AI Has The Potential To Fundamentally Change The Framework of Industries

by May 9, 2018 0 comments

Would the inevitable growth of AI in every sector or industry be a thought of joy or worry for the humans? Not Sure!

Let’s learn it from the tech giants that what kind of innovations are in store and how will they benefit the consumer, customer – human.

Shanmugam Nagarajan, Co-Founder and Chief People Officer, [24]7.ai converse with PCQuest about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the potential and growth opportunities it offers.

Artificial Intelligence AI

What does Artificial Intelligence mean to you?

Our vision is to make it simple for consumers to connect with companies to get things done. We have been pushing the boundaries of technology and service excellence to achieve this vision in an ongoing manner. AI provides a huge opportunity to raise the bar even higher. To be able to truly delight customers, we must anticipate what it is that they are trying to do and serve them – rather than barraging them with endless stream of questions to get information that we already have.

To that end, our early investments in AI have paid off and today we are able to process enormous amount of data to understand, anticipate and act on customer intent across channels, journeys and devices. We firmly believe that AI is crucial for delivering delightful customer experience because anticipating customer intent and being able to swiftly help them lead to better experiences, greater brand loyalty and increased revenue opportunities for our clients. In that sense, AI is a game changer and can augment human capabilities – now machines can analyze the data in milliseconds, find the patterns, self-learn and better themselves over time.

Please elaborate how technology in AI will shape the future?

In the last 4-5 years, the field of AI has witnessed significant progress owing to better AI algorithms, massive processing power that’s relatively less expensive and availability of huge amounts of data. Researchers believe that we are in the golden age of AI and it will transform every major sector similar to how electricity has transformed the world around us.

Today, applications of AI range across a broad spectrum – here are a few examples – creating a personalized online experience; using image recognition for spotting diseases and recommending suitable treatment options; developing driverless cars; getting chatbots to assist in a plethora of tasks; creating weather reports based on meteorological data; analyzing legal contracts and policy documents in a fraction of time and so on. The list already seems endless and AI can perform better in many of these specialized tasks compared to human beings.

Yet we are still quite far from developing general purpose Artificial Intelligence that’s comparable to human intelligence. Our innate ability to create is not something machines are able to emulate; at least not yet. In future can machines be trained to actually think like humans? Can they create an original piece of art; apply common sense gathered from life experiences or use intuition when making decisions? Researchers around the world are trying hard to close in on these gaps.

At this juncture, it seems like we can harness the technical, analytical, mathematical powers of AI and combine them with distinctive human capabilities and intelligence – that will be a winning proposition for every industry. With the help of AI, we can completely reimagine our products, processes and even business models in ways that will benefit customers and the society at large.

What are the upcoming trends in AI that you are currently witnessing globally?

According to PWC’s latest report, the game-changing AI Industry could contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy in 2030, more than the current output of China and India combined. Of this, $6.6 trillion is likely to come from increased productivity and $9.1 trillion is likely to come from consumption-side effects.

It’s no surprise that then Investments in AI continue to rise and given its potential many governments around the world are vying to make their mark on the AI map with focused government-backed initiatives. It appears that several countries such as US, China, Japan, the UK, Germany, and the UAE are in an intense fray to gain the leadership position in Artificial Intelligence. China especially is extremely ambitious and as reported in the media wants to dominate the AI field by establishing itself as the “world’s primary AI innovation centre”.

The technology itself is evolving with newer concepts like Deep Reinforcement Learning, Auto Machine Learning, making it more sophisticated and increasing its suitability for practical applications. AI has the potential of fundamentally changing the make-up of industries ranging from Agriculture to Cybersecurity to Commerce to Healthcare. For many CEOs and CTOs, imbibing AI has become an urgent priority – they reckon AI to be a competitive advantage and don’t want to miss the bus.

As the demand for Artificial Intelligence increases, there are more AI use cases emerging in every sector. The scope of AI projects within organizations is also expanding from small, experimental projects to larger implementations. That being said AI is still at a nascent stage and what we see in terms of commercial deployments is probably just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what’s possible in the future.

As the adoption of AI increases, issues of privacy, ethics, and responsible Artificial Intelligence continue to capture public discourse globally. We must adhere to the principles of fairness, transparency, and explainability in AI deployments to avoid any misuse in terms of manipulating public opinion, cybersecurity threats etc.

Are chatbots a boon or bane?

In our view, chatbots exponentially augment human capabilities, especially in the enterprise context which is vastly different from casual scenarios in which we interact with virtual personal assistants such Siri or Alexa. Enterprise chatbots can be invaluable where millions of customers reach out to organizations every day with their queries and the need for assistance.

Chatbots can vastly decrease response time, scale up as operations grow without the commensurate increase in costs and also be available on demand. If deployed correctly, enterprise chatbots can result in meaningful enhancements in customer experience. However, there are a few caveats and not all chatbots are created equal. For chatbots to be successful in the enterprise context, they need to be channel agnostic, understand the natural language but more importantly, predict true intent, maintain context in conversations, be industry-attuned and seamlessly hand over conversations to a human agent if the need arises.

Several large global brands that we serve have benefited from chatbot deployments. At the backend, the chatbots can also help agents to do their job better – by providing insights and recommendations for next best actions. In fact, we envision a world where an agent controls multiple botlets and there is a fluid back and forth between the two depending upon the nature of the customer request – a certain part of the request can be executed by a chatbot, then a human agent might step in for clarifying intent and can transition the transaction back to the chatbot for completion.

What is the scope of AI in India?

Directionally, the Indian government has taken the right stance by allocating funds for setting up the national program on AI. The public-private partnership such as The Wadhwani Institute for Artificial Intelligence is also a step in the right direction which will primarily focus on harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to solve deep-rooted problems in education, healthcare, agriculture and infrastructure to accelerate social development. While this kind of initiatives will certainly help, we need to make a consorted effort to ensure that we establish a robust ecosystem for Artificial Intelligence to thrive in our country.

We have a huge base of engineering graduates but only a minuscule percentage of them are acquainted with new technologies. We need to urgently revamp our curricula so that majority of our students are trained on these new technologies. It’s equally urgent and important to attract the top research and professional AI talent to ensure that the students have access to expert mentors. We need to create more public-private partnerships and encourage AI startups. Right grass root conditions will be critical for AI innovation to spur. All of these changes have to happen simultaneously and fast to create an impact.

 

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