December

Here’s what Senior Director – SSQA and Corporate Quality at CSS Corp has to say about the evolving landscape for women in tech

The landscape for women in tech has taken a paradigm shift. The technology realm is being manifested with the latest innovation by women technologists. In our special series of covering such women in tech, we spoke to Bhuvaneswari Natarajan, Senior Director – SSQA and Corporate Quality at CSS Corp. Natarajan has two decades of experience in leading large software development and support and also has hands-on experience in implementing ITIL-based processes in large engagements.

In our conversations, we covered different dimensions of the workplaces for women professionals in the IT industry. Here’s what unfolded.

How has the workforce diversity landscape evolved in India in recent years?
Diversity and Inclusion have become integral towards fostering a workforce of the future. In the Indian scenario, this was initially perceived as varying gender, however, the understanding of the concept has evolved to encompass various other subsets. Diversity hiring has risen to 32% in 2020, from last year’s 23%, as per a report by Avtar Group. Organisations are integrating workplace diversity at the core of their organisational philosophy and are championing it through initiatives and policies to promote positive change. Conscious effort and commitment to promote a culture of diversity has resulted in organisations across sectors to reap tremendous benefits that directly impact business outcomes. Diverse and inclusive workplaces bring in different perspectives from employees because they are encouraged to be their real self, which in turn adds to the heterogeneity of the company and leads to higher creativity and innovation. Over the years this has created greater employee engagement, increased collaboration, and profits for companies, thus enabling their people to prosper.

What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?
The tech industry is evolving at an extraordinary pace, and during this rapid growth, there has been a significant increase in the percentage of women employees. The initiatives and support rendered by technology companies through mentorship programmes, peer training, reskilling and upskilling courses gives women in tech a platform to hone their abilities further as well as develop and grow within their roles. Research has shown that women are goal driven, empathetic and meticulous. The tech industry has a plethora of opportunities for women to explore, expand their horizons and succeed. Women are transforming the field with their innovative practices and disruptive thinking. Organisations are investing in equipping women with the skill sets and knowledge to take charge of their careers. It is indeed a great time to be a woman in tech.

There are few women at C-suite positions and top leadership. What are the most critical challenges organisations face while appointing a woman leader at the top position?
Organisations have constantly grappled with the challenge of ensuring a gender balance for C-Suite and top leadership positions. This situation emerged as few women were able to cross the hurdles encountered in the span of their career to grow and reach a position to be vested with leadership. You can divide a woman’s career graph into two segments: BC (Before Child) and AD (After Delivery). Many women take breaks to focus on their personal front, the prospect of them resuming their careers becomes a significant decision due to lack of a reliable support system. Also, women need a workplace that renders support through various stages of their career and enables them to take on as many personal and professional roles without any inhibitions. These shortcomings, both internal and external must be countered through practices that create a healthy and positive environment to empower women and enable them to shatter the glass ceiling and make a mark for themselves.

What are the most flourishing career choices for women tech aspirants?
There are infinite possibilities for women entering the burgeoning technology ecosystem. New-age and emerging technologies such as AI/ML, Cloud, DevOps, among others provide immense opportunities to learn, understand and deploy the power of technology. Moreover, women can make their mark and create a niche for themselves by propelling their learning, growth, and development forward. It is with sheer commitment, focus and perseverance that they can achieve their goals and excel in this / any field.

What is the best way to expand your professional network?
Networking and making professional connections are imperative for individuals to foster collaboration and growth within this dynamic industry. There are multitude of ways through which people can expand their professional network and create an impact across various fronts. Joining professional organisations such as Project Management Institute (PMI), and being a part of internal company events, as well as events organised by reputed industry bodies and companies are ways to build contact. Tapping on alumni networks through LinkedIn is yet another means to ensure that people are connecting with like-minded individuals to further their career and add to their learning significantly.

What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? What do you wish you had known?
My advice to any woman contemplating a career in the tech industry would be to be focused and goal-driven from the outset and chart out a career map with the milestones that they would like to achieve across their various roles and capacities. It is vital to positively affirm oneself and celebrate every achievement. Be hearty in approbation and lavish in praise. Always believe in yourself and follow your passion!

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Hybrid Work To Become the New Remote Work in 2021

Many companies are planning a new combination of remote and on-site working, giving rise to a hybrid work model in which employees can work from home, office, or anywhere.
“Although it’s contended that for developing nations like India, work-from-home may not be very effective because of the nature of occupations which are physical in nature for a majority of our workforce, I believe, the silver lining is that the IT/BPM industry which employs 4.4 million workers and contributes to 8% of the country’s GDP, is well positioned to leverage the work-from-anywhere approach using collaboration and cloud technologies. Many organizations have announced strategic plans to transition to a target proportion of remote workers over the next 3-5 years. The recent compliance relaxations by the center for OSPs provide further flexibility to create a hybrid work-from-anywhere model based on specific client and organizational imperatives. This augurs well for an accelerated operational transformation at organizations leveraging digital frameworks that factor in location-independent delivery while ensuring security and agility. The eventual percentage of remote workers for each organization would depend upon its specific needs and context.” – Vivian Gomes, SVP & Head of Marketing, CSS Corp

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A Conversational Economy Where Voice Is The New Frontier

A rapidly evolving global technology company, CSS Corp is a new age IT services and technology support company that harnesses the power of AI, automation, analytics, cloud and digital to address customer needs. A 5000+ headstrong company, it is spread across 16 global centers, serving over 140 clients, including Fortune 1000 companies. Acting as a catalyst for growth by enabling enterprises to transform from traditional models to new age service models, it is helping them identify new revenue streams.

Serving as EVP and Chief Delivery Officer at CSS Corp is Nishikant Nigam, who has over 20 years of rich IT experience in building & leading large IT services business across all service lines. He is well known for his unwavering client focus and understanding of enterprises and has built and coached many winning teams over the years. As a part of his role at CSS Corp, he is focused on strengthening its culture of client centricity. Prior to joining CSS Corp, Nishikant headed the Cloud and Infrastructure Management Services as the Vice President & Global Delivery Head at Infosys. In a candid chat with Analytics India Magazine, he speaks about how the company is focusing on AI, analytics, how they are leveraging it to improve customer experience, and more.

Would you like to tell us about CSS Corp and how is it focusing on automation, artificial intelligence, analytics and digital technologies to reimagine customer engagements?

Digital is increasingly changing the way products and services are delivered and consumed. Customers of tomorrow are exploring newer channels and expect personalized, proactive and even pre-emptive services. Companies across various industries are changing their sales and services strategies to attract and retain customers. In this context, businesses need to embrace adaptive and agile technologies to manage millennial expectations and growth.

CSS Corp is a new age services company that harnesses the power of AI, Automation, and Analytics to address specific customer engagement needs. Reimagining customer engagements through contextualization are the core of CSS Corp’s services vision. We strongly believe contextualization is the new personalization. And that’s the way forward.

Automation and analytics are an integral part of our service delivery organization that supports global customers in various strategic and modernization initiatives. We differentiate ourselves by contextual adoption of new age technologies to identify customer challenges, ambitions, and objectives. Our digital platforms like Active Insights (Smart Analytics) and Cognitive Customer Experience Platform (AI in Customer Support) with a strong focus on improving customer lifecycle management, transforms the way companies make decisions.

As an organization, we work closely with business decision makers who are responsible for the customer experience and revenue generation mandate. Increasingly, we see businesses are looking for new age models and solutions that generate superior experience and guaranteed business outcomes.

CSS Corp has invested significantly in technologies like AI, analytics and conversational commerce platform solutions. Would you like to highlight some of the major benefits that the company has reaped in with these investments?

As AI technology matures, forward-thinking enterprises are plugging in conversational artificial intelligence in their strategic investment roadmaps to leverage it for customer service function. In fact, it’s predicted that “Conversational AI-first” will supersede “cloud-first, mobile-first” as the most important, high-level imperative for the next 10 years. [Source: Gartner]

To fuel the growing needs and expectations of customers, CSS Corp has built Cognitive Customer Experience Platform, an AI platform with an omnichannel interface that promotes convergence of human intelligence with machine intelligence to deliver simple and personalized customer experiences.

Cognitive Customer Experience Platform aims at bringing together various technologies like AI, Automation and Analytics with pre-built vertical assets, 360-degree customer context, intelligent process guidance and actionable insights that enhance customer interactions. It 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.

Cognitive Customer Experience Platform can constantly learn from customer interactions and build on its ever-growing knowledge base. It remembers facts, learns from previous conversations and can access online information by integrating with enterprise systems. Its ability to troubleshoot, answer complex questions and engage in interactive dialog makes it a third-generation virtual assistant.

Cognitive Customer Experience Platform as a conversational AI solution helps an auto retailer in streamlining their customer engagement processes. It enables users to schedule appointments for auto maintenance and integrates with backend systems to check slot availability and book appointments. We are seeing other traction about Cognitive Customer Experience Platform applicability in various client discussions.

Today, Cognitive Customer Experience Platform is the nerve center of all 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 or 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.

All of us at CSS Corp is excited to explore new frontiers with Cognitive Customer Experience Platform that harnesses the power of customer centricity and builds an ecosystem that fuels unprecedented growth and innovation for our customers.

How are the company’s analytics solutions helping to deliver personalized experiences at every customer’s touch point?

At CSS Corp, we focus on delivering sustainable growth and value to our customers through advanced analytical models. Our advanced analytics models are based on the experience gained from supporting over 1 billion transactions for customers in the Telecom, Media and Technology (TMT) industry. These models are built on our Active Insights platform that promotes predictability, service and resource optimization and delivers value to our customers.

Active Insights, CSS Corp’s smart analytics solution provides insights into customer propensities, topics, issues and drives new revenue streams. Based on these insights, we enable businesses to dramatically improve customer experience by offering targeted and personalized solutions to their potential customers.

For instance, a large telecom company with millions of customers across the globe was losing customers due to lack of customer insights. To sustain the competitive edge, the customer decided to gain deeper insights about customer behavior, sentiments, and feedback from various channels. The customer also wanted to streamline their customer support function through analytics. CSS Corp helped them transform their customer support by analyzing customer experience within/across channels using survey analytics and logistic regression. We analyzed customer insights and behavior pattern leading to additional revenue through cross-sell/up-sell initiatives.

CSS Corp’s Analytics consulting framework assess organizations maturity level in decision science and continuously evaluates the effectiveness of operations against the business outcome. Our framework identifies key areas of improvements and provides recommendations to move from a reactive customer engagement model to a pre-emptive model. We understand the challenges customers face across different phases of customer life cycle management and identify underlying risks. We assess their maturity with the adoption of analytics and their ability to drive insights to help customers with crucial business decisions. Based on the assessment, a customized analytics strategy and a roadmap are created for organizations. We enable them to evolve from a transaction-oriented mind-set to relationship oriented thought process.

Digital, Analytics and Automation Services is one fastest growing business units at CSS Corp that is experiencing unprecedented growth and acceptance from our customers. Our analytics practice has attained a staggering growth of more than 100% in the last 12 months. Analytics is at the heart of our business strategy and having said that, we have also been recognized as a ‘Strong Performer’ in Customer Analytics services by Forrester.

How do you make use of analytical information and predictive/prescriptive models for better decision making?

Companies that deliver seamless experiences tend to retain their customers, get more incremental purchases from their customers, and generate additional revenues. To achieve this, companies need to invest in AI and advanced analytics solutions to surface new patterns and predict new contexts to influence customer purchasing decisions.

CSS Corp’s Active Insights platform applies advanced predictive models to each stage of the customer lifecycle, understands customer’s intent and proactively hits the target with the right recommendations and remediation.

The platform connects to multiple data sources including structured, unstructured, semi-structured, social media and sensor data. It analyses and predicts data in real-time, high velocity, low latency, and batch processing modes. Active Insights unleashes intelligent insights about customer sentiments, buying behaviors and satisfaction scores that drive business success. The solution aggregates customer interaction data from various touchpoints, converts that into recognizable patterns and recommends actionable insights resulting in faster issue resolution.

For e.g., one of our customers in the digital streaming industry experienced a sudden spike in customer complaints regarding channel unavailability. The complaints started compounding as the existing customer feedback mechanism did not allow them to identify issues in real-time. CSS Corp, using Active Insights, analyzed the last 12 months’ historical data and correlated it with real-time data to source patterns. We also did extensive social media analytics to capture the Voice of the Customer (VoC) and identified that the complaints were from customers watching a specific sports channel in a specific locality in CA. We proactively reached out to rest of the customers regarding service outage of the channel and sent a proactive info push once the channel was up. This reduced the incoming calls to their customer support by 50% and resulted in CSAT increase by 13%-15%.

What are the trends you see evolving in the space?

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

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 new age 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.

Conversational Customer Experience- A new era of customer experience has dawned upon us. Voice assistants and social messaging have given birth to the intelligent experience economy and made the customer experience more conversational than transactional. You can ask Apple’s voice assistant – Siri – to get you weather updates, find out and help you buy specific movies, play your favorite songs and a gamut of other specific activities.

Amazon’s Alexa can help you perform several tasks 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.

Conversational Support- Many B2C businesses are using conversational intelligence with bots as a platform for offering customer support.  We offer tech support services with this new conversational model that would field customers’ questions and get more real-time access to resolutions. This boosts overall business efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

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

conversationalX

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Employee wellness: From benefit to necessity

What changes did 2020 bring about in employee wellness?

Employee wellness, as shared above, buckets several components of well-being. 2020, bringing upon the worst health crisis the existing generations have gone through, forced one and all to rethink and reset the importance we place on wellness.

Post shifting to remote working overnight, several organizations emphasized communication, connection and collaboration as focus areas, to the extent of incorporating over-communication, not realizing the long-term impact of the excess conversations and timelines on the blurry work and home boundaries, and consequently, the well-being of employees, which has in recent months resulted in excessive stress and burn out, and deteriorating mental health.

Microsoft’s latest Work Trend Index report brought how the pandemic impacted well-being at work globally with five key findings:

  • The pandemic increased burnout at work – in some countries more than others
  • Causes of workplace stress differ for Firstline and remote workers
  • Six months in, there are more communications and fewer boundaries
  • No commute may be hurting, not helping, remote worker productivity
  • Studies show meditation can fight burnout and stress during the workday

According to the report, over 30 percent of firstline and information workers stated the pandemic has increased their feelings of burnout at work. The report also highlighted that everyone is experiencing this time differently—44 percent of those in Brazil are feeling more burned out compared to 31percent in the US and 10 percent in Germany. In terms of how longer workdays impact feelings of burnout—workers in Australia saw the highest increase in workday span in Microsoft Teams (45 percent), with a medium increase in burnout. While workers in Germany saw very little change to workday span or feelings of burnout. Among all the surveyed markets globally, India was found to have the longest workday span.

Highlighting the criticality of ensuring mental well-being, SVP and Head of HR (Global) & Corporate Quality, CSS, Corp Satyanarayanan Visvanathan, said, “Uncertainty breeds anxiety, and we are living in uncertain times. Since the pandemic began, 36 per cent of India Inc. employees reported that their mental health had worsened, found a recently concluded survey by HR and well-being firm – The7thFold. It goes without saying that it is the need of the hour to have our minds healthy and hearty to overcome the isolation, fear and agony caused by the pandemic.”

Speaking of the much needed education about mental health to effectively address it, Shefali Garg, Senior Director, People Strategy, Publicis Sapient, said, “We need to create spaces at work that are inclusive and non-discriminatory. To do this we must empower ourselves with the right knowledge about mental health, practice empathy, and help to create a safe space where people can open up about their mental health issues, instead of feeling judged for seeking help or wanting to seek help.” Garg added that despite mental health being a pressing subject, most healthcare providers don’t share it in their plans voluntarily. “At Publicis Sapient, we worked with healthcare providers to include mental healthcare as part of the insurance cover, over and above the Employee Assistance Program services we provide.”

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CSS Corp opens new delivery center in Costa Rica

CSS Corp, a leading IT Services and Technology Support company announced the opening of its new delivery center in Costa Rica. The center was inaugurated by the Honorable President of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis, and Alexander Mora, Minister of Foreign Trade, in the presence of Manish Tandon, CEO of CSS Corp.

CSS Corp has been in Costa Rica for four years and this expansion in the town of Tres Ríos, La Union, east of the Great Metropolitan Area, at Terra Campus, is a part of CSS Corp’s strategy to diversify its footprint globally. The new center reflects CSS Corp’s continued commitment to better serve their clients and help them in their transformation journey.

The inauguration of the new center augments the company’s vision to build a global network of delivery centers that offer new age services to its customers. The new 12,260 sq. feet facility will house 200 employees with scope for further expansion. Along with state of the art workspaces, it will have five technical labs, training centers and recreational areas, including a cafeteria. The center promotes adoption of energy efficient methods and has been designed keeping sustainability and employee-friendliness in mind.

CSS Corp launched its first center in Latin America in Costa Rica in August 2013, to cater to the steadily rising demand from clients in the region and globally for multi-lingual tech support capabilities.

We are pleased that CSS Corp is expanding its operations in our country and the fact that it will be generating up to 200 jobs. This is a recognition of the capacity and talent of the Costa Rican workforce. It also endorses our policy to attract additional investments through collaboration with the productive sectors and business chambers to reinforce the competitiveness of Costa Rica as an excellent destination“, said President of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis.

We are extremely delighted with the launch of our new delivery center in Costa Rica, which is one of CSS Corp’s global strategic centers. I express my sincere gratitude to honorable President of Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis, and Alexander Mora, Minister of Foreign Trade for inaugurating the new delivery center that will be a strategic lever in ramping our support capabilities for our growing client base globally.” said Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp.

Costa Rica is an ideal nearshore location for CSS Corp. The country’s central time zone makes it a perfect location for real-time collaboration, especially for our customers in North America. With its rich pool of diversified talent, stable political environment, and ease of access, Costa Rica was an obvious choice for the new center to expand our footprint in the region. With this development, we look forward to partnering further in the country’s economic growth, while responding to clients’ needs faster than ever before,” he added.

Earlier this year, the company launched a new global delivery center in India (Bangalore) to house the company’s expanding Infrastructure Management and Tech Support Business. The 34,000 square feet delivery center features 320 workstations and enables CSS Corp to provide future ready services to its customers.

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CSS Corp’s Customer ALE wins TSIA Support Operations Award

CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technology-support company, has helped ALE, operating under the Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise brand (ALE) to win Certified Support Staff Excellence Center status for the third year in a row, for operational excellence in their support operations.

The recognition was awarded by Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA).

 CSS Corp has been working with ALE for over 15 years, providing technical support to the company, enabling them to consistently engage their customers and provide high quality customer service.

With CSS Corp’s technology support, ALE was able to significantly reduce recurring ticket incidents by nearly 20 percent, and fully complete ticket closure on customer cases improving customer satisfaction across four regions and global support centers.

CSS Corp has been enabling major global telecom service provider/telecom operator companies, including ALE to enhance customer engagement while creating opportunities for additional revenue generation. It has been supporting 30 out of top 50 telecom companies in the world, both directly and indirectly. As a true support partner in growth, CSS Corp’s strengths in rendering technology support has been recognised across global telecom organisations.

CSS Corp provides comprehensive enterprise support; right from establishing a Welcome Centre to Automated Customer Care Support to Field Training, support and maintenance. It harnesses the power of automation and data to enable enterprises to move from a reactive support model to a pre-emptive and proactive support model.

Sunil Mittal, EVP and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, CSS Corp said, “As more companies in telecom and hi-tech embark on digital transformation journeys, they are looking for the best partners who understand their business deeply and can provide the right support. We are delighted to be a long-time and trusted partner to ALE and our other telecom clients, and remain committed to delivering better value at speed to realize meaningful business outcomes by reimagining customer engagement.

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The work-life post-COVID-19: From collision to integration

Here is how some organizations are working towards improving the quality of work-life post-COVID-19:
Provide clarity to plan: Global organizations like Twitter, Google, and Uber have led the charge on this aspect by announcing the likely duration of functioning in a remote working setup much sooner. Nutanix is yet another organization, among many others emerging, to take a stand and provide clarity to employees. Nutanix’s India SVP and MD-Operations, Sankalp Saxena, shared, “To ensure the safety and security of our people during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have extended work-from-home for our employees until September 2021. Post that, we will likely return to the hybrid model of both remote and in-person work options, depending on what works best for our people.”
Implementing and executing relevant initiatives: Focused on self-care and resilience, Accenture has offered a variety of programs and tools to enable people to take care of their well-being. “We have a digital hangout destination known as myDigital Workplace for our people to stay connected, and access learning resources and guidance on subjects ranging from setting up a virtual workspace to managing one’s time and well-being. Our AI-enabled chatbot provides mental health self-help techniques and access to mental wellness experts,” shared Lakshmi C. She added that the organization has also introduced a Virtual Summer Camp under their existing Parents at Work program which provides parents with online and offline resources to keep children between the ages of 5-12 constructively engaged.
Boosting productivity with a hybrid working environment: “A value-oriented and culture-rich ecosystem spurs the motivation levels of employees, wherein stress levels are neutralized and greater mental well-being is achieved,” emphasized Satyanarayanan Visvanathan, SVP, Head – HR (Global) and Corporate Quality, CSS Corp. He added that post-COVID-19, when employees return to office, “the transition is bound to take time and it has to be a facilitated process with policy amendments.”

Visvanathan added, “Especially in the IT industry, flexible remote working should no longer be an exclusive privilege, and more employees could likely deliver expected levels of productivity (or even more!) with hybrid work environments.

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Conversational AI can partner doctors, not replace them: Vasudevan Sundarababu

~ In an interaction with ETHealthworld, Vasudevan Sundarababu, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology officer (CTO) at CSS Corp, shares insight on developments in conversational artificial intelligence and how it is redefining the healthcare scenario ~

 

AI does improve and cut down on the human error in terms of diagnosis and relapse however the final decision is taken by the doctors. In an interaction with ETHealthworld, Vasudevan Sundarababu, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology officer (CTO) at CSS Corp, shares insight on developments in conversational artificial intelligence and how it is redefining the healthcare scenario.

Your views on conversational AI adding value to healthcare
Conversational AI is revolutionizing patient interactions primarily in booking appointments, obtaining drug information and receiving healthcare reminders like flu vaccination. Conversational AI and chatbots are the last mile of digitization, before that comes contextualization. Contextualization is the new personalization. So how do I understand the context or need of a patient? That happens with the digitization and creation of a robust knowledge base, which voice-based channels can tap into.

The accuracy of the technology revolves around deep understanding of natural language processing and replying in a contextual manner. This technology is rapidly evolving and I think in the next 2-3 years, the usage would be more prevalent as it would reduce waiting period in the hospitals, help in explanation of drugs in prescriptions and so on. So, the usage and adoption will be very high going forward.

Having said that, in the near future, conversational AI is not going to prescribe a medicine to patients because prescription of medication involves consideration of multiple factors beyond just the codified data. Conversational AI isn’t intelligent enough to replace doctors and we are still far away from that point.

How ML and AI improve diagnosis?
AI is currently used as an augmentation tool for doctors, basis which they can take informed decisions. There are many use cases where it has been effective. Importantly, AI helps us to reduce false negative results. For instance, if there is a tumor which can be cancerous, and the results are false negative, AI helps to detect that and report it. It helps to flag scenarios which escape human eye or human diagnosis. AI can be used to analyze various images like CT Scans and X-rays. So, AI does improve and cut down on human error in terms of diagnosis.

Another place where machine learning and AI helps us is in relapse. The system analyses and tracks cases of a possible relapse occurring which may not be normally identified by physicians. These cases are spotted and post-surgical care can be also suggested through ML and AI technologies. But reiterating that the final decision is still taken by doctors, so human intervention is still required.

What are the limitation and challenges of AI in the current Indian healthcare setting?
India is steadily adopting AI, but the adoption in healthcare as compared to the West is still relatively slower as it is mainly to do with digitization. AI needs data to work. The first step should be digitizing all patient health records from x-rays to prescription records to truly harness AI capabilities. Digitization and AI would also tremendously help in other healthcare areas like drug development, clinical trials and analysis of surgical procedures.

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Telcos have great opportunity to collaborate with OTT providers: CSS Corp’s Nishikant Nigam

~ With the rise of OTT content providers, telecom operators have got yet another opportunity to increase their revenues ~

 

With the rise of OTT content providers, telecom operators have got yet another opportunity to increase their revenues. In a conversation with ET’s Tina Gurnaney, Nishikant Nigam, EVP and chief delivery officer at CSS Corp, talked about how telcos can make the most of OTT content platforms and collaborate strategically. Edited excerpts:

How do Indian telcos see the content space?
Indian OTT market has about 25 players. Telcos are offering regional content and Live TV services, for example, Reliance Jio TV has over 550 live TV channels, helping them increase their 4G subscriber base. Airtel TV app offers 300 LIVE TV channels, including 29 HD channels offering 6000 plus movies and regional shows. This has made the COAI (Cellular Operators Association of India) pressing the need for licensing regulation to level the competitive landscape with OTT players.

How are telcos collaborating with OTT content providers to increase subscriber base?
There are 2.5 billion digital customers globally who are under 25 years of age, as per McKinsey. On an average, these young digital users spend 315 minutes online each day as compared to 126 minutes for customers over 25 years. There is a big battle amongst telcos to conquer the attention of these digital native customers.

Telcos have no choice but to collaborate with OTT providers to sustain their market position. The race to maximize revenue opportunities has led to free subscriptions for users, partnerships, collaborations, and acquisitions to create win-win situations in this space. Notable examples in the OTT-telco space being AT&T acquisition of Time Warner, Reliance Jio partnering with Discovery Communications, Vodafone offer of free 12 month Netflix subscriptions, the rapid expansion of Airtel’s video OTT platform to 66 million subscribers and the massive spike in the subscriber base of its music app Wynk to 102 million subscribers.

What are the recent trends that you’ve observed in the telecom-OTT space?
Telcos of the 90s were operating 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.

So, it’s quite evident that traditional telco business models are getting jeopardized with increasing dominance of OTT even in the areas such as messaging and voice. Some of the key market trends seen are personalization and customization, technology adoption to drive high data rates, OTT messaging, content distribution, and user-generated content.

Consumers are putting a premium on more personalized experiences and customized services. Data consumption has risen due to OTT adoption and given way to video on demand. OTT messaging has also caught up, fast IP networks have enabled OTT messaging service providers to offer services such as voice messages, media sharing, microblogging, stickers etc.

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