March

Trends that will drive technology services in digital space in 2018

In the early days of computing, demands from business stakeholders pushed the evolution of technologies as new capabilities were built to order.

Over the last decade, technology has shifted from demand-side to supply-side economics. The emergence of capabilities first dreamed of by technologists, not business strategists, has moved IT from an enabling capability to a differentiating one.

In my view, 2018 will be about striving to realise tangible outcomes from the transformative initiatives happening across organisations today. Global brands are looking to leverage technology to beat their competition and serve their customers better.

There are some underlying megatrends that will drive these initiatives in 2018.

 

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Understanding Metaheuristics Algorithm In 800 words

The term optimisation is not only mathematically important but also closely linked to any business. Everyone aims to optimise the way things are executed, processed, or delivered. For a given problem, there is always going to be the best way among the many possible solutions or approaches, and this is usually referred to as an optimised solution. Here are a few examples of business optimisation:

  • The one-way airfare between New Delhi and Bangalore is INR 5000. There are nine flights scheduled every week with a seating capacity of 120 to 340, depending on the plane type. The average occupancy per route is 150 passenger seats. Research shows that if there is a 3% reduction in ticket cost, then the occupancy is likely to increase by 12 passengers, on average. The constraints are plane type, occupancy rate, scheduling, time, and discount offers. The value of fare that can maximise the revenue and profit with the given constraints is a classic example of an optimisation problem.
  • A tech support business servicing a large global client has daily incoming calls in the range of 20000 to 35000, in a 24 x 7 mode. The support staff is equipped to handle seven languages, and work can be executed in four different centres. The cost of operations varies in each region, and the tech-support specialist/engineers’ availability also has certain limitations. The setup of this project’s operations is another such case of business optimisation with the given constraints.

To solve any optimisation problem, there are three main fundamental elements that one needs to understand.

  1. The single numerical quantity or objective function: It forms the goal of the problem. This objective function must be either maximised or minimised. The best fare for travel is an example of minimisation.
  1. The variables and attributes associated with the problem statement: Their values can be varied, and their impact is likely to be observed on the objective. In the tech-support business, some of the variables are incoming calls by time-day-language, availability of right skills in each centre, cost of operations per seat, attrition rate and calls by technology-module pattern.
  1. The constraints: There is no business without constraints. Most of the constraints can be mapped to a combination of time, cost, quality, and tools & technology. Understanding the restrictions and limitations of a constraint can help in solving optimisation problems.

In the context of optimisation, a heuristic is defined as a method driven by rule-of-thumb without any specific procedure. A metaheuristics method is designed by leveraging more than one heuristic methods and thus inheriting all heuristic methods’ characteristics. Natures inspirations, such as ants searching for food, wolves hunting their prey, the formation of water droplets, diffusion of two chemicals, cell formation, the attraction between electrostatic objects, gravity, have resulted in the ‘Metaheuristics Algorithm’.

Metaheuristic algorithms’ adoption rate is surging in engineering, finance, retail, healthcare, insurance, and biomedical science. The optimisation is a critical factor in solving business and engineering problems. These algorithms can be summarised as a form of stochastic optimisation (an optimisation method that generates and uses random variables) independent of the surface gradient for optimisation. Most of these algorithms are inspired by different sources of nature and evolved from a purely mathematical model to a highly intelligent method of solving problems. Metaheuristics, along with machine language, is gaining wide acceptance in solving complex problems.

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How can IoT architecture be kept safe and secure?

It was in the early 90s when the Internet was made public. It changed the course of human life. Just like the Internet, Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to alter the world.

Moreover, it has started to play its part. Many organizations have and many are adopting and planning their infrastructure in order to create an IoT architecture.

With further expansion of the IoT architecture along with Cloud IoT architecture comes the question of its security and safety. As IoT architecture is a complex body with many layers attached. Thus, its safety becomes crucial.

Here we have leaders of the industry on how they plan to secure Internet of Things architecture and tips to keep it safe to give you a better perspective on your own system.

 

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Mapping Your Digital CX Journey is Like A Road Trip

CXOs are increasingly recognizing that stepping up their digital game would lead to more efficiency, innovation, and customer satisfaction. But the problem is, ‘where does one even begin?’ Experts recommend, it begins by mapping your digital customer experience journey – which is pretty much like a road trip. It helps brands in understanding their customers’ needs and behavior that can help improve the brand’s product or service.

In an exclusive chat with CXOToday, Vivian Gomes, SVP & Head – Marketing & Inside Sales, CSS Corp., discusses why mapping your digital customer journey is becoming more important than ever in the current scenario, the key challenges and opportunities in this space and how brands can develop their customer journey map, going forward.

Why is digital customer experience getting more important given the current business scenario?

Since the onset of the pandemic, the relevance of creating no-touch experiences has become even more apparent. The entire ecosystem today is evolving around virtual operations, especially, in the B2C context. Customers are becoming more empowered and self-service is a rising trend that is seeing applications in many fields as an enabler in facilitating seamless customer engagements. With this changing business landscape, mapping the customer journey becomes critical to creating digital experiences that will differentiate.

How and why is it important to map your digital customer experience journey?

Businesses today are dealing with digitally-savvy, conscious consumers whose purchase priorities and buying behavior have changed. With the digital highway wide open, brands are understanding the importance of using modern, new technologies such as real-time messaging tools, AI, automation, chatbots, and self-service among others to remove friction from customer interactions. Mapping the digital customer journey becomes imperative to ensure that customers receive a seamless experience and any impediments along the journey are removed.

What are the biggest obstacles companies are facing around digital customer experience?

Digital customer experience is a goal that is easier said than achieved. The key to providing best-in-class CX is personalization, which relies on gathering intelligence about the customer context. This calls for smooth and efficient data capture mechanisms and analytics-led decision making. With so much dark data that is not being used and functions operating in silos, organisations are still grappling with data ecosystems that are yet to mature. Also, many companies are caught in the web of technical debt which prevents them from creating agile infrastructure ecosystems needed to engage today’s consumers effectively. Finally, structuring CX calls for a cultural and mindset shift in the organization. All this takes time as there is an inertia that impedes progress.

What are your recommendations to CXOs looking at designing their CX strategy?

If we look at the evolving technology landscape, cloud technology, data analytics, AI, automation, and other next-gen technology enablers, which were considered cutting-edge before, have become table-stakes today. It is not only important to create a holistic plan to weave in these technologies into the overall strategy, but also to create champion change agents who will be willing to adapt to change and drive it at the grassroots levels. It is also important to build the right digital infrastructure that can support omnichannel experiences.  Lastly, mapping the customer journey to create frictionless and empathetic brand experiences should be the way forward for companies.

It’s important to be mindful of trends in the digital customer experience space so that CXOs can quickly adapt their strategy to meet the latest industry insights and create an effective customer experience. In this video, Gomes talks about the recent trends in the digital customer experience space.

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CSS Corp named amongst ET NOW ‘Dream Companies to Work for’ in India

CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technology support company, today announced that it has been recognized amongst the ‘Dream Companies to Work For’ by ET Now, India’s premier broadcast channel, and part of the Times Group. CSS Corp was recognized for its strong employee-centricity along with innovation and learning-oriented culture. The awards were presented at a gala ceremony on 16th February at Taj Lands End, Mumbai.

CSS Corp was featured in the list of top 51 companies in India across all industries. CSS Corp scored well in parameters such as company vision, alignment of learning to business goals, technology and innovation, career development, and employee engagement. The company’s learning and innovation environment, customer-centricity and outcome-orientation, along with its career progression framework- ‘Reimagine’, helped propel it through the rankings. The recognition reaffirms CSS Corp’s position as one of the premier employers to work for in the IT & Software industry.

 “We are delighted to be recognized by ET NOW. As an organization, we are deeply committed to building a culture that promotes learning newer technologies and encourages a problem-solving mindset. Our vision and commitment reflect through our investments in cutting-edge technologies and learning frameworks to create a vibrant workforce that passionately embraces customer-centricity and outcome-driven critical thinking”, said Manish Tandon, CEO at CSS Corp on the recognition.

“In our knowledge economy, it is imperative that we constantly learn, unlearn and relearn in order to stay relevant and edge ahead. In this context, our employees are our pillars of strength. Steps were taken towards training workforces in next-gen technologies, problem-solving, and communication skills can pay great dividends for employees and their organizations in the long run,” he added.

“It is an honour to be part of this elite list of dream companies to work for. As a new-age digital organization, CSS Corp encourages a digital culture that fosters learning and enables our employees to think, feel, and innovate from a customer’s perspective. Our culture and technology infrastructure not only helps to bring employees more in alignment with customers’ journeys but also enables them to make context-aware decisions, focus on continuous learning and take calculated risks”, said Nishikant Nigam, EVP and Chief Delivery Officer at CSS Corp on the occasion.

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Rethinking Women in Tech in the Next Normal

The glass ceiling, the broken rung, or whatever name you give it, gender inequality at the workplace continues to be a looming issue. The tech industry too has a long way to go toward achieving equality in the workplace. In fact, at the bigtechs too (Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft) women make up barely over a third of the workforce.

The divide becomes even more prevalent at the top, where men are 30% more likely to be hired for managerial roles than women. In fact, only 23% of C-suite positions are held by women, with women of color receiving even less recognition, making up just 4% of senior leadership team, according to World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020, which noted it will take another 100 years to achieve gender equality based on the current rate of progress..

Now that the world has become further disrupted – thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic – and organizations and individuals are geared towards the ‘next normal’, it is even more important to think about the future of work for women in technology. What are the new challenges for women in tech? How are the new generations of women leaders breaking the glass ceiling? And how this entire conversation can change the future of work? With these and many more questions in mind, CXOToday reaches out to men and women leaders in the tech industry who enlighten us about the current scenario and the future of women in technology in the next normal.

“In more ways than one, the pandemic has changed our overall approach towards work and life at large. While the change enabled women to manage their work schedule and simultaneously attend to the needs of their personal life, it has also blurred work-life boundaries with increased responsibilities affecting their wellness.  On the positive side, it has opened up avenues for women joining back from sabbaticals with the benefits provided by companies like limited hour engagement and absence of login/logout compulsions. The technology industry is one of the spaces where a woman can explore a plethora of options like contract/consultant-based jobs to carry on her career journey without much sweat.  It calls for playing the balancing act well with appropriate support systems and mentorship. The tech industry has been increasingly providing opportunities for women to not only enter the industry, but also break the glass ceiling. But ultimately, the onus is on women themselves to make the optimum use of opportunities through constant motivation, continuous upskilling and networking with other leaders to grow in this space.”

 – Kalpana Sudharsan, Senior Director, Corporate Quality at CSS Corp.

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Towards CX 2.0

Smooth connectivity and the easy availability of digital tools these days have changed our lives to a great extent-including the ways we connect and interact with brands. Instant gratification has become the new norm in today’s world, which means if you don’t have your finger on the customers’ pulse, then chances are that your consumer will not hesitate a bit in turning his/her back on you as well. Customer-centricity, on the other hand, can get you loyalty, repeat business, profits and most importantly help you get an edge over your competitors.

A McKinsey study concluded that companies that can consistently deliver a high-quality customer experience(CX) can improve their customer satisfaction level by 33 percent while creating cost savings of around 25-30 percent. On the other hand, disruption at any given point in a customer journey could impact the overall customer experience, and could further impact the revenue side of their business.

While, it’s not difficult to assume why CX has become a key focus of businesses today, but providing a seamless, consistent, and personalized experience can be challenging and CX solution providers are looking for new innovative ways to deal with it. There’s no doubt that the adoption of omni-channel services have been able to let customers connect seamlessly with the businesses. But the challenges are not limited to technology, disparate systems, and data only. We often miss the most critical element- the humans- who are entrusted with the task of interacting with the customers. Hence, when businesses look to embrace a customer-centric culture by putting customers front and centre of their business strategy, they need to strategize their CX-related investments carefully and understand how it affects the entire ecosystem.

The good news is that things are now changing faster with exciting new innovations and developments in this realm. Gartner predicts that more than 50pc of organizations will redirect their investments towards CX innovations by 2018, as they see value in using them to improve every customer interaction.

MAKING THE BUSINESS CASE:

Superior customer experience is the holy grail for organizations focused on driving sustainable growth and competitive differentiation. But, it can get a bit tricky if they fail to contextualize and align their CX investments with customer pain points and with growth opportunities. Vivian Gomes, VP & Head of Marketing, CSS Corp said, “In my view, organizations should adopt an agile and an incremental approach towards digitalizing processes involved in customer lifecycle management. This is not a big bang theory. Making the transformation towards digital enabled CX has to start with driving a strong data-driven culture in the organization. One can start with low hanging fruit and ensure the data from customer touch points is efficiently captured and leveraged across the customer journey. Organizations should create a credible mechanism to streamline data and build customer intelligence models to improve customer experience. Appropriate investments towards tools, technology and strong analytics are must to ensure a sustained transition towards the end state. This can result in sustainable growth and enable organizations to confidently increase investments in innovation in CX projects.”

Raghu Polisetty, MD-Global Digital Delivery Lead, Accenture Advanced Technology Centers said, “Challenge in establishing a financial case for customer experience investment may, however, lie in a structured and disciplined approach to implement the overarching service/ customer experience design and selecting the right combination of customer journeys curated for targeted persons, data from real-life behaviour and new technologies to change the negative interaction experience to positive, and while doing all this, not losing the sight of the long-term goal of being a modular and agile firm which can shift constantly to new technology enablers. These choices are best determined by the business strategy driving the investments and in line with the outcomes expected.”

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When leaders Choose To Challenge: International Women’s Day 2021

As a part of the She Matters campaign, we asked leaders to raise their hand high and show that they commit to “choose to challenge” and call out inequality and create an equitable workplace.

In the wake of major social and political changes over the past decades, leading companies are taking steps to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion. According to a number of researches, we have found that diverse companies outperform with more homogenous demographics, have lower volatility, a better return on equity, and the higher the degree of creativity and cognitive conflict during the decision-making process.

While organizations around the world understand the need for diversity and are putting efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive work (workplaces), the progress doesn’t seem to be much. Programs designed to increase diversity and inclusion in the workplace often fail.

She Matters, an annual campaign by People Matters that aims at enabling organizations to help their women employees to thrive and be empowered at work.

This year’s women’s day theme is #ChooseToChallenge. We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.

As a part of the She Matters campaign, we asked leaders to raise their hand high and show that they commit to “choose to challenge” and call out inequality and create an equitable workplace.

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

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

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

Localization – the new technology trend

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

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

Integrating geospatial for competitive advantage

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

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

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

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

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Workplace should be gender neutral and inclusive for everyone: Industry leaders

While sharing her experience of facing misogynist attitudes in the early years of her career, Shefali Mohapatra, Senior Vice President – Human Resources, Act Fibernet, said, “It only propelled me to decide that when I reach a position of power, I will ensure workplaces are free from such regressive approaches.”

A woman in a key business position shouldn’t be an idea, result of a morning meeting but an accepted reality which has been missing in corporate spaces for long now. The equal participation of women in the workplace is needed as the offices are not just missing an identity but a personality which makes half of this planet.

While major changes are taking place in the corporate world with initiatives by companies and policies of the government, the equality the world strives for, is still a moon day away awaiting the sunrise of equal opportunities for all.

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