March

How advanced analytics-driven PLM can help you achieve more business value

Incorporating advanced analytics can help stakeholders to adapt new business opportunities and also reap many benefits from it.

What do P&G, Jaguar, Land Rover, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, or Rolls Royce have in common? Yes, they are all leading product companies of the world. But apart from that, they all vouch for the transformative power of having a cutting-edge product lifecycle management (PLM) approach in place to facilitate top-notch customer experience, boosts R&D, manufactures new goods, and fuels efficiency.

According to Forrester, by 2020, 85 percent of customers expect companies to automatically personalize deliverables and proactively take care of its needs. So, PLM is primarily about ensuring differentiated, superior customer experience by driving innovation, achieving faster time-to-market, delivering quality, while keeping costs in line.  While IoT (Internet of Things), AI, ML, NLP and other such innovative technologies offer real-time information, challenges (detecting failures, predicting loss, calculating correlations and prioritizing solutions with cost limits) remain.

Generate more value from data and enable insightful decision making

While organizations worry about the cost of new products and ROI, customers care about the product’s price/value ratio and quality. Advanced analytics can help both the stakeholders to adapt to new business opportunities. Incorporating advanced analytics into the process can reap many benefits: companies can fine-tune their market forecasts, predict failures and estimate downtime, creating more value for the business and their customers.

Road-blocks in product lifecycle management    

Executives managing the product development process must think through some critical decision-making points when strategizing for the digital future. A few of them are:

  • How to overcome constant technological disruptions to deliver customer experience that excels?
  • Which internal/external factors will influence the product’s performance?
  • How to leverage the available skill sets, technology and knowledge to drive organizational efficiencies through smarter operations?

Many companies still lack the arsenal of digital tools required for smooth functioning and must rely on guesswork or trial and error.

How does analytics come to the rescue?

Historically, organizations have long relied on traditional product development methodologies such as FMEA (failure mode and effect analysis), DOE (design of experiment), mean time between failure analysis and value stream analysis.
With ever-increasing volume of data coming in today, conventional technologies fall short and disruptions are widespread. But innovative companies know that data-driven insights play a role across all functions of the product lifecycle and strategize accordingly to maximize the value derived from the investment.

For example, Netflix’s sustained success comes as no surprise for companies that understand the value of leveraging advanced analytics, machine learning and algorithms to drive powerful customer conversations. Netflix has something that is more valuable than money: Contextual Information. Using this data, their recommendation algorithm suggests the most relevant content to its users based on their preferences. The resulting customer experience is exceptional.

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It Takes Both AI And Human Connection To Reach Superior Customer Service

With the rapid explosion of artificial intelligence-powered solutions changing the customer service landscape, much has been said about technology and its role in improving the customer experience. It’s also changing the nature of the call center — and, by extension, the jobs of over 2.7 million Americans employed as customer service representatives.

My company, CSS Corp, uses proprietary customer experience solutions designed around an artificial intelligence (AI) core. While we believe strongly in our technology to meet the needs of our clients’ customers, reaching a level of superior customer service requires a strong commitment from the company and its people. A company must complement AI’s abilities with high-value human connections, consistent and accurate training, and personalized interactions that avoid invading customers’ privacy.

The Disappearance Of The ‘Easy Calls’

According to the “2018 State of Chatbots Report,” 69% of consumers prefer chatbots for “quick answers to simple questions.” Given that advanced AI-driven chatbots can realistically deflect between many common customer service inquiries, I believe it’s a customer preference that makes sense to fulfill. Chatbots are handling many simple and routine inquiries that once made up the majority of call center volume.

 That doesn’t mean that customer service jobs are going to be eliminated; it does, however, mean the expectations of human interactions are now elevated. Customer preference for chatbots doesn’t extend to more complex or nonstandard issues. In one study, 41% of U.S. respondents said they feel chatbots’ answers aren’t as detailed, and 37% feel that chatbots are less helpful.

The increase in chatbot usage does mean that agents can spend more time operating in high-value conversations, where the stakes are higher — attending to customers with potentially frustrating issues or unusual requests. Often, those interactions are the ones with the most potential to make or break customer loyalty. Companies can maximize these opportunities by making sure their agents are not only well-trained but have performance measures and incentives that encourage them to put customer needs over maximum efficiency.

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Automation is No Longer a Technology Decision, rather a Business Decision: Nishikant Nigam, CSS Corp

Enterprises in India are rapidly moving into adoption of automation and cognitive technologies, and the appetite seems to be only growing

Automation is an aspect that has become a necessity for industries. The technology has various proven benefits such as increased productivity, reduced direct human labour costs and expenses, improved robustness in reduced time, and so on. In an interview with DataQuest, Nishikant Nigam, EVP & Chief Delivery Officer at CSS Corp, talks about the importance of the technology, and its reality in the Indian IT industry.

 

How important would you say is automation in this day and age?
At CSS Corp, we strongly believe AI and automation are unlocking and amplifying human potential, not replacing it. Contextual adoption of automation will help people focus much more on value added work and less on tedious and rote tasks.

Automation is no longer a technology decision, rather a business decision. By leveraging technologies like AI, automation, and analytics, businesses can understand and map customer behaviour, deliver products and services to the market faster, and create new avenues for revenue generation.

With advances in technology and its democratization, intelligent automation is no longer a differentiator, but a basic necessity in today’s environment. If a company is unable to adapt to this, they would find it very difficult to survive and stay afloat.

CSS Corp has built two unique cognitive automation platforms for IT & Network Operations (Back-office) and Customer Experience (Front-office) operations. Our platforms promote symbiotic convergence between automation, business process modernization and reimagine customer engagement models at different junctures to drive effortless engagements. These are not generic platforms, but contextual ones built around solving specific problems in customer engagement and productivity.

 

What impact will automation have on the job scenario?

According to the ‘Future of Jobs’ report by the World Economic Forum, nearly two-thirds of today’s job roles have at least 30% of tasks that could be automated based on currently available technology. However, all job roles cannot be automated, at least not yet.

In the digital era, some functions, tasks, and jobs are human-only, while others are bot-only. Routine tasks that are highly repetitive are the first to get automated. However, critical functions will still have a layer of human intervention, with cognitive technologies and chatbots performing the base-level functions. For e.g. Medical prescriptions and recommendations will continue to be handled by doctors, whereas, booking appointments, retrieving patient data and analysis can be handled by AI, which can enable doctors to accelerate the diagnosis of the illness. Looking forward, we can say that most tasks will soon continue to remain a hybrid between the two, with bots and humans co-existing.

I believe that concerns around jobs have always been there since times immemorial. Even with the advent of the industrial revolution, there was a concern that people will become jobless. But these kind of macro factors have their own way of sorting out, so the youngsters of today must not unduly worry.

They must have an open mind, reskill, invest in peer-learning, and learning from different sources in order to continuously evolve, experiment, and innovate. Ecosystem partnerships between industry, government, and academia, can also help to bridge skill gaps, drive investments, and frame policies that usher in new growth.

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Tech professionals need to prioritize their mental well-being first

The wonders of the human brain are endless. However, it also comes with its own set of emotional frailties which are often difficult to recognize and fathom. In tech-oriented jobs, the employees are at a higher risk of crumbling under the pressures due to stress, long working hours, and irregular shift timings. Such jobs are demanding, time-boxed, and isolative, leading to anxiety, increased levels of stress, and depression.

Techies who are perfectly capable of resolving deep technical problems are not necessarily as adept in solving challenges which life throws at them. In this fast-paced environment, tech professionals need to prioritize their mental well-being first, which otherwise can hinder both their health and productivity. Instead of silently suffering, it is imperative for them to acknowledge the presence of the problem and then refocus their energies into bettering their lifestyles.

HR organizations across the globe have increasingly realized the importance of having stress busters for techies in their workplace. Multi-dimensional personality and skill development programs are being run by HR organizations to overcome stress, depression, and suicidal tendencies of the techies. Minor actions like games, mini-breaks, casual chat with colleagues, the art of “letting go”, and learning when to say “no” to extra work, can go a long way in the preservation of one’s mental well-being.

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How Women in Tech Are Being Disruptors

We need women at all levels, including the top, to change the dynamic, reshape the conversation, to make sure women’s voices are heard and heeded, not overlooked and ignored.

— Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook.

Similar to the colorful taut fabric of a silk sari, tech firms are going about weaving a vibrant tapestry that shows an accurate reflection and representation of women to ensure the workforce is tightly knit by a diverse mix of skills, youth, ideas, creativity, and experience.

From the vivacious Gen Z to the tenured veterans of the trade, the digital workspaces are gradually becoming avenues for women to enter the echelons of top management. The viewpoints of female digital natives are echoing.

We look around only to find women of every age, grade, tenure, and department speaking out, embracing opportunities, and foraying ahead with their strong personalities and perspectives in an industry that is preponderant with men. Times are changing, and the voices of Venuses are rising; they’re bucking the trend.

While women do not demand a numeric value on their representation, the rallying cry is toward a balanced representation, and a fair go at opportunities, especially on the way to upper strata of management. The industry has not completely fixed the distorted picture yet, but the numbers are surging.

Women are moving from the fringes of the technology market into mainstream leadership positions.

A Reality Check

The gender gap runs deep across the industry and nation. The India Skills Report of 2020 mentions that 28% of the Indian IT workforce are women. The stark paucity of participation in the overall workforce stands at 23%. Ensuring a sensible proportion of women employees is the elusive piece of the diversity and inclusivity puzzle. As the times change, women from a cross-section of grades, tenures, and skills are breaking the glass ceiling with gusto to enter the echelons of top management. As disruptors, they’re leaning in; they’re taking a seat at the table.

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Why It’s Time to Revisit Women in Technology in 2020

There’s nothing inherently masculine about cloud computing, data analytics or artificial intelligence (AI). Computers are also androgynous by nature. However, the tech sector remains heavily dominated by men, especially in the senior positions. What’s more appalling is that despite women’s participation in tech continues to be a favorite topic at every technology forum and organizations getting serious about diversity and inclusion in the last one decade, women are massively underrepresented in top management jobs. And that’s why it’s time to revisit the women in tech narrative in 2020 and beyond.

In a recent report McKinsey researchers observe, how gender imbalances emerge from as early as the first promotion point where women account for 48% of entry-level hires but only 38% of first-level managers, with a clear knock-on effect for equality in higher positions.

This naturally explains why the overall number of women in top management roles is still painfully low. Today only 5% of CEOs of major corporations in the US are women. In India too, female representation on boards increased by just 4.3 percentage points to 15.2% in 2019 from 2014, as per the latest CS Gender 3000 report by the Credit Suisse Research Institute (CSRI). This is however significantly below the global average of 20.6%. India also has the third-lowest rank in the Asia Pacific with regard to female chief executive officer (CEO) representation (2%), as well as other ranks such as CTO, CIO and CFO.

Diversity makes good business sense

However, studies have time and again proved that diversity in leadership makes good business sense. As a Harvard Business School report mentions, having women on the board results better acquisition and investment decisions and in less aggressive risk-taking, yielding benefits for shareholders. As Sasikala Mahesh, Head of Delivery (India) at ThoughtWorks suggests, “Women are naturally empathetic and can contextually apply emotional intelligence to manage people effectively. This also explains why women leaders across the world have demonstrated their abilities to build a safe, open and conducive work environment.”

Jie Chen, an associate professor in Finance at Leeds University Business School, University of Leeds, UK, and his co-authors mention in the report, “One benefit of having female directors on the board is a greater diversity of viewpoints, which is purported to improve the quality of board deliberations, especially when complex issues are involved, because different perspectives can increase the amount of information available.”

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CSS Corp wins Outsourcing Provider of the Year 2020 at Stevie Awards

Bengaluru, Karnataka, India: CSS Corp, a new-age IT services and technology support company, today announced that it has won the Gold Stevie Award in the ‘Contact Center & Customer Service Outsourcing Provider of the Year 2020’ category at the 14th Annual Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service. The awards were presented to honorees during a gala banquet on Friday, February 28 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, NV.

CSS Corp was awarded for emerging as the premier outsourcing services provider at the awards. Over the last few years, CSS Corp has been investing heavily in enhancing its capabilities as an end-to-end managed CX services provider, leveraging best-of-breed technologies, and has become a strategic partner of choice for global brands with its business transformation-themed services. Leveraging new age technologies like AI, automation, analytics and augmented-reality, CSS Corp has transformed customer support from an effort-led to an intelligence-led ecosystem. Customers of CSS Corp have been realizing tangible outcomes through CSS Corp’s differentiated outcome-based and gain sharing models which have helped them in their transformation journey.

Speaking on the occasion, Manish Tandon, Chief Executive Officer, CSS Corp said, “global outsourcing brands look for partners that can synergistically bring together best-in-class technology, operational and people expertise, and flexible business models, to drive outcomes for them. I believe over the past few years, CSS Corp has positioned itself as a leader in partnering with reputed organizations and driving outcome-focused CX transformation for them. We are extremely proud to win the Gold Stevie award as the world’s leading outsourcing service provider while surpassing some of the industry’s biggest names at the awards. This award is a testament to our continued pursuit of service excellence driven by our values of customer centricity, deep tech innovation and spirit of partnership with our customers.”

CSS Corp’s presence as a global leader in providing exceptional customer service has grown over the past two decades. It has built a world-class delivery ecosystem through digitally-infused operations, and an award-winning talent development platform. The company drives B2C and B2B customer experience and technical support services. In the last 2 years, CSS Corp has emerged as the industry’s most awarded mid-tier global services company with over 35 international awards.

The Stevie® Awards for Sales & Customer Service are the world’s top honors for customer service, contact center, business development and sales professionals. More than 2,600 nominations from organizations in 48 nations of all sizes and in virtually every industry were evaluated in this year’s competition. Winners were determined by the average scores of more than 180 professionals worldwide on seven specialized judging committees.

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Leveraging artificial intelligence to automate data extraction from geotagged images

CSS Corp is enabling leading mapping companies to accelerate POI extraction from geotagged images through AI-ML led automation

While navigating using a mobile device, we often select a source and a destination that are well-known and frequently visited places, such as hotels, apartment complexes, tourist attractions, corporate offices, etc. In mapping parlance, these places are called points of interest (POI). Most location-based applications and services need accurate POI data to serve their users effectively. Among several ways to capture POI data, extracting it from geotagged images is one of the most popular. Geotagged images contain geographical metadata like latitude, longitude, and place names, etc.

However, mapping companies often find it challenging to get detailed POI data generated from geotagged images accurately. Fierce competition in this field has created a demand for high quality and freshness of POI data. It necessitates using efficient processes that bring reality to the maps in real-time or as soon as possible.

A leading mapping and location data platform provider was under immense pressure to scale their services and capture the market share rapidly. A critical component of their services was seamless POI extraction from field-collected geotagged images while maintaining quality and accuracy benchmarks. Done manually, this process can be tedious and time-consuming. CSS Corp was able to support them through rapid deployment of trained resources at scale, empowered with an assisted automation approach, that accelerated the time-to-market for their services. It leveraged its proprietary Geo.Intelli system which uses artificial intelligence for automated extraction of POI data from geotagged images, resulting in faster and efficient processing.

Geo.Intelli is a smart GIS system that automates the geotag extraction for POI location from images and leverages NLP to check the completeness of POI or address name. Its AI-ML based APIs automatically extract the relevant data from images, perform a quality check on images, and reject images that are blurred, non-geocoded, or in invalid format. To ensure high accuracy, the system automatically cross-validates the extracted data with reference source data like area, city, latitude, longitude, and ZIP Code. It also allows for multiple POI addition from a single image.

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