Supercharged Technical Support: Augmented Reality with CSS Corp’s KYRA

In a new social distancing world, most traditional face-to-face customer service tasks have had to digitize quickly. This trend is not new, but for some processes, it required the adoption of emerging technology and different operational models. A prime example is customer premise visits by engineers for equipment installations, parts replacement, and technical support. For several years, CX services vendors have worked on visual support and remote diagnostics, and are now looking to Augmented Reality (AR) to lift technical support to the next level. CSS Corp has already developed its proprietary technology in the space and is now working on AR deployments.

KYRA: AR-enabled CX & enterprise support

CSS Corp sees AR-enabled CX and support across three use cases:

Visual self-service, where the AR provides visual guidance to users on product features and interactive how-to user manuals
AR integrated virtual assistant, which automates the user engagement with intelligent bots using AR projections and overlay
Remote agent assistance to resolve user issues from a distance with AR markers and overlays.
The company has a pilot of AR visual self-service for a U.S. multinational telecom equipment manufacturer with products in the fixed, wireless, and IP technology space. The AR has step-by-step visual user guides and in-depth installation manuals, component descriptions, component usage instructions, and remote visual troubleshooting. The implementation has an integrated virtual assistant.

The user or field engineer scans a QR code on the packaging leading to the AR support web page downloading an app on their smartphone. She or he then asks the bot for a virtual user guide. The customer focuses their mobile camera on the equipment or error message, and the AR support interface identifies the product model and downloads the correct user guides and knowledge articles. It displays the components and narrates within the AR environment. The virtual assistant explains how to set up and use the components using animations and AR markers. In addition to the spoken and written instructions, it allows image scrolling and freezing and control with voice. The bot then reads the device screen to determine if the installation is successful and guides the user to enter configuration commands.

If the initial installation fails, the computer vision identifies the error message, and the bot starts interacting with the user via chat or messenger to troubleshoot the issue and guide the self-service steps within the AR. If the issue still cannot be resolved, the bot escalates to a live agent who initiates a secure AR session on the support app by sending a link. The transfer displays to the agent the transcript and completed steps and auto-creates a ticket and case history in the client CRM.

For the client, the initial results of the pilot in 2020 show 23% faster issue resolutions for AR supported interactions and 38% AHT reduction with the automation. For 20% of the volumes, the realized end-to-end automation efficiencies reached 94%.

Challenges to the spread of AR

Historically, AR adoption for remote collaboration stumbled due to a lack of high network bandwidth and speed. The proliferation of fiber optic broadband and the rollout of 5G will eventually resolve this challenge. In the meantime, CSS Corp’s KYRA uses cloud-based lightweight AR technology.

Another common concern for all two-way video chat remains security and privacy protection. CSS Corp addresses this issue by masking to the live agent all sensitive user information such as passwords and blurring outside objects. It also ensures that the tools are PCI DSS compliant.

Lastly, customers are often reluctant to download another app, and its usage sharply decreases after the initial setup. Here, CSS Corp works with clients to offer additional incentives and features in the app to drive regular user engagement. It also provides the SMS/email links to user, to start the remote assistance with the agent.

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How Tech Companies Are Championing the Cause of People with Disabilities

“With over a billion people (about 15 per cent of the world’s population) having some form of disability, according to WHO, it becomes important for tech companies to create their products with accessibility features in mind. Every industry has far reaching applications of technologies like automation, IoT, AI, augmented & virtual reality, and smart analytics. Complying to ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) standards, online portals and websites have to be accessible for visually challenged community, and this is where assistive technologies such as screen reader helps to read information on the browsers such as text, images, control elements, audio and video files. The screen reader translates the content and is made audible for the visually challenged people. CSS Corp has developed an automated solution for handling accessibility testing, which has been applied for a leading American cosmetic brand with about 4000 pages on its site. The solution is integrated with speech to text engine for comparing the detected content with the displayed content. The solution leverages technology to help business do the right thing the first time, avoid legal risks of inaccessibility and thereby achieve inclusive customer base. It also helps to improve testing coverage to 100% and reduces the cost of testing by over 70%. Further, the solution has a module that helps to identify the poor contrast regions using computer vision algorithms.” – Dr. Kiran Marri, Chief Scientist & Vice President, Digital Engineering at CSS Corp.

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CSS Corp launches third delivery center in BGC

Information technology services and tech support solutions firm CSS Corp. launched its third delivery center in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), which is expected to increase its annual revenue by $10 million. In a statement on Tuesday, CSS Corp. said the new office in Asia Century Center (ACC) will employ 500 new talents that will further drive the company’s workforce growth. “The recent growth that the company has experienced is only a testament that there are more opportunities for us in the region and it strengthened our plans to expand in the country in the coming years,” said Arvind Appavu, country head of CSS Corp. Philippines. The new office will provide services to various industries such as high-tech verticals, internet service providers, original equipment manufacturers, and telecommunications companies based in America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Australia. The company also provided the new office space a 50-seater training facility, an outdoor area for relaxation, an arcade game room, and a meditation room. “The amenities we have included in our state-of-the-art office facility will not only ensure the productivity of our employees but will also provide them an environment where they can constantly hone their skills, boost their careers and maintain their mental, physical and emotional well-being,” Appavu said.

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Is It Possible To Become A Successful Self-taught Data Scientist?


We may be living unique lives, but there are a few common experiences that tie most of us together. While the instinctive response seems to be what the Covid-19 pandemic has left in its trail, a less grim example would be the chain of events that mark a few decades of our lives – school -> college -> job

While most of these remain unchanged, there has been a growing clamour to rethink education systems as we know it; to one, that both shields learners from the negative effects of new technologies in the workplace, as well as reskills them to prepare for new cross-functional roles that will inevitably be created as a result.

While one way of addressing this talent and labour market issue would be to enrol and improve the quality of education, upskilling in silo would be a more efficient way of achieving this without burdening the formal education system across the world.

Tied to lifelong learning, upskilling through relevant certification is increasingly becoming an accepted norm. But the field of data science is faced with a critical question – can its vast universe be merely acquired through self-study?

Hiring Trends In Data Science

While there seems to be advocates of both formal and informal education in the data science community, what does the general hiring landscape suggest?

While IT services company CSS Corp places an ‘inestimable value’ on a formal academic background, LinkedIn admittedly hires candidates based on skill sets alone, and not necessarily on their educational background.

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Companies honoring annual increments and performance bonuses during COVID-19

While COVID-19 surely paved the way for sustained ‘working from home’ measures across the globe, the pandemic also has been responsible for multiple unfortunate lay-offs, pay-cuts and unpaid leaves across organisations. The annual season for appraisals has understandably been lack-luster for most parts, but few organisations have not broken tradition and honored annual increments and performance bonuses despite the COVID-19 challenges.

Here’s a list of organisations that have given their employees performance bonuses, delivered on their commitment for new hires or ensured timely salary remittance:

1. Nayara Energy
At Nayara Energy, achieving results and caring for people are integral aspects for their culture. Given the immensity of the COVID 19 pandemic, Nayara Energy remains committed to honouring all employment offers that were made. In fact, new employees joining the company in the midst of the lockdown period were facilitated virtual induction to equip them with the business as well as with their functional teams. The company also expanded employee benefits such as covering COVID-19 under insurance, seamlessly moved parts of their operations to work from home, enabled remote working through accelerated skill building, and continue to ensure timely salary remittances to all. In recognition of the continued efforts by our employees, the annual performance linked incentives were also paid out to all eligible employees.

2. CSS Corp
CSS Corp has rolled out high single digit annual increments for its employees for FY21. Apart from this, variable pay for FY20 has also been given. At the lower bands, which constitute 70% of the workforce, the variable payout was 100% and at higher levels where metrics are a little more stringent, the payout was around 80%. We have also handed out promotions to all eligible employees. Apart from this, we have given an additional incentive for those employees who played a critical role in helping CSS Corp transition to a 100% productive WFH model early in the cycle in March itself. We call them our COVID heroes. We believe, in these times it is a great opportunity for organisations to lead with empathy and take care of their employees’ interests and these decisions will help add certainty in uncertain times. From a hiring perspective, we are targeting an addition of 1,000 employees this quarter. We ended Q4 FY20 at around 7,000 employees, so that makes it a net headcount addition of almost 15% this quarter.

3. BSH
In these uncertain times, BSH is doing everything they can to help to keep the morale of all their employees high and give them a sense of security. BSH is probably one of the only organisations in the industry that has given an increment instead of salary cuts or job cuts. In a bid to manage fixed costs in this period, while they have cut down on marketing and travel costs and put a freeze on future hiring, they have made sure to not cut down salaries or stop promotions since they believe that retaining the best manpower at any cost in testing times is the strength of their organisation. As per appraisal cycle, all staff of BSH India got their increased salaries and promotions for previous year’s performance by March 31. About 1000 sales consultants, on third party payroll are being paid full salaries along with sanitary facilities for their safety. BSH also recently introduced a new insurance policy inclusive of COVID-19 for all employees.

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IT Leaders Pledge for a Better India This Independence Day

“This Independence Day brings with it, the inspiration to accept the new normal and proactively lay out strategies to adapt to these unprecedented times. For CSS Corp, employee-centricity has been a core guiding philosophy. When the pandemic struck, we were among the few IT services providers that rolled out annual hikes in April along with variable pay and promotions. We were also committed to hiring and onboarded 1,200 new employees in Q1FY21. From a future standpoint, our customers and prospects globally are looking to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives and there is a tremendous opportunity to partner them with compelling value propositions that would enable them to provide unparalleled customer experiences to their end-consumers. It will also be imperative to reinvent employee engagement and operational models, and set the organization up for the future of work. We were among the first in the industry to move to a 100% WFH model in March. As part of our plans to thrive in the upcoming times, we will soon be launching a comprehensive virtual operations platform which will simulate the office environment in a ‘Work from Anywhere model’, and enable secure and seamless remote operations globally.” – Sunil Mittal, EVP, CSS Corp

The Independence Day could be an opportunity for the IT industry to evaluate new ways of responding to the ongoing situation and preparing for the future. Accelerated adoption of technology and sound workplace policies, coupled with a strong vision and leadership will help companies in remaining connected with their customers, employees and the larger business ecosystem in these challenging times.

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How ITeS firms in India are reskilling for the cloud

For many workers, their homes have become their offices and all enterprise applications are now accessed remotely, driving IT companies across India to face up to an unprecedented level of cloud adoption.

Cloud adoption in enterprises has hit new heights during the pandemic as it has become the catalyst for digital transformation. Many organizations have moved towards remote working in response to COVID-19, making the cloud an immediate priority rather than a future project. That’s led to a need for internal reskilling and upskilling of teams. Cloud has enabled IT staff to be frontline supporters as it eliminates the complexities of a hardware-based IT infrastructure.

ComputerWorld takes a look at the cloud skills in demand across India, and how IT/ITes companies are going about reskilling and upskilling the workforce.

Cloud skills in demand
Some businesses are looking for cloud expertise in a narrow field; others want it across the board. We took a small but representative sample of what’s hot at tech companies operating in India.

India’s highest paying tech jobs and the skills that rake in the big bucks
For Sandeep Soni at data protection service provider Clumio, the needs are technical. Soni, the GM and VP of Engineering for the company’s Indian operations based in Bengaluru, says a basic understanding of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in cloud development and serverless applications is the most important skill for a developer these days.

There’s a big difference between database programming for the cloud and on-premises, he says: “Engineers need to have cloud automation skills to build, test, deploy, and manage especially when there are rapid releases. Devops is another important skill that is needed. A good cloud developer needs to enable a smooth running of a software (in the cloud) for operations.”

At business process management specialist Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS), CIO Natarajan Radhakrishnan is looking for cloud skills across the board. The company is in the business of helping its customers migrate to the cloud, provide managed services, and also develop cloud-native applications, he says: “For us, the most sought-after cloud skills are sales, migration, application development, and administrative skills.”

Meanwhile, at software consultancy ThoughtWorks, capability development lead Jaydeep Chakrabarty says the latest technology trend becomes the new skill shortage for any organization. Currently, he sees the most in-demand cloud skills as cloud security, serverless architecture such as Google Cloud Platform or AWS, and ML and AI in the cloud.

Automation skills are among those in demand at CSS Corp., according to Phanikishore Burre, SVP and delivery head for network, cloud, infrastructure and security services. He sees a need for cloud skills in a number of roles, including administrator, devops, and security. Hands-on experience on Linux and Windows is important, he says, as are coding chops in Python, knowledge of automation platforms such as Ansible or Jenkins, and familiarity with Kubernetes and other container technologies, databases, and serverless and multi-cloud computing.

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