2019

Why a slump in US may not be bad news for Indian IT

A possible slowdown in the US economy is unlikely to hit the growth momentum for Indian IT services companies, say analysts, because their clients in the largest market would outsource more digital technology-led services that they have built over the past couple of years by also hiring local workforce in the US.

Companies such as Tata Consultancy Services, InfosysNSE -0.31 %, HCL TechnologiesNSE 0.32 % and WiproNSE 0.08 %, besides midtier firms like L&T Infotech and CSS Corp are already disrupting their business models where they look at building value through productivity and IP, moving away from the traditional cost-arbitrage model. “If it is a moderate downturn, given the digital imperative, hopefully Indian IT can ride it,” Sangeeta Gupta, senior vice-president at Nasscom, told ET. “Digital technology spend is significantly low and I think the headroom for growth is much higher… Banks and financial services companies are already thinking about what can be done to invest in these technologies to deal with such change.”

Last week, Goldman Sachs cut the US economy growth forecast for the first half of 2019 to 2% from 2.4%, saying it was still “not worried about a recession”. While the bank was optimistic of a soft landing of the US economy, a Duke University survey in December of US CFOs claimed nearly half the chief financial officers expected the country to hit a recession by end-2019. The worst-case projections included a fall in capital spending with flat hiring.

“In the last economic crisis in 2008-2009, offshore outsourcers held on fairly well initially, and made adjustments to boost revenue and profitability. Hiring continued to happen although at a reduced pace. However, towards the fag end of the recession, it was clear that IT firms were witnessing pricing pressures and slowdown in business velocity,” said Manish Tandon, chief executive of CSS Corp. He added that the industry had shown tremendous resilience in the past and reinvented itself through flexible business models.

“Hence, it might emerge as a strong partner for global organisations to wade through their economic pressures.”

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Geospatial data has brought up importance of Location and Localization – Nishikant Nigam, CSS Corp

Digitization is changing business-customer interactions, companies are focused on how to deliver seamless, uniform experiences to their customers, when and where they demand. The digitally savvy customers are now getting what they want, almost instantly. They are app natives, always connected and highly aware on how technology can empower them to fulfill their needs. Digital technology is transforming customer habits and the opportunities to align the real and the digital world has emerged significantly. To continually evolve, companies should identify data patterns and relationships and underpin the actionable value of data for better comprehension.

The data also involves location information or geospatial data which is increasingly becoming a source of value creation. Geospatial is the intersection of real and digital world; hence the quality of data is more critical, since it has contextual information. Be it personalized ad recommendations, schedule reliability, managing wait and travel times, fleet optimization, delivery reliability, or an augmented reality experience, geospatial data has brought up the importance of location and localization. Geospatial technologies are facilitating high-end locational intelligence along with IoT, Big Data and AI to build smart, inclusive customer communities and transform the way we live and work.

Localization – the new technology trend

Location and localization (the process of making services suitable for an area, region, etc.) are the key trends that will transform human life and movement in the coming years. GPS, digital maps, and satellite imagery has completely changed the paradigm of how we locate ourselves in the real world. GPS has so far leveraged 2D space locations for mobiles, vehicles, etc. Now, localization has emerged as the new technology trend which can determine 3D spatial positioning to enable autonomous movement of objects like cars, drones, robots, farm equipment, etc.

Geospatial technologies are leveraging the power of IoT and analytics to provide real-time insights for managing basic amenities such as power and streamlining postal operations. Location data combined with market intelligence, demographics, and operational data can be used to build marketing networks, create telecom infrastructure, or schedule healthcare visits in smart cities. The big picture of Geospatial contains digital content, services and applications with location as the core, also including data and intelligence to provide insights. It also helps us understand real-world behaviors, exploring new frontiers – be it drone development or building smarter cities.

Integrating geospatial for competitive advantage

CSS CORP offers location and localization solutions ranging from data sourcing, processing, curation, validation and management to customized applications for analytics, integration, and visualization.

We realize that geospatial data and technology has enabled and exemplified a new wave of value creation and we are making the right moves by integrating geospatial with our award-winning machine learning capabilities to create a significant competitive advantage.

We have differentiated expertise and offer industry-specific geospatial solutions. These include telecom, utilities and navigation data enablement services. For telecom sector, we offer network design services leveraging 3D line of sight and penetration analysis for RF and wireless networks, complete fiber management systems with the right-of-way, assets, and geo-tagging of assets, analytical solutions that allow you to target your network investments toward the highest-growth areas.

In the utilities domain, we implement geospatial + IoT sensors to monitor the performance of infrastructure such as electric, water, sewer, or gas lines, prevention of excavation damage by enabling easy access to information about buried utilities, Infer high velocity data streams and perform real-time integration with geospatial information to generate insights, analyze, visualize, and monitor multi-dimensional, layered data sets comprising of land features, networks and assets and high velocity sensor data streams. Navigation data enablement include data acquisition from photography or LiDAR, 2d and 3d data processing and curation services, ML-based conflation and accuracy improvement & AI enabled automated verification.

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CSS Corp wins “Digital Company of the Year 2019” at BTVI Business Leader of Year Awards

CSS Corp, a new age IT services and technology support company, announced it has won the ‘Digital Company of the Year 2019’ at the recently concluded BTVI Business Leader of the Year Awards.

The company was recognized for its innovation in digital customer experience and IT operations leveraging cognitive technologies that enable brands to deliver agility, speed, and control across customer interactions and diverse IT ecosystems.

CSS Corp’s digital solutions are built to simplify customer interactions and business operations through the implementation of AI capabilities and advanced statistical models. In a customer support ecosystem, the cognitive CX platform helps reorient organizations to adopt agile and contextual strategies that proactively assess conditions, analyze problems, and recommend solutions to drive omnichannel customer engagement.

In an IT operations ecosystem, CSS Corp’s intelligent automation solutions help in dynamically and proactively monitor and manage IT infrastructure, maximizing up time. CSS Corp also helps organizations modernize their legacy applications leveraging cloud technologies. It provides a unique services value proposition that blends digital technologies with services to drive outcomes for its customers.

“Our deep-rooted customer-centric approach has helped us build a progressive and agile solution portfolio that elevates the customer experience. Our cognitive capabilities have been instrumental in transforming CX and IT operations for organizations across industries. We are delighted to be recognized for our innovation and are committed to maintaining our investments towards building a nimble delivery ecosystem that leverages best-in-class people, digitally mature processes and next-generation technologies that mobilize organizations to deliver stellar customer experiences”, said Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp.

Column: Where do we draw the line for automation in CX?

Automation has always been equated with efficiency and progress. Due to the growing cost of resources and the rise of the consumer driven economy, most organizations have rushed towards automation to optimize their business processes. While automation has influenced every business function, the biggest impact has been on customer service.

In the pursuit to deliver a delightful experience to customers and also to manage cost, enterprises have placed AI-driven chatbots, IVRs, and voice AI at the heart of their customer service strategy.

In the process, many companies continue offloading the traditional human-to-human touch points from their consumer related communication. Gartner has estimated that by 2020, 85% of customer interactions with a company will be handled without human involvement.

While AI-driven automation can help enterprises relieve their customer service teams from repetitive and mundane tasks, most companies have pushed the boundaries beyond acceptable limits. As a result, enterprises have often over-automated their CX function with AI, which has come at the expense of the much needed ‘human-element’.

In this respect, automation should not be seen as a solution to replace human effort. It should be used as a leverage to augment human productivity and lower costs to engage in a sustainable business model and have better conversations with the customers.

Why over-automation can be a risk

Humans are wired to communicate. The inferences from conversations however, depend on context, intent, and tone. The problem in automating interactions is that sometimes, key aspects of the interaction get lost in translation. The “human” factor is missed out and it becomes a set of commands that are executed.  This is why such implementations can be overwhelming for consumers.

But, by forcing customers to communicate with machines that lack a human element, over automaton can drive companies to put their hard earned brand equity at stake.

Why is human-centric CX important?

Automation hasn’t reached a point where it can address all the customer requirements. It is still not accustomed to helping customers in unexpected situations which it is not programmed to handle.

 

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How Analytics Can Revolutionize the Healthcare Ecosystem

Big Data and analytics have transformed the way we look at data. While the healthcare industry is no stranger to tools that capture and store data (Electronic Health Records), the industry is swiftly moving towards deep healthcare analytics, to radically change the way healthcare is delivered. The focus is shifting from merely treating, to prediction, and subsequently prevention. The move from volume-based to value-based models creates a strong case for deep analytics that provides personalized medicines tailored to the needs of individual patients, while widening the understanding of population health, to spot trends and prescribe effective solutions to the forecasted issues.

What is Deep Healthcare Analytics?
Gartner predicts that “automated healthcare could account up to 85% of all healthcare customer experiences by 2020”. This automation could range from a simple patient form to detecting diseases from an MRI or CAT scan (AI-based).

Under the umbrella of AI-based healthcare analytics, predictive analytics though in a nascent stage itself, is giving way to cognitive analytics, which includes conversational AI and related complex technologies. But one shouldn’t look at them as independent technologies, rather as levels on the scale of analytics adoption. Predictive analytics uses data from the past and present to forecast future scenarios, thus, allowing healthcare providers to plan, manage, and even preempt. Cognitive analytics using machine and deep learning techniques has the capability to provide actionable insights in real-time, by piecing together relevant data and applying the findings to a particular context. It is meant to supplement human decision-making.

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CSS Corp wins Silver Stevie® in 2019 sales & customer service awards

CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technology support company, today announced that it has won the Silver Stevie® Award in the “Best Use of Customer Insights” category at the 2019 Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service.

 CSS Corp’s Active Insights platform was recognized for its innovative usage of AI and data insights to impact revenue streams and create a competitive advantage for its customers. The results were declared during the award ceremony on Friday, February 22 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The cloud-based Active Insights platform is a multi-faceted advanced analytics platform that goes beyond traditional analytical models. It helps businesses understand their customers across their digital journeys by providing insights on customer intent, interactions, engagement, and enablement. With its extensive data ingestion, cognitive insight, simplified visualization, and extensive reporting capabilities, Active Insights has been consistently ranked amongst the leading customer analytics platforms in the world.

“In today’s connected economy, consumers demand instant gratification and instant solutions for complex problems. This has changed the competitive dynamics for global brands, making them seek out actionable insights, but by sifting through tons of customer data.”, said Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp.

“As a new-age services company, CSS Corp understands this need deeply, and hence we are building customer-centric solutions that change the way our customers create and compete, and bring about significant revenue advantage to them”, he mentioned.

“We are proud to see Active Insights being recognized by Stevie, and this award is a testament to our continued pursuit of customer centricity and deep tech innovation,” he added.

More than 2,700 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were evaluated in this year’s competition. Finalists were determined by the average scores of more than 150 professionals worldwide, in seven specialized judging committees. This story is provided by BusinessWireIndia. (ANI)

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6 Reasons Why Gaming Organizations Need Good Customer Services

Entertainment not only relieves stress but can also be a great source of happiness. While games have always been a great source of entertainment the mediums through which they are delivered and consumed have created a snowball effect over the years. As much as 64% of the general population in the U.S. alone consists of avid gamers, and the global gaming market is expected to touch a whopping $90 billion by 2020. Now, those are massive numbers.

Most gamers are passionate about the games they play. However, their loyalty should never be taken for granted by gaming companies. Their passion towards the game typically leads them to have a shorter “fuse” than most other types of consumers. The other dynamic, unique to this industry is that a very miniscule percentage of customers drive the vast majority of revenue, making churn significantly more painful. So, what needs to be done, not just to keep them happy, but also to maintain a perennial flow of revenue?

Here are some of the fundamentals that may appear to be borrowed from the software industry but can be applied to the gaming vertical as well.

Identifying the differentiators
As the gaming industry keeps growing, it’s also turning highly competitive. As there is little to choose between competitors on factors like graphics, soundtracks, and cost, the ability to provide personalized and in-game service to players is turning out to be an essential differentiator. The ideal way to keep the players loyal is to keep them delighted, which can be achieved through a mix of exceptional customer service and analytics-driven insights about players.

Many gaming companies now realize the real value of customer service and player analytics. Bringing this together can provide gaming companies with a substantial competitive advantage, offering substantial returns on the investment. While increasing competition makes it difficult for gaming firms to persuade new players to spend money on subscriptions, it is much easier to monetize in-game services. Additionally, player analytics can be used in tandem to identify the insights that could add value to player journeys and prompt them into making micro-purchases.

Adding value to the subscriber base
Here are six key reasons on the customer service front that can be useful for gaming providers looking to add value to their subscribers:

1. Advocates & Gamers as support agents

Hiring locally sourced seasoned gamers as support agents to boost engagement

Troubleshooting a mid-game issue can be annoying for players. So, when they approach customer service, they expect a quick fix to their issue. However, if they are forced to explain their problem to someone who doesn’t understand them, it can quickly add to their frustration. Having seasoned gamers and game advocates as support agents, allows players to communicate their issues in gaming lingo and receive empathetic experiences. It would reduce the customer’s effort and create an endearing relationship.

2. Multi-lingual support

Timely support in multiple languages that is active round the clock

Most games transcend geographical barriers and are played by people speaking different languages. While the instructions are usually available in multiple languages, it is also essential for gaming firms to offer timely support to gamers in their language. Also, it is vital to have a service team that is active 24/7, catering to customers from different time zones.

3. Support beyond traditional channels

Omnichannel support and in-game service options to enhance the gaming experience

While most PC gamers are technically skilled and like fixing their problems themselves by looking for support on the developer’s website or community forums, console game players usually prefer having quick and easy access to customer support without having to leave their games. This requires gaming firms to have omnichannel support that caters to the demands of their target audience across multiple touch-points. An omnichannel support strategy for gaming firms should go beyond traditional channels like email, chat, and call, to include in-game service options, active support on thriving gaming community forums, social media support, and mobile support to deliver exceptional player experiences.

4. AI-driven interactive player support

Automated interactive solutions such as virtual assistants to simplify interactions

While most customers prefer interacting with humans when they approach customer service, integrating virtual assistants across channels with support services has its benefits for gaming studios. Apart from helping provide prompt service to gamers, they can also bring down the operational cost while providing quick, round-the-clock access to support. A one-to-one real-time conversation that offers personalized attention to players can be quite useful in keeping the players engaged.

5. AI-driven player analytics

Relevant analytics to identify compelling insights about players

To keep their subscribers fascinated, gaming studios must keep pushing the fun factor in their games. This means, they constantly need to identify the gaps and improve the overall gaming experience, and AI-driven analytics is the ideal means to achieve it. Using player analytics, gaming studios can track the behavioral patterns of the players and use machine learning algorithms to spot emerging trends, which in turn can be utilized to improve game development and keep ahead of the competition.

6. Efficient Feedback Mechanism

Efficient feedback platform to tap player-reviews and opinions

5G operators using low-band spectrum vs mmWave: CSS

How are organizations handling 5G infrastructure challenges, globally? For instance, why are some operators opting for low-band 5G spectrum instead of the so-called mmWave technologies? Arun Kumar, VP – Network Solutions from CSS Corp., tells us more in an exlcusive chat. Excerpts:

V&D: Why are some operators opting for low-band 5G spectrum instead of the so-called mmWave technologies?

Arun Kumar: Opting for low-band spectrum enables communication operators to deploy 5G at a much larger footprint when compared to mmWave implementation. This band range is ideal in covering wide areas, both indoors and outdoors, with efficient connectivity and highly-reliable low latency communication networks.

Low-band 5G spectrum is an optimal and cost-effective option for service providers who are deploying greenfield networks. For instance, a network company based in the USA is currently building a virtualized 5G network from ground up that aims to provide both IoT connectivity and low-latency broadband service.

Since their network equipment is based on network functional virtualization (NFV), the opportunity for a lower cost deployment by implementing a low-band spectrum is significantly high. Additionally, the ability to create network slices brings in a new dimension of utilizing the same base hardware or setup, to create networks that are custom built for every situation (eMBB / eMTC / URLLC) thus, fueling cost efficiency.

V&D: It is that said despite 5G offering a significant increase in speed and bandwidth, its more limited range will require further infrastructure. How can this be overcome?

Arun Kumar: There are immense developments happening through 5G technology. However, the complexities that arise due to limited range is a significant challenge that is constantly being dealt with. To that end, service providers are working on overcoming this through a combination of measures:

* The providers are opting for non-standalone deployments (5G + 4G) that facilitates optimal coverage, while providing required data rates.

* The providers utilize the mmWave technology that enables them to offer focused area coverage and high data rates needed for the urban and city center areas.

* Alternatively, the service providers also opt for low-band options of deploying 5G to enable extensive coverage with the trade-off of lower data rates, but still significantly higher that 4G speeds.

V&D: How can 5G help industrial cases of ultra-low latency applications?

Arun Kumar: The ultra-low latency offered by 5G will power applications that are yet to be seen on mobile phones. With the processing power inching closer to the edge, we will see mobile phones and other modern appliances perform at whole new levels in terms of efficiency, quality and consistency. The following are some of the use-cases that 5G could transform in the coming years:

* Autonomous vehicles
* Logistic management (with high efficiency levels)
* AR/VR applications built for human safety in high risk environments like technicians working on towers or power lines.

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Geospatial data analytics: The way forward in analytics

Data analytics is one of the hottest trends in enterprises today. Companies are dependent on data analytics for a wide array of services and features which help the company achieve its goals faster and deliver utility to its customer in a timely manner. When conventional data analytics is powered with location and geospatial, it holistically takes care of the customer requirements. Geospatial technologies enhance the utility, functionality as well as the relevance of data analytics.

“Data Analytics provides a 360o view of customer segments and their needs. Organizations can foresee customer demands through predictive models and drive supply chains more effectively”, says Nishikant Nigam, EVP and Chief Delivery Officer, CSS Corp.

GIS tools have the unique ability to slice and dice terabytes of data in real time to derive decisive insights into understanding spatial trends and associations, adds Nigam.

There is a wide prospect of an increase in the use of spatial technologies. Geospatial data analytics is driving businesses and fostering innovation across different verticals. It also enriches the user by offering him a new perspective of data interaction by enabling users to recognize new patterns and connections, which can’t be showcased in traditional methods using graphs.

“Geospatial technologies enable a 3D view of business data through a map, the required spatial information can then be identified through latitude and longitudinal coordinates to extract demographic and customer information. This collaboration of tabulated data and locational data gives precise context by analyzing heterogeneous information available across complex system environments”, believes Nigam.

Faster decision-making

The use of geospatial in data analytics infuses fresh dynamism and assists companies and customers, but it also has an important application in streamlining decision-making. The first prerequisite for good decision-making is complete knowledge and awareness of data. Convergence of GIS and data analytics merges flexibility and foresight which is crucial for any company looking at exploring new markets and focusing on customer satisfaction. Location is a vital component of geospatial which unravels the complexities and provides new insights about current and emerging trends.

Data analytics has been increasingly leveraged to discover new markets, develop customer insights, create better customer experiences, streamline processes, and drive innovation. It has also become indispensable and provides businesses flexibility and foresight while charting future roadmaps, opines Nigam.

Nigam also concurs with the immense benefits that convergence of GIS and data analytics yield. He adds, “This convergence is of true value since it helps in locating valuable customers, predict purchasing decisions and patterns, mapping similar customers, evaluating success and failures of marketing campaigns, and the impact of weather on customer footfalls. When data insights are associated with location data, it can generate actionable insights, which can further be visualized to infer what and where to act on, while optimizing leadership efforts to take more informed decisions. “

 

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How advanced analytics-driven PLM can help you achieve more business value

Incorporating advanced analytics can help stakeholders to adapt new business opportunities and also reap many benefits from it.

What do P&G, Jaguar, Land Rover, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, or Rolls Royce have in common? Yes, they are all leading product companies of the world. But apart from that, they all vouch for the transformative power of having a cutting-edge product lifecycle management (PLM) approach in place to facilitate top-notch customer experience, boosts R&D, manufactures new goods, and fuels efficiency.

According to Forrester, by 2020, 85 percent of customers expect companies to automatically personalize deliverables and proactively take care of its needs. So, PLM is primarily about ensuring differentiated, superior customer experience by driving innovation, achieving faster time-to-market, delivering quality, while keeping costs in line.  While IoT (Internet of Things), AI, ML, NLP and other such innovative technologies offer real-time information, challenges (detecting failures, predicting loss, calculating correlations and prioritizing solutions with cost limits) remain.

Generate more value from data and enable insightful decision making

While organizations worry about the cost of new products and ROI, customers care about the product’s price/value ratio and quality. Advanced analytics can help both the stakeholders to adapt to new business opportunities. Incorporating advanced analytics into the process can reap many benefits: companies can fine-tune their market forecasts, predict failures and estimate downtime, creating more value for the business and their customers.

Road-blocks in product lifecycle management    

Executives managing the product development process must think through some critical decision-making points when strategizing for the digital future. A few of them are:

  • How to overcome constant technological disruptions to deliver customer experience that excels?
  • Which internal/external factors will influence the product’s performance?
  • How to leverage the available skill sets, technology and knowledge to drive organizational efficiencies through smarter operations?

Many companies still lack the arsenal of digital tools required for smooth functioning and must rely on guesswork or trial and error.

How does analytics come to the rescue?

Historically, organizations have long relied on traditional product development methodologies such as FMEA (failure mode and effect analysis), DOE (design of experiment), mean time between failure analysis and value stream analysis.
With ever-increasing volume of data coming in today, conventional technologies fall short and disruptions are widespread. But innovative companies know that data-driven insights play a role across all functions of the product lifecycle and strategize accordingly to maximize the value derived from the investment.

For example, Netflix’s sustained success comes as no surprise for companies that understand the value of leveraging advanced analytics, machine learning and algorithms to drive powerful customer conversations. Netflix has something that is more valuable than money: Contextual Information. Using this data, their recommendation algorithm suggests the most relevant content to its users based on their preferences. The resulting customer experience is exceptional.

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