value, brands are increasingly reimagining customer engagement through intelligent technology. At CSS Corp, innovation in emerging technologies and service delivery excellence defines our pinpoint focus on customer centricity. We are attuned to the needs of our customers, and are striving to exceed their expectations along with their business transformation journeys.”
“As we continue to pursue meaningful engagements with customers and partners, this recognition is another endorsement of our strategy and focus to help our clients digitally transform,” he further added.
Sunil Mittal, EVP & Chief Sales and Marketing Officer said, “We are delighted to be recognized amongst the top 10 service providers for cognitive assistants globally by HFS Research. With our digital-focused strategy, we have been driving innovation and fresh thinking to open up new growth and revenue streams, both for our customers, as well as for us. This recognition positions us favorably to move up the value chain and leverage Cognitive CX Platform’s versatile and modular solutions to drive tangible impact for our customers. ”
“As personalization becomes a critical business differentiator in CX, we will continue to innovate and invest in new tech to stay ahead of the curve and move with greater agility,” he further added.
It is that time of the year the air is abuzz with a new beginning as a year comes to a close. All these years we have seen technology as an evolutionary entity, graduating from one milestone to the next, forever upping the ante and bringing new set of challenges and problems to solve.
In all 2019 looks like an exciting year for tech and in many ways see the firming up of many tech trends like IOT to AI, taking deeper roots and impacting enterprise computing in ways we have not seen before.
As we look at the year ahead, we need to see through a dual lens- one from the supply side of IT and the other from the demand side of things. The supply side (the vendors) needs to stay focused and relevant to capture larger mandates from the tech disruption and the demand side (the enterprises) needs to ink progressive strategies to adopt newer tech to stay ahead of the race. In a nutshell, the way things are progressing, technology will be common denominator that will determine the success of companies across verticals, no matter what their core business is, they need to induct massive dose of modern tech to transition to the next orbit of growth and profitability.
According to a recent Gartner study, it said, that the top five areas that Asia/Pacific CIOs will invest new or additional funding in 2019 are: Business Intelligence and Data Analytics (42 percent); Core System Improvements and Transformation (33 percent); Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (33 percent), Cybersecurity and Information Security (32 percent); and Digital business initiatives (30 percent).
The 2019 Gartner CIO Agenda survey gathered data from more than 3,000 CIO respondents in 89 countries and all major industries — 671 CIOs are from 16 countries within Asia/Pacific, representing $6.1 trillion in revenue and $73.7 billion in IT spending.
Gartner also said that AI and Cybersecurity will shape the CIO technology agenda. “The CIO Agenda survey indicates that disruptive emerging technologies will play a major role in reshaping business models in Asia/Pacific as they change the economics of all organizations. Thirty-four percent of CIOs in the region expect AI to be the most disruptive game changer for their organizations in 2019, taking the top spot away from data and analytics, which now occupies second place at 26 percent.”
Moreover 49 percent of Asia/Pacific CIOs have already deployed AI technology or deployment is in short-term planning, coming in second behind cybersecurity (86 percent). The top three ways Asia/Pacific CIOs are using AI are for chatbots (37 percent), process optimization (27 percent) and fraud detection (20 percent).
“This rapid shift to AI looks revolutionary on the surface, but this bump in adoption rate may indicate irrational exuberance instead,” says Rowsell-Jones, Vice President and Distinguished Analyst at Gartner. “While CIOs can’t afford to ignore this class of technologies, they should retain a sense of proportion. This latest batch of AI tools is yet to go through its Trough of Disillusionment.”
“The strong focus on cybersecurity shows the necessity of creating a secure base for digital business that shields their organization and clients. The survey indicates that 45 percent of Asia/Pacific CIOs still own the responsibility for cybersecurity. However, the IT organization alone cannot provide cybersecurity anymore,” adds Rowsell-Jones
Moreover Gartner observers that the rise of social engineering attacks, such as phishing, require a broader behavioral change of all employees. In 24 percent of the digitally top performing organizations in Asia/Pacific, the boards of directors are accountable for cybersecurity rather than the CIO alone. Nevertheless, CIOs are combining measures to harden information processing assets with efforts to influence the people that use technology to improve security against cyber threats.
What is the level of adoption of new technologies such as cloud, big data analytics, and IoT among Indian enterprises?
New age technologies are increasingly changing the way products and services are delivered and consumed. Customers of tomorrow are exploring newer channels and expect personalized, proactive and even pre-emptive services. Companies across various industries are changing their sales and services strategies to attract and retain customers. In this context, businesses need to embrace adaptive and agile technologies to manage millennial expectations and growth.
2018 will see a significant increase in the adoption of technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Analytics, internet of things (IoT) and Cloud, as organizations adopt a serious approach towards digital transformation.
At CSS Corp, we have started moving aggressively with adoption and investment in customer-centric technologies like AI, analytics, cloud and digital. Our tools offer personalized and context driven insights that empower customer journeys. Some of these include Cognitive CX Platform, a conversational AI platform, Contelli, an intelligent automation platform for IT Operations and Active Insights, AI-powered customer intelligence platform.
Cloud is at the epicenter of all our modernization and transformation programs. Our approach towards cloud migration starts with application and then infrastructure. For example we have transformed the digital marketing ecosystem for a large FMCG retail major. We have developed a complete suite of solutions to shift from a “program” to “continuous delivery” model for cloud adoption through our key cloud solutions like CloudMAP, CloudPATH, and CloudDRIVE. Big Data Analytics and IoT are also important business enablers, and that’s where our customers and prospects are moving towards. Recently we partnered with GE Digital (Predix Platform) to deliver cutting edge Industrial IoT solutions.
What are the key challenges faced while adopting and managing new technologies?
Leaders are constantly looking for ways to leverage the new age solutions like AI, analytics, automation and IoT to win, grow and retain customers. However, this requires a new perspective on the implementation approach and a shift in data integration, standardization, governance, and orchestration strategies.
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. 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
Cloud has emerged as a critical enabler of business transformation and innovation – a powerful technology disruptor that constantly challenges the existing IT landscape, compelling enterprises to adopt newer cloud-based paradigms or risk losing the game. But with so many options available, choosing the right migration partner, the right service model, the best-suited deployment option, and the type of workload to be moved, are of paramount significance. Ensuring data privacy and security in cloud adoption is another crucial parameter for consideration.
Today’s digital business environment comes with high risks that will go beyond information technology. Gartner predicts, by 2020, 60 percent of digital businesses will suffer major service failures due to the inability of IT security teams to manage digital risk. As organizations continue to grow in their digital journey, necessary security measures need to be put in place to prevent any damage and not just in the organization but across all entities which form part of the value chain. To have a secure digital infrastructure, rigorous reviewing and upgradation should be done to ensure protection against newer threats. It is also important to come up with a broad approach to manage the risks involved in the digital ecosystem.
At CSS Corp, we follow a consulting-led approach to Digital Transformation which covers all aspects of the enterprise digital transformation journey by leveraging data to deliver superior customer experience. Enterprises can build deeper customer relationships with contextualized and personalized experiences, strategically plan with analytics-driven data intelligence and go to market faster. Our solutions offer personalized and context driven insights that empower customer journeys. Some of these include Cognitive CX Platform, a Conversational AI platform, Contelli, an intelligent automation platform for IT Operations and Active Insights, AI powered Customer Intelligence Platform, to name a few.
Which technology trends are likely to dominate the enterprise space in 2018?
In 2018 some of the key trends that will have an impact on our business and industry are:
a. Conversational Customer Experience: 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, forward-thinking businesses are plugging in conversational AI in their strategic investment roadmaps to leverage it for their customer service function.
b. Artificial Intelligence: Gartner forecasts that AI will lead to $200 billion in new revenue and 768,000 new positions in 2018 alone. Another study predicted that almost every new software product or service will adopt AI by 2020. Humungous amounts of data being generated each day have been the main driver as enterprises apply this data driven intelligence to automated machine learning to meet business goals.
c. Contextualization: 2018 will see widespread use of contextual algorithms to solve business problems through contextual automation, contextual security, contextual support, and contextual marketing. It will be at the epicenter of the success of customer experience programs across industries, especially AI driven solutions.
d. Edge Computing: In 2011, only 20 percent of businesses had completed significant cloud migrations. Today, the cloud is the default answer for reducing storage costs and creating efficiencies and is established as an enabler of innovation and new business models. Edge computing is set up to follow a similar path. Implementations will continue to accelerate, and early adopters are learning how to leverage the full value of the edge for better, not just cheaper, outcomes.
What were the key technology trends witnessed in the enterprise space during 2017?
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 AI will not 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. In fact, Gartner predicts that “conversational AI-first” will supersede “cloud-first, mobile-first” as the most important, high-level imperative for the next 10 years.
According to a new report from Juniper Research, smart devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home will be installed in 55 percent of U.S. households by the year 2022. In fact, RBC Capital Market’s Mark Mahney has predicted that Amazon will generate sales of an additional $10 billion to $11 billion from Alexa-related revenue in 2020.
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 brands 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.
The key tenets of a conversational [x] that can help enterprises and even SMBs to personalize customer interactions are:
Conversational Customer Experience: 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.
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.
Conversational Support: 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.
Conversational Commerce: 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 by recommending relevant products and even helping with the execution of the purchase.
Organisations are investing significantly in AI and it will continue to happen with AI becoming more of a catalyst for businesses.
We live in very exciting times. The artificial intelligence debate is intensifying. There is constant commentary on it from some of the finest brains of our times. Some are for it with gusto and some seek caution.
One thing is certain, AI has accelerated like no other technology in the past few decades. It is 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. Organisations are investing significantly in AI and it will continue to happen with AI becoming more of a catalyst for businesses. Experts predict that technologies that underpin the fourth industrial revolution are all set to bring out the best in people.
If you think job disruption by artificial intelligence (AI) is limited to the marketing, finance, sales and customer service, think again: The AI dust is being sprinkled on the human resources function, too.
Although the field is projected to grow 9 percent by 2024, as companies grow and need more robust structures for supporting and empowering employees, the hype and expectations of AI in the HR sector are getting astronomical.
That’s indeed good news for the HR folks – isn’t it?
Certainly, the HR department is one of the most complex, handcrafted and data-dependent business processes within an organisation. AI has the potential to transform employee engagement with relevant, quick and in- depth analysis of various functions within HR.
AI provides the teams with the necessary budget space to be more effective and efficient than ever.
Many HR leaders have already begun experimenting with varied facets of AI to deliver maximum value to their organizations. Organisations with large employee bases are turning to AI to reduce the cost involved in managing operations, to improve employee engagement to drive bias-free decisions in employee screening and recruitment.
AI can also help HR shared service organisations to focus on strategic business initiatives and can enable them to streamline and modernise HR operations, especially in the following areas:
Reimagining HR operations with AI and machine learning technologies
AI and non-transactional segments of HR
AI has the potential to take HR experience to a higher level by automating most of the non-transactional HR tasks. Let’s have a closer look at some of these tasks.
Recruitment: Hiring in thousands leads to scale issues for HR professionals, who most often grapple with the problem of “resume overload“. Robots with AI software designed for recruitment are helping HRs in the screening process by identifying hard-to-find candidates at scale, collecting potential employees’ information and performing background checks. Such tools help candidates select the right job thereby freeing head hunters from the mundane task of candidate screening.
On-boarding: Smart AI tools focus on making on-boarding a self-service process since these can connect directly with onsite employees, and collaborate with the workforce management team.
Organisations are increasingly leveraging video conferencing tools for interviewing and assessing candidates. According to a recent research by Polycom, by the year 2020, 50 percent of conference rooms will be video-enabled. AI tools can analyse these videos to assess candidates’ language, skills, educational credentials, even honesty and mood.
Sentiment analysis: Telecom, technology banking, and healthcare sectors are hard pressed with the challenge of employee retention. Several companies have already started using AI and ML solutions to capture employee feedback to get a better understanding of their sentiments in real time. The key reason that organizations dig into sentiment technology lies in its data. AI, a big game changer here, can spot and analyse intelligent patterns in the sentiment of employees through their geographic locations, emails, conversations, etc.
Can AI replace human empathy and intuition?
Over the last few years, AI has gradually seeped into a domain which was considered solely to be driven by humans – HR department. From the screening process to enhancing employee engagement and sentiment analysis, AI has literally revolutionised this critical business function. Earlier confined to only big enterprises, AI is now spreading to MSMEs (Medium Small Medium Enterprises) as well.
However, the entry of AI has got many HR professionals fearing that they could be replaced by technology. Although the same fears should have cropped up in the minds of employees during the time of computer revolution as well.
“Human vs. intelligent machines” is probably the second-best bogey after ‘God vs Lucifer’, a timeless battle. Some commentators belong to that school of thought believing that ‘tech is going to replace humans’ and that AI will trigger a tsunami of redundancies throughout the workforce, while other experts believe that AI and human intuition go hand in hand.
So, where do we stand now? Has the transformation begun?
AI is not the future anymore; it is the present already and making waves in one function in 2018: Human Resources. Often, this function is perceived to lag in digital transformation, but with AI now has emerged as a game changer, there is a great opportunity awaiting the HR world.
AI allows huge amounts of data to be amassed and processed that would be far beyond human capabilities. However, this data-crunching and analytical aspect of AI can certainly validate the human gut feel. Instead of replacing HR professionals, ground-breaking AI tools are complementing human skills and managing role tasks to avoid multiple HR roles, thus freeing up the valuable human capital to focus on more strategic or critical aspects of their jobs.
Many experts feel AI can never replace human empathy and intuition. A company’s HR department is likely to always need a human at the helm to handle interpersonal conflicts using non-cognitive and reasoning skills. AI is unlocking and amplifying human potential, not replacing it. People will be able to focus much more on value-added work and less on rote tasks unleashing their creative potential better.
Smooth connectivity and the easy availability of digital tools these days have changed our lives to a great extent-including the ways we connect and interact with brands. Instant gratification has become the new norm in today’s world, which means if you don’t have your finger on the customers’ pulse, then chances are that your consumer will not hesitate a bit in turning his/her back on you as well. Customer-centricity, on the other hand, can get you loyalty, repeat business, profits and most importantly help you get an edge over your competitors.
A McKinsey study concluded that companies that can consistently deliver a high-quality customer experience(CX) can improve their customer satisfaction level by 33 percent while creating cost savings of around 25-30 perpent. On the other hand, disruption at any given point in a customer journey could impact the overall customer experience, and could further impact the revenue side of their business.
While, it’s not difficult to assume why CX has become a key focus of businesses today, but providing a seamless, consistent, and personalized experience can be challenging and CX solution providers are looking for new innovative ways to deal with it. There’s no doubt that the adoption of omni-channel services have been able to let customers connect seamlessly with the businesses. But the challenges are not limited to technology, disparate systems, and data only. We often miss the most critical element- the humans- who are entrusted with the task of interacting with the customers. Hence, when businesses look to embrace a customer-centric culture by putting customers front and centre of their business strategy, they need to strategize their CX-related investments carefully and understand how it affects the entire ecosystem.
The good news is that things are now changing faster with exciting new innovations and developments in this realm. Gartner predicts that more than 50pc of organizations will redirect their investments towards CX innovations by 2018, as they see value in using them to improve every customer interaction.
MAKING THE BUSINESS CASE
Superior customer experience is the holy grail for organizations focused on driving sustainable growth and competitive differentiation. But, it can get a bit tricky if they fail to contextualize and align their CX investments with customer pain points and with growth opportunities. Vivian Gomes, VP & Head of Marketing, CSS Corp said, In my view, organizations should adopt an agile and an incremental approach towards digitalizing processes involved in customer lifecycle management. This is not a big bang theory. Making the transformation towards digital enabled CX has to start with driving a strong data-driven culture in the organization. One can start with low hanging fruit and ensure the data from customer touch points is efficiently captured and leveraged across the customer journey. Organizations should create a credible mechanism to streamline data and build customer
“ORGANIZATIONS SHOULD ADOPT AN AGILE AND AN INCREMENTAL APPROACH TOWARDS DIGITALIZING PROCESSES INVOLVED IN CUSTOMER LIFECYCLE MANAGEMENT. THIS IS NOT A BIG BANG THEORY”
– VIVIAN GOMES, VP & HEAD OF MARKETING, CSS CORP
~ In an interaction with ETHealthworld, Vasudevan Sundarababu, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology officer (CTO) at CSS Corp, shares insight on developments in conversational artificial intelligence and how it is redefining the healthcare scenario ~
AI does improve and cut down on the human error in terms of diagnosis and relapse however the final decision is taken by the doctors. In an interaction with ETHealthworld, Vasudevan Sundarababu, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology officer (CTO) at CSS Corp, shares insight on developments in conversational artificial intelligence and how it is redefining the healthcare scenario.
Your views on conversational AI adding value to healthcare
Conversational AI is revolutionizing patient interactions primarily in booking appointments, obtaining drug information and receiving healthcare reminders like flu vaccination. Conversational AI and chatbots are the last mile of digitization, before that comes contextualization. Contextualization is the new personalization. So how do I understand the context or need of a patient? That happens with the digitization and creation of a robust knowledge base, which voice-based channels can tap into.
The accuracy of the technology revolves around deep understanding of natural language processing and replying in a contextual manner. This technology is rapidly evolving and I think in the next 2-3 years, the usage would be more prevalent as it would reduce waiting period in the hospitals, help in explanation of drugs in prescriptions and so on. So, the usage and adoption will be very high going forward.
Having said that, in the near future, conversational AI is not going to prescribe a medicine to patients because prescription of medication involves consideration of multiple factors beyond just the codified data. Conversational AI isn’t intelligent enough to replace doctors and we are still far away from that point.
How ML and AI improve diagnosis?
AI is currently used as an augmentation tool for doctors, basis which they can take informed decisions. There are many use cases where it has been effective. Importantly, AI helps us to reduce false negative results. For instance, if there is a tumor which can be cancerous, and the results are false negative, AI helps to detect that and report it. It helps to flag scenarios which escape human eye or human diagnosis. AI can be used to analyze various images like CT Scans and X-rays. So, AI does improve and cut down on human error in terms of diagnosis.
Another place where machine learning and AI helps us is in relapse. The system analyses and tracks cases of a possible relapse occurring which may not be normally identified by physicians. These cases are spotted and post-surgical care can be also suggested through ML and AI technologies. But reiterating that the final decision is still taken by doctors, so human intervention is still required.
What are the limitation and challenges of AI in the current Indian healthcare setting?
India is steadily adopting AI, but the adoption in healthcare as compared to the West is still relatively slower as it is mainly to do with digitization. AI needs data to work. The first step should be digitizing all patient health records from x-rays to prescription records to truly harness AI capabilities. Digitization and AI would also tremendously help in other healthcare areas like drug development, clinical trials and analysis of surgical procedures.
AI-defined architecture unifies three typically human characteristics to automate IT and business processes – learning, understanding and solving. Using these skills, cognitive systems today can talk to people, plan and optimize tasks, make forecasts, recognize patterns, and analyze image and voice signals.
IT operation managers are under ever-increasing pressure to increase performance while reducing budgets. With increasingly complex technologies, increased globalization, and more reliance on technology for critical business capabilities, they face constant pressure to reduce business downtime that negatively impacts customer experience, reduces employee productivity, and leads to loss in revenue. They face highly advanced security threats, which are amplified by difficulty in having the right security staff with the right skills. And they are often responsible for managing legacy systems, which come with an extra burden of manual mundane operations and heavy dependency on the IT workforce.
As advancements in technologies create additional pressures on IT operations, they can also provide new forms of relief. The introduction of cognitive technologies is an increasingly useful solution to these growing problems.
Evolution of Cognitive Technologies
Cognitive has moved dramatically beyond the conceptual stages in 2016, evolving from simple isolated automation systems to integrated enterprise-class digital automation solutions. Today, we have such diverse abilities as Runbook Automation (a sequence of steps leading to the implementation of automated tasks started by a system or user), AI Ops platforms (leveraging big data and AI or machine learning functionality to improve and partially replace a myriad of IT operations processes and tasks), and AI-led Intelligent Automation (context-aware robots that cement a strong foundation for applications and services).
Over the next half a decade, we expect the impact of cognitive technologies on different industries to grow significantly. A recent survey conducted by Deloitte of more than 200 IT executives found that over 64% intend to increase investments in cognitive technologies. Driven by new investments, AI-led cognitive systems will scale up across industries and functions including financial planning, analysis and decision making.
Simplifying IT Operations with Cognitive
Within the IT operations, cognitive technologies (especially intelligent automation) are the next game changers. These systems detect and analyze vast quantities of data and automate complete IT processes or workflows while learning and adapting in the process. This key feature allows them to facilitate autonomous and seamless decision making even when there are aberrations in the process implementation. Some of the practical applications include:
1. Predictive Maintenance
Cognitive-based predictive maintenance systems leverage huge data sets to anticipate failures before they happen. Companies can schedule preventive maintenance before likely failures, while getting important recommendations on how to prevent potential security breaches.
2. Interdependency Analytics
Many current infrastructure and application performance management suites offer visibility to a specific component of the stack, but not full stack visibility, causing the IT workforce to spend increasing amounts of time unraveling and troubleshooting complex environments. Cognitive-based interdependency analytics map relationships between systems, predict events based on dependencies and help engineers make well-informed decisions about data center optimization and planning.
3. Self-healing and Autonomous Remediation
Critical infrastructure, applications and software must be recovered after they crash, powered by either external or internal system breaches. Until recently, there was no accepted mechanism to automate this. Now, thanks to three integrated AI-based capabilities (automatic instrumentation, machine learning analytics, and integrated remediation), self-healing and auto-remediation systems can now detect the need of healing resources and utilize them appropriately.
4. Self-learning System and Knowledge Management
Intelligent (AI-based) learning systems, with self-regulated content, support self-oriented learning, enhance performance and generate competitiveness for the enterprises. Knowledge management ensures intelligence is always in reach and yielded in the context of the task. It makes it simple to find relevant information and resources, and offer relevant methods, tools, templates, techniques, and examples.
5. Role of Smart Agents to Manage L0/L1
Smart agents are intelligent and connected AI-based virtual assets. These agents can detect and respond to internal and external environment. With them, enterprises can make an intelligent shift from real-time control to predictive control to ultimately, autonomous control.
A Compelling Value Proposition
The bottom line is that using cognitive in IT operations is good for the bottom line. Compared to traditional models, companies can achieve significant operational cost reductions. Enterprises with limited developer skill set can automate most of the high-volumes, rule-based work processes round-the-clock at the fraction of a cost of a human resource.
But cognitive isn’t just cheaper – it’s also better. Preventing issues, rather than responding to them, is a win-win for business operations and IT operations. Thorough understanding of systems, through independency analysis, self-learning and knowledge management, reduced the frequency of issues as well as the time to restore.
Implementing cognitive tools also provides value in the form of critical AI experience. According to New IDC Spending Guide, global spending on cognitive and AI solutions will achieve a compound annual growth rate of 54.4% through 2020 when revenues will be more than $46 billion, and the US will be the largest market. It makes sense then to look at IT to lead the charge, adopting them internally first as a precursor to implementation throughout the organization.
Looking to the Future
AI-defined architecture unifies three typically human characteristics to automate IT and business processes – learning, understanding and solving. Using these skills, cognitive systems today can talk to people, plan and optimize tasks, make forecasts, recognize patterns, and analyze image and voice signals. In the not-to-distance future, self-aware machines might possess thoughts, feelings, and consciousness. As the capabilities of these systems expand, the opportunity to use them in administering IT operations only grows.
“I get hyper-focused and forget to take a break. Whether it’s a client that I know we can serve really well or teaching my daughter to ride her bike”
1. If not in the current profession, you would be?
Growing up, my family had a business and I had always planned to join them. When I graduated University, I took a job in the IT services industry to gain experience – and I loved it. And I never looked back. But if I wasn’t doing this, I think that is where I would be.
2. One tune you always hum.
There are actually two. One is “Jab Koi Baat Bigad Jaye” and the other is “Dream Big” by Ryan Shupe & the RubberBand.
3. One book to read when you want to motivate yourselves.
The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. The author writes about the situation where the conventional wisdom fails you. It’s the ability to “spot the next move” during those times that makes a great leader.
4. One dialogue of a movie that motivates you or you like the most.
I like the movie, The Pursuit of Hapiness because it shows how hard work and vision are unstoppable. There is a passage where Chris Gardner tells his son, “Don’t ever let someone tell you, you can’t do something. Not even me. You got a dream, you got to protect it. People can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you, you can’t do it. You want something, go get it. Period. All right?” That has always resonated with me.
5. The place you never been to and always want to go?
French Polynesia. In the past, at one of my client locations, my view out of the window included a billboard advertising Bora Bora, with the sun setting behind Mt. Otemanu. We’ve been waiting for my daughters to be old enough to scuba with us. I view it as an opportunity to work on my patience!