How Artificial Intelligence can transform customer service

According to Forrester, 72% of businesses say that improving the customer experience is their top priority. A popular study from NewVoiceMedia says that companies lose more than $62 billion due to poor customer service.

Even with improvements in customer support technologies, most customers find it frustrating to get the right service in quick time from the customer support executives. High quality of customer service has become mandatory for companies, as today’s customers can take to the Internet to complain about service brands.

The use of AI technologies can transform the customer service operations, while reducing operation costs and meeting customer expectations. AI enables convergence of human-centric and machine centric intelligence resulting in improved business agility, operational excellence, resilience and bring about better customer service experiences. Google is pushing the use of cloud-based AI platforms for its customer service. According to Gartner, non-voice interactions in customer support is likely to rise from 55% in 2015 to 85% by the year 2020.

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“Is Work From Home (WFH) during Lockdown Productive?”

Most of the businesses have gone remote to help fight the spread of COVID-19, but there are still some who are worried about jumping onto the ‘work from home’ bandwagon. We have heard all the cons of remote work – employees don’t get any work done from home, meetings are ineffective and unproductive, it kills the work culture, and so on – it’s difficult to distinguish the actual fact from fiction. Many organizations switched to remote work mode early. While remote work has its challenges, most of them get solved when you focus on keeping your employees engaged.

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CSS Corp opens second delivery centre in Bengaluru

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 34,000 square feet new delivery center features 320 workstations and CSS Corp will be further expanding the facility with net addition of 12,000 square feet and 200 workstations.
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CSS Corp Divests Glow Networks to Altruist Group

Bengaluru: CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technology support company announced that it has divested Glow Networks to Altruist Technologies Private Limited, a multinational provider of telecom and business process optimization solutions.

The sale was concluded in March 2020. Glow Networks is a network design and deployment services company which was acquired by CSS Corp in 2010.

“Over the last decade, Glow Networks has been integral to CSS Corp’s strategy of providing end-to-end network solutions in complex technology environments. With the upcoming 5G revolution underway, we felt that Glow needed to align with a telecom solutions ecosystem to capitalize on this opportunity,” said Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer at CSS Corp.

“Altruist emerged as a suitable parent with its comprehensive suite of telecom products and services, coupled with its diverse geographical presence. We believe the synergies arising from this development augur very well for Glow’s business goals and for its customers,” added Tandon.

“With noteworthy telecom partnerships in more than fifty countries, Altruist’s acquisition of Glow Networks is a strategic step towards diversifying its portfolio. Altruist is a leading telecom-centered solutions provider to more than hundred operators globally,” said Dharamjeet Taunque, the newly appointed CEO for Glow Networks.

“With this acquisition, we aspire to forge our existing expertise in content services, platforms for value-added services, big data and billing, business assurance and enterprise solutions, with network design and 5G deployment capabilities. We have acquired Glow in its entirety; therefore, there is no impact on existing customer relationships or obligations,” he added

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can AI help telcos in creating new revenue streams?

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

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

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

What can be telcos’ digital strategy going forward?

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

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

How can AI help in automating the networks?

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

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

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

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

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

Are there any projections you can share for the same?

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

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

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

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

What revenue streams can telcos explore while leveraging emerging technologies?

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

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CSS Corp Wins ‘Outsource Partner of the Year 2020’ at Excellence in Customer Service Awards

CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technology support company, today announced that it has won the Outsource Partner of the year 2020 award by the Business Intelligence Group at their Excellence in Customer Service Awards. The company was named as the winner at Philadelphia on April 20, 2020.

CSS Corp was awarded for emerging as the premier outsourcing partner of the year. Over the last few years, CSS Corp has significantly enhanced its capabilities in the customer service and technical support landscape through differentiated business models and customer support transformation from an effort-led to an intelligence-led ecosystem. The company’s prowess in leveraging new age solutions has enabled it to consistently deliver business outcomes for its customers. Its digitally infused operations have enabled the company to stay nimble and adapt itself to the fast-evolving industry landscape. In the current Covid19 crisis, CSS Corp has been one of the first service providers to transition to a 100% productive Work-From-Home model with zero impact to SLAs, by leveraging its RESILIENCE framework

Speaking on the occasion, Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp said, “We are delighted to be recognized as the outsource partner of the year 2020 by the Business Intelligence Group. Over the past few years, CSS Corp has positioned itself as a leader in driving outcome focused CX transformation for our clients. We have been investing heavily in strengthening our capabilities as an end-to-end managed CX services provider and have emerged as a strategic partner of choice for global brands with our business transformation-themed services. In the services landscape, we understand that one size doesn’t fit all, hence we strive to engineer customized, but scalable solutions that fit within our clients’ business environments. This award is a testament to our continued pursuit of service excellence driven by our values of customer centricity, deep tech innovation and spirit of partnership with our customers.”

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Intelligent Automation Systems: The Birth of a New Era

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

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

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

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

Demand for Intelligent Automation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What one year of remote work has taught IT and energy sectors

On March 23, 2020, the Government of India ordered a nationwide lockdown for 21 days, limiting the movement of the nearly 138 crore population of India as a preventive measure against the emerging Covid-19 pandemic in India.

Subsequently, the corporate world scrambled to ensure its business and employees remained safe. The idea gave way to the rolling out of the work from home (WFH) policy across sectors. Following the same, ETHRWorld tried to assess India’s two prominent sectors that are responsible for the nation’s economic bulk on how they have fared in the remote work culture: IT and Energy.

IT making its way

Speaking of the initial challenges faced while managing various HR operations remotely, Satyanarayanan Visvanathan, SVP and Head – HR (Global) & Corporate Quality, CSS Corp, said the uncertainties caused by the pandemic, coupled with isolated working, had been difficult for many employees.

Accepting the change gracefully was the only effective way to move forward and IT service management company CSS Corp was able to transmit this equipoise across the organisation with its CHEER framework.

“Our CHEER framework (Communication, High-lighting accomplishments, Energising teams, Engagement with employees and Recognition of achievements), developed specifically for the Covid times, has been instrumental in driving high employee morale and positivity,” Visvanathan said.

For Chirag Doshi, Head of People, ThoughtWorks India, the initial challenge was figuring out how to make sound hiring decisions bereft of any in-person interactions.

“While remote interviews have been commonplace at ThoughtWorks for a few years already, before the pandemic, we usually ensured at least one in-person interaction for every candidate,” he said.

However, in 2020 the software company adapted to assessing candidates’ culture-fitment during the remote interviews.

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Contextualization is the new personalization: Sunil Mittal, CSS Corp

By Srikanth RP – Editor, Express Computer

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

We are moving towards a conversational economy where the voice is the new frontier. A few spoken words to a smart virtual assistant can help accomplish a seemingly complex business transaction. As AI technology is maturing, businesses are plugging in conversational AI in their strategic investment roadmaps to leverage it for their customer service function.

At CSS Corp, we have embarked on a new journey in AI to disrupt the customer experience ecosystem with a new model called ‘Conversational X’. Conversational X aims at simplifying and personalizing customer engagements through AI based voice platforms. We offer AI-based solutions that enable customers to have powerful, impactful conversations with brands and helps them with insights and a new radical vision to solve a challenge.

Our focus and investments in AI are helping enterprises adopt the right customer engagement and support strategy and move from traditional models to outcome-based service models that help them identify new revenue streams.

Let’s better understand the key tenets of Conversational [X] that can help enterprises and even SMBs to personalize customer interactions. A new era of customer experience has dawned upon us. Voice assistants and social messaging have given birth to the intelligent experience economy and made the customer experience more conversational than transactional. You can ask Apple’s voice assistant – Siri – to get you weather updates, find out and help you buy specific movies, play your favorite songs and a gamut of other specific activities.

For example, Amazon’s Alexa can help you perform several tasks like booking a doctor’s appointment; sports scores and game times; important event dates, hear the latest news; tracking traffic; manage calendars, to-do lists and shopping lists, set alarms and timers; read Kindle books and play audio books; make purchases; control smart home devices, etc. Many B2C businesses are using conversational intelligence with bots as a platform for offering customer support. We offer tech support services with this new conversational model that would field customers’ questions and get more real-time access to resolutions. This boosts overall business efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

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


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The clearer the CSO role, the easier to get budget approved: Mushtaq Ahmed, CSS Corp CSO Online

By Vaishnavi J Desai – Correspondent IDG Media
Indian enterprises aren’t new to the threat landscapes; but still seem to struggle with cyberattacks. The common knowledge would be to increase security budgets, increase the efficiency of infrastructure, etc. But the one role in the organization that can help navigate threat is that of a CISO/ CSO.

In an exclusive interaction with CSOonline.in, Mushtaq Ahmed, CIO and CSO, CSS Corp, talks about CISO’s biggest challenges in the IT industry, the role of a CISO in determining security budget and how to correct the IT strategy to combat increased threats.

What are a CISO’s biggest challenges in the IT industry today?

A recent IT security report shows that, only 38 percent global organizations affirm that they are ready to handle a sophisticated cyberattack. With teams lacking specialized cybersecurity professionals, and the ever-increasing landscape that cyber terrorists are covering under their belt every year – it has become a tough challenge for CISOs to keep their organizations safe.

To top that, the economies of cyber threat are becoming attractive for hackers who are increasingly finding newer ways and means for causing damage. Using sophisticated technologies, they are now shifting from volume-based to more target-specific attacks. Hackers use the weak points of a system (that they identify while performing reconnaissance), and exploit these areas to gain access, plant malware, launch remote attack, and cause disruption to the organizational security.

The boom of IoT devices today poses great security challenges as these devices are poorly managed and offer easy opening for attackers. Additionally, the attackers are using techniques such as sandboxing to be more successful and to evade detection by behavior analysis tools. A big challenge for the CISOs is thus to guide in the development of strong processes and mechanisms that can thwart such attacks.

Phishing, DDoS, and botnet are the most common attacks that do not spare even big brands like Netflix. The latest addition to the list of threats last year were Ransomware and WannaCry that targeted systems that were using outdated software and equipment. These threats make patches and regular updates a critical activity that CISOs need to track, apart from implementing practices such as regular training about procedures that employees need to follow to safeguard against the threats.

What is your organization’s cybersecurity challenge?

In today’s rapidly evolving landscape, at times one wonders if security is only a problem of IT alone, as it spans across the entire organization. However, at CSS Corp, we have aligned ourselves to lead and implement safeguards and tool-based protection against targeted phishing attacks (CXO fraud scams), SPAM, ransomware, and data leaks.

Another challenge (and focus) for us is to safeguard our data. There are multiple copies of data backups at off-site (datacenter, cloud) that if not checked, may prove vulnerable. For the same, we have to ensure protection against every access and entry point. To overcome the challenge of keeping our staff updated about the latest threats, we need to keep working on spreading periodic awareness by means of posters, wallpapers and through internal mailers.

What role should a CISO play while determining the security budget of an organization?

The earlier an attack is controlled (the kill phase), the easier it is to prevent an attack. Traditional signature-based defense mechanisms are not enough to defend against AI-powered attacks.

To ensure that the organization has the right technology and tools, as well as agility to thwart attack chains at every stage, CISOs need to regularly audit and update the investments being made in the security-related tools and processes. Organizations having a clearly defined role for CISOs make it easy for them to get approvals for the budget increases. For an organization to be secure from any cyber threats, investments are required to be made in technology, people, and policy and finally must have a process of enforcement.

In today’s scenario, investments need to be made in security analytics platforms and technologies with AI and ML capability that can detect evolving threats and prevent zero-day attacks. Some organizations may even plan for a contingency fund to handle potential financial loss due to cyber-attack.

Despite increased security budgets, the threats are on the rise. Where is the correction necessary?

For having the necessary curbs and controls on the rising threats, a continual risk assessment must be in place instead of a point-in-time assessment. There must be regular awareness campaigns regarding cybersecurity across the organizations, and identification of insider threats. The board members and senior management must be actively engaged in all activities pertaining to cybersecurity, and there must be a 360-degree visibility to infrastructure and supporting security framework. Having a robust and comprehensive access management and use of AI and ML tools strengthens an organization’s ability to detect a threat early in the attack chain.


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