August

In a world where machines and AI rule, re-skilling is the only way out

Gartner says more than 3 million workers across the world will have a ‘robo boss’ by 2018. High time businesses reorient skill development programs to help mid-level managers stay relevant.

In July, the Vodafone-Idea merger was approved by the Competition Commission of India (CCI). The mega deal will make the shareholders of both companies become part of the largest telecom company in India, and reward them in the future. It will also create a situation that can quickly escalate into a nightmare.

As many as 6,000 senior-level leaders will have overlapping roles in the new entity. Industry sources say at least 50 percent of these will have to be let go and will be “not employable”. These individuals, who have put in at least 20 years of work in various roles within the organisation, have not been trained to keep pace with the digital era. But turning unemployable at the age of 45 is scary.

Nishikant Nigam, EVP & Chief Delivery Officer, at CSS Corp, an IT Services company, says: “In this context, the mid-level management, the future leader/CXOs, in organisations also need to evolve and reinvent as traditional roles and structures come under increasing strain.

India’s IT workforce comprises roughly 1.4 million mid-level managers, and they are finding themselves at the centre of reskilling and restructuring conversations across organisations.

NASSCOM believes the IT industry’s current reskilling focus is on emerging technologies like Big Data, Analytics, Cloud, IoT, Mobility, and Design Thinking, while also investing in emerging skills like Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Artificial Intelligence, DevOps, Robotic Process Automation, and Cybersecurity.

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Cloud: A silver lining for businesses amidst pandemic

“We have been witnessing a mixed trend in cloud adoption depending on the health of different sectors. While telecom and healthcare companies have significantly increased cloud solutions adoption, the IT & ITES and the BFSI segments have maintained their spend. However, we have witnessed a slight decline in cloud spends by the retail and manufacturing industries, who were heavily affected by the pandemic. As forecast by IDC, as a result of the pandemic, 64% of the organizations in India are expected to increase demand for cloud computing and 56% for cloud software. We witnessed an increased market demand in hybrid cloud migration models, especially in the healthcare sector.”

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After years of flat revenues, CSS Corp expects 15% growth: Manish Tandon

CSS Corp is open to acquiring firms with a ticket size of around $50-60 mn to support organic growth

Chennai-based information technology (IT) services firm  has clocked around three per cent growth in the past two quarters and is expecting the same rate of growth every quarter from now on, said CEO 

Tandon, the former executive vice-president of Infosys, had joined the  services firm almost a year back when the company’s revenue growth was flat.

In the past couple of years, had been seeing flat revenues. Furthermore, towards the start of financial year (FY) 2017-18, NASSCOM projected the slowest growth rate for the  industry in nearly a decade at seven-eight per cent. In this testing environment, has started clocking a q-o-q (quarter-on-quarter) topline growth rate of three per cent in the past two quarters,” said Tandon.

We are also confident that our innovation-led strategy will continue to yield consistent topline growth beyond FY 2018,” he added. The company is expecting a 14-15 per cent revenue growth during FY’18.
Tandon said that the strategy has been to stick to profitable growth through active discussions with customers regarding their requirements. The company has been profitable in the past too, but the revenue was almost flat. The company will continue to focus on the US, apart from its business in Europe and the Asia-Pacific.

My vision is to create a new-age company,” Tandon explained. The company is working on the latest technologies and has come out with an artificial intelligence platform, called Cognitive CX Platform, to support its customers.

The company is also open to acquiring in the ticket size of around $50-60 million to support organic growth. would look at adding more people, cloud, and infrastructure capabilities through the inorganic route. A private equity firm owns the majority stake in the company, which can either raise funds from the owners or look at other options for funding.

In 2016-17, the company earned $150 million in revenue. expects this figure to go up by around 15 per cent this year.

In 2013, Switzerland-based investment manager Partners Group had picked up the majority stake in for around $270 million, according to reports. Through this deal, SAIF Partners, Goldman Sachs, and Sierra Ventures made their exit from the company.

Preview: Business Standard

CSS Corp trains over 1,000 needful youth in partnership with ICT Academy

CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technology support company, in partnership with ICT Academy, has trained over 1,000 youth in the past one year on employability skills. This program was part of an initiative started in March 2019. As a part of this initiative, CSS Corp held an extensive training program to skill the youth of rural, urban and low-income family groups in Tamil Nadu on the latest technology and soft skills that helped them to be employable in leading IT companies across the nation. As a result, out of the total trained candidates, close to 700 students have received offer letters from reputed IT/ITeS companies in the country.

The training programs were conducted in 20 colleges across Tamil Nadu that provided 100 hours of intensive activity-based training in soft and technical support skills for over 1000 final year graduating students from engineering, arts and science colleges located in the rural and sub-urban areas of the state.

The students were mentored by CSS Corp employees with mock interviews and group discussions. Moreover, a special focus was on encouraging women participation, in line with CSS Corp’s objective to empower women in the technology sector, which helped secure close to 600 female participants (of the 1000 plus) in the program.

CSS Corp has signed another MOU with ICT Academy towards training a fresh batch of 1,200 students in the states of Tamil Nadu & Karnataka this year. Training will be based on soft skills, tech support skills and emerging technologies (Angular, JavaScript Development Suite, RPA, Selenium 3.0 and SQL database).

Speaking about the initiative, Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp said, “India has a large workforce with skills that need to be honed and upgraded with changing times. With the pandemic looming over us, the globe is witnessing a paradigm shift in the way businesses work. It goes without saying that the need of the hour is for the youth to be trained and skilled across a plethora of disruptive technologies to bend the curve. CSS Corp’s initiative introduces students to skills beyond their regular curriculum and ensures their holistic development across a wide paradigm, enabling them to seek opportunities and truly make their mark in fields of their choice. Each student that has been trained by this program will have the opportunity to showcase their abilities, learn, grow and stay relevant amidst the changes taking place.”

M Sivakumar, Chief Executive Officer, ICT Academy said “Skill development is critical for economic growth and social development. The country presently faces a dual challenge of severe paucity of highly trained, quality labour, as well as non-employability of large sections of the educated workforce that possess little or no job skills. The skill development issue in India is thus pertinent both at the demand and supply level. To meet the supply side challenge, ICT Academy focuses on the skill development of youth as one of its core objectives. CSR is a proper channel to reach the underserved people of the society. The positive economic impact achieved by this initiative is huge and has improved the earning capabilities of not just 5,000 students but 5,000 families with most of them being first-generation employees.”

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CSS Corp wins Silver Stevie® in 2017 International Business Awards℠

CSS Corp, a new age IT services and technology support company, was named the winner of a Silver Stevie® Award in the Best New Product or Service of the Year – Software – Platform as a Service category at The 14th Annual International Business Awards 2017. CSS Corp has conferred the recognition for its proprietary Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform, Cognitive Customer Experience Platform.

Cognitive Customer Experience Platform is a highly personalized virtual assistant, which integrates with all customer channels like voice, email, chat, and website across devices, and offers context-driven, real-time support with a human-like interaction to resolve customers’ needs.

Speaking on the recognition, Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp said, “Winning Stevie International Business Awards is a milestone for CSS Corp. We are honored to be recognized as an industry leader in innovation. Automation and AI are becoming major game changers in the world of technology and business. At CSS Corp, we are leading this change by developing technology tools and platforms that give us a distinct advantage in delivering transformational results to our clients.

Sunil Mittal – EVP, Chief Sales, and Marketing Officer said, Our primary focus lies in building technology solutions that make a critical difference to our clients’ business while strengthening our technology pillar. Amongst CSS Corp’s many innovative solutions, Cognitive Customer Experience Platform stands tall, and to have been recognized as the Silver Stevie winner is indeed a great honor for us.

The International Business Awards are the world’s premier business awards program. All individuals and organizations worldwide – public and private, for-profit and non-profit, large and small – are eligible to submit nominations. The 2017 IBAs received entries from more than 60 nations and territories.

A record total of more than 3,900 nominations from organizations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were submitted this year for consideration in a wide range of categories, including Company of the Year, Marketing Campaign of the Year, Best New Product or Service of the Year, Startup of the Year, Corporate Social Responsibility Program of the Year, and Executive of the Year, among others. Stevie® Award winners were determined by the average scores of more than 200 executives worldwide who participated on 12 juries.

“The IBA judges from across the world were highly impressed with the nominations they reviewed this year. With the level of achievement documented in the nominations from 60 nations, the Stevie® Awards are proud to honor organizations that demonstrate a high level of achievement in a variety of industries” said Michael Gallagher, President, and Founder of the Stevie® Awards. “We look forward to sharing many of these stories with people around the world over the coming months, through the Stevie® Awards blog and social media channels, with the hope to inspire others to high achievement.

Details about The International Business Awards and the lists of Stevie® Award winners are available at www.StevieAwards.com/IBAAbout CSS Corp

CSS Corp is a new age IT Services and Technology Support company. The company harnesses the power of automation, analytics, cloud and digital to address specific customer needs. The company partners with leading enterprises to help realize their strategic business outcomes. The company’s team of 5,500 technology professionals across 16 global locations are passionate about helping customers.

For more information please visit www.csscorp.com

About the Stevie Awards
Stevie Awards are conferred in seven programs: the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards, the German Stevie Awards, The American Business Awards, The International Business Awards, the Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the Stevie Awards for Great Employers and the Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service. Stevie Awards competitions receive more than 10,000 nominations each year from organizations in more than 60 nations. Honoring organizations of all types and sizes and the people behind them, the Stevies recognize outstanding performances in the workplace worldwide. Learn more about the Stevie Awards at www.StevieAwards.com.

Preview: Business Line

Leveraging Human Intelligence & Automation To Drive Business Outcomes Of Choice

The human brain is known to rely on heterogeneous data associations to enable computational functions. Looking at a granular level, the brain is seen as a control center, and with every lobe comprising billions of cells work together to ensure what is perceived is conceptualized into thoughts and translated into actions. While the left lobe is analytical and responsible for linear thinking, the right lobe is more into creativity and intuition. The memory is a data bank that is leveraged for references, context and tasks that needs instructions. The peripheral nervous system generates a degree of forces through sensory signals for the required external stimuli.

Human brain categorizes tasks based on the degree of imagination and cognitive activity, as represented below.

A screenshot of a cell phone Description automatically generated

The only way humans can liberate themselves from routine tasks and free up time for strategic decision making and innovation is through technology intervention. Automation is a way of applying technology on a task to make it more efficiently executed, enable faster processing of voluminous tasks, reducing turnaround time, and improving the ROI. It is an ideal way to improve operational performance and can also be a strategic lever to sustain a competitive edge. Automating redundant activities by following standard operating procedures can save cost, time, improve workflow efficiencies, thereby reducing human error and increasing accuracy. It also allows employees to take up more challenging activities that can expand their intellect and imagination, leading to better competency and deeper job satisfaction levels.

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Chai Break with Sunil Mittal

Sunil Mittal, EVP & CSMO

 

What makes a good marketer?

“The Times they are a Changin’ “, sang Bob Dylan back in 1964. That’s the reality we find ourselves in today across all spheres. Marketing certainly is one of the areas that has evolved very significantly. So, for starters, good marketers need to be perpetual learners to stay in sync with the times. A good marketer needs to keep in touch with new approaches and technologies that enable marketing. They must also keep themselves updated with the latest trends in their industry or business. This knowledge translates itself into thought leading and impactful go-to-market strategies and messages.

Marketing is usually deemed a success when we hit the right person at the most opportune time with the most appropriate message through a channel that the person prefers. To achieve this in today’s world, a good marketer needs to be analytically inclined and data driven. Today we have new age automation technologies that can unleash intelligent insights about prospect/customer sentiments and buying behaviors that drive business success. Furthermore, there is a slew of market and social intelligence that enables marketers to drive messaging that is extremely relevant to prospects. A smart marketer must be able to assimilate this information and consumer data from various sources, apply tools and crunch data to be able to carry out personalized marketing efforts. These analytical traits and number driven orientation also enable the marketer to be able to track ROI and performance, especially in areas like digital marketing and for measuring campaign efficacy.

I feel that the CMO function today is more strategically critical than it has ever been. Good marketers have the opportunity to create solid business impact for their organizations.

How does one sustain their brand image?

Consistency and competitive differentiation are the most important factors for sustaining brand image. It is very important to have a consistent messaging around the brand across various channels used to build the brand image. Be it social media platforms, public relations, analyst relations, marketing and branding campaigns, advertising or content marketing, a consistent and differentiated message across all platforms is the key. Furthermore, marketers should avoid the “Me Too” tendency by focusing on unique differentiating factors.

It is also important to understand the perspective and contribution of various stakeholders in business to develop the right brand image and sustain it. Stakeholders could be investors, customers, partners, vendors and even employees. All these stakeholders are brand ambassadors and advocates of the organization. By engaging meaningfully and strategically with these stakeholders, a brand identity gets cemented over a period of time.

Where do you think Marketing is headed?

It’s an incredible time for brands to deliver personalized customer experience by embracing technology.
In yesteryears, scale was the key but personalization wasn’t. Marketers often followed large-scale ‘spray and pray’ models. This carpet bombing approach does not work in today’s times. Marketing today is about providing a contextualized and personalized omni-channel experience in both B2B and B2C contexts. It’s the age of customization and about being relevant.

Today, marketing also acts as a catalyst for growth by empowering organizations to drive context driven customer engagements. Marketing is well positioned to drive competitive differentiation based on a deep knowledge of the target audience and the customer.

Marketing, if leveraged properly can bring to the table, strong understanding of the customer’s decision and experience journeys. This insight is essential to develop the right value proposition that resonates with the market, as well as to develop the right solutions that solve critical business problems. Furthermore, digitization of the customer decision journey has made it possible to be able to personalize and better engage with the customer leading to better buying decisions which ultimately translate into better revenue conversion. Persona based marketing, UX, Augmented Reality all are becoming a complex reality in a world that is going digital.

Marketing will continue to be increasingly digital and break out from the traditional push based approach to pull based and inbound approach. Technology that drives the connected world today has emerged as a disrupting factor in the CMO’s world. In fact, some accounts have even suggested that in the longer run, the CMO might be a greater consumer of technology than even the CIO. Hence, we have exciting days lined up for marketers and marketing.

Based on these insights, marketers should enable businesses to dramatically improve customer experience by offering targeted and personalized solutions to their potential customers, and providing proactive recommendations.

Do social media channels really help marketers?

It is important to leverage social media in the right way and have right expectations from it. Many people look for tangible leads and outcomes from social and tend to write it off when they don’t see directly attributable ROI. However, we need to move beyond such perceptions. Social channels provide a platform for brands to actively communicate the companies message. This percolates downstream to employees, customers and prospects, vendors, suppliers and to the wider public. In the B2C world, social engagement gives a provider valuable insights about consumer behavior and the consumer’s next best action. This is important to be able to drive better revenue conversion. In the B2B world, social engagement helps in influencing buying decisions. Social should be used here as a means to drive sincere engagement with influencers through a two-way engagement. There are tools that can track the efficiency of our social media engagements, thus, must be leveraged wherever possible.

A technology you foresee as being useful to a Marketer of the future?

Marketing automation and Account based marketing (ABM) tools have already penetrated in most of the mature organizations and are shaping the marketing function. But, amidst automation coming into play, personalization is somewhere getting lost. I see increased usage of AI in marketing in the near future which will help keep it automated but yet personalized.

About Sunil Mittal

Sunil has over 18 years of IT industry experience across multiple horizontals and geographies. He has a spectacular track record of developing new markets, winning new logos, partnering with clients, creating & winning advisor led deals and building teams & businesses. His experience in setting up sales processes with special focus on “Social Selling” is second to none.

As the CSMO at CSS Corp, Sunil is responsible for driving business growth focusing on IT Services, Technology Support Services, Application Services & Infrastructure Management Services. He provides strategic leadership to the Sales, Account Management, Marketing, Solutions Engineering, Deal Advisory, Inside Sales, Alliances and Bid Management teams.

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How conversational AI is driving the next generation customer experience, powered by chatbots and assistants

With a new era of artificial intelligence (AI) dawning upon us, it’s an incredible time for customer experience, with humongous benefits to the customer and ultrafast customer service. As AI technology matures, forward-thinking enterprises 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 ten years.

Over the last several decades, customer service and customer experience had been all about customers seeking help from call centers, websites, emails, applications, and so on. However, in the last couple of years, the way we interact with technology has changed incredibly, and the good old days of mouse-icon-click are now ending.

NLP-infused chatbots and intelligent assistants: Futuristic sci-fi or current reality?

With the explosion of smartphone usage in the last decade, it can be conjectured that voice search has introduced AI-based personal assistance, and has given rise to the meteoric growth of bots among consumers.

Today, whether it’s a digital personal assistant on your smartphone or a chatbot on your Facebook Messenger, conversational AI is a trend for digitally empowered consumers. According to a survey by MindMeld, a US-based provider of intelligent conversational voice interfaces, 55 percent of users who use voice assistants, use them on a daily or weekly basis.

Today, bots are not just being looked upon as personal assistants; brands that want to turbocharge their customer experience and engagement are increasingly adopting NLP-infused chatbots. These offer a conversational experience between the customer and the brand, bypassing the tedious path of emailing or dialing up the customer service department. The chatbot uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology to ask questions or give answers to customers and make them feel understood in real time, thereby effectively improving the customer assistance process.

To the brands, these NLP infused chatbots provide business intelligence about customers’ preferences, opinions, purchase behavior and human sentiments, in general. With their proven efficiency in handling customer questions without human intervention, it helps brands with huge cost and time saving. NLP technology infused in chatbots addresses the growing needs of digitally empowered consumers with 24×7 assistance. Chatbots never sleep and do not keep you waiting for resolution.

AI-powered bots are redefining customer experience

At the heart of our omnichannel operating ecosystem is the idea of instant gratification. With an average attention span less than that of a goldfish (8.25 seconds), customers get real-time solutions to their challenges or questions from AI-powered bots via a messenger platform like Facebook. 2016 has proved that bots are here to stay and they have made a bigger impact on customer service in the first half of 2017 too. Gartner predicts that an average person will have more conversations with bots than with their own spouse!

Facebook recently introduced a chatbot application in partnership with 1-800-FLOWERS, where consumers could speak to a virtual agent via a Facebook Messenger window and order flowers. The interesting thing to note here is that the bot will detect conversational cues to recommend arrangements that address customers’ preferences and needs. Clearly, this is a win for customer service as well as the brand.

Advantages of Conversational AI

Advances in artificial intelligence have led to the emergence of sophisticated conversational capabilities and enabled machines in taming one of the most important aspects for intelligent interactions – context. Though chatbots and virtual assistants can rarely pass as human conversationalists, here are some of the potential business benefits that conversational AI can offer:

Reduced Cost: A recent BI Intelligence report suggests that businesses can cut labour cost by 29 percent when chatbots and other AI are deployed. Though complete automation is not feasible, automating a percentage of customer services and sales positions can result in significant savings.

Improved customer experience: AI reaches a wider audience and stores critical data points that companies can leverage to personalise the offerings and the buying experience of the digitally empowered customers. AI also helps brands optimise their product development with improved customer intelligence, which in turn delivers a delightful customer experience.

Greater consistency due to reduced human assistance: Until the arrival of AI, we had been largely depending on human efforts to produce goods or services of varying quality. This used to be a time-consuming and labor-intensive affair. With AI revolutionising all walks of business and life, consumers aspire to seamlessly interact with multiple apps rather than multiple layers of real human assistants, thereby leading to reduced reliance on human assistance.

Conclusion

Customer Experience is the next competitive battleground. Businesses are adopting new age technologies and are relentlessly reinventing themselves to stay ahead of the race. With advancements in speech recognition and NLP, conversational AI has become the new frontier that is truly transforming customer engagement, making it much more unified and collaborative. However, intelligent assistants are still perceived to be deficient in “social” intelligence, rendering them utilitarian and impersonal.

Nevertheless, the incredible uses and profitable ways in which bots can be used show strong indications that they are here to stay and evolve into more intelligent agents that revolutionise customer experience in more meaningful ways.

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CSS Corp wins Silver Stevie® Award for its COVID response

CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technology support company, today announced that it has won the Silver Stevie® Award in the ‘Most Valuable Employer – the Asia Pacific’, a COVID-19 response category in the fifth annual Stevie Awards for Great Employers.

CSS Corp bagged the award for prioritizing employee wellbeing and spearheading initiatives to ensure the holistic growth, development, and progress of its employees during this period of uncertainty.

The company rolled out annual increments, variable pay, and promotions in April 2020 for its global workforce of over 7,000 employees, spread across 18 global locations.

Additionally, advanced salary payments were made to support employees in the worst-hit geographies, along with additional incentives given to CSS Corp’s COVID heroes; the employees who worked round the clock on the business continuity plan.

Being one of the first movers in the industry to transition to a 100 per cent productive work from the home model at the onset of the lockdown, CSS Corp showcased resilience, determination, and fortitude that ensured seamless business continuity.

The company’s proprietary resilience framework – takes a three-pronged approach, which emphasizes preparedness, stabilization, and embracing the new normal.

Throughout this period, the company maintained complete transparency and communication with employees and consistently ensured their safety and wellbeing while factoring in their feedback through surveys.

This ensured that the company was able to adequately support and reassure all its employees. CSS Corp’s CHEER framework for employee engagement, employee assistance programs and dedicated 24/7 counselling support has been instrumental towards ensuring the mental wellbeing of employees while boosting their morale and rendering help wherever required. These initiatives have significantly reduced the attrition levels to all-time lows.

“At the onset of the pandemic, our immediate focus and attention shifted towards the safety and well-being of our employees. I was humbled to see how the employees responded with passion and collaboration towards the measures we introduced. This ensured we were able to not only maintain seamless business continuity for our clients but also do so with all employee interests taken care of. I believe organizations have a great opportunity to lead with empathy and provide certainty to their workforce during these unprecedented times. We are honoured to receive the Silver Stevie award and aim to continue leading, inspiring, and thriving in the new normal with the constant support and faith of our employees,” said Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp.

“In the fifth edition of the Stevie Awards for Great Employers, the judges were impressed by the Stevie winners who – during the crises we’ve confronted this year – continue to dedicate each day to make the lives of their employees and teams better through training, software, work-from-home plans, and more. We are pleased to celebrate them in 2020 and look forward to what they will accomplish in 2021,” said Maggie Gallagher, President of the Stevie Awards.

The Stevie Awards for Great Employers recognizes the world’s best employers and the human resources professionals, teams, achievements, and HR-related products and suppliers who help to create and drive great places to work.

More than 700 nominations from organizations of all sizes were submitted this year for consideration in a wide range of HR-related categories. Especially popular were six free-to-enter COVID-19 Response categories. More than 90 professionals worldwide participated in the judging process to select this year’s Stevie Award winners.

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