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“2019 to be the year when AIOps meets ChatOps”: Uday Chinta, MD, IPsoft

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Uday Chinta, MD, IPsoft

Digital labor is an evolutionary step towards smarter enterprises and better employee and customer experience. Through conversational AI interfaces, employees can communicate and resolve tasks using a digital colleague. Cooperation between workers and technology with automation could raise productivity growth globally by 0.8 to 1.4% annually. Much of this productivity will be driven by virtual personal assistants (VPAs), or what Helen Poitevin, Research Director at Gartner, describes as “our work partners.”

We took an exclusive interview of Uday Chinta, Managing Director at IPsoft, world’s largest privately-owned organization providing enterprise-scale autonomic and cognitive solutions. Read on as he discusses the future of work, automation, top trends in AI in 2019 and IPsoft’s innovative AI solutions.

1. What is the future of work and how will automation change the nature of work?

According to the World Economic Forum, India is expected to account for over 18% of the global working age population, by 2050. Over 100 million newcomers are expected to enter the workforce by 2022. This is a double-edged sword. The new workers will need to be trained, as will the existing workforce of almost 300 million to keep up with technological change.

We need to address this through innovation and enhanced public-private collaboration that allows India to reap the benefits of this demographic. India has long enjoyed the competitive advantage of its low labor rates. However, in a technologically enhanced future, cost arbitrage alone will no longer guarantee growth.

Work and business process will change. We don’t need to look as far back as the industrial revolution to understand what happens when technology begins to do the work of humans.

Just look at what happened when email was invented: Email undoubtedly led to the need for fewer mail carriers. People were able to correspond without having to write, envelop, stamp, and mail letters that would arrive days later in someone’s mailbox. Instead, people used technology to instantly send correspondence without the need for someone to carry a letter from place to place.

Now that we’ve become accustomed to receiving emails for work and personal correspondence, think about how many jobs have been created. Productivity at work has dramatically improved, which has led to the need for more workers to handle an ever-increasing volume of tasks.

Depending on the company, this increased productivity has led to new types of products, services and revenue. Similarly, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will enhance communications one step further; through conversational AI interfaces, employees will communicate and resolve tasks using a digital colleague.

Cooperation between workers and technology is what leads McKinsey to estimate that automation could raise productivity growth globally by 0.8 to 1.4% annually. Much of this productivity will be driven by virtual personal assistants (VPAs), or what Helen Poitevin, Research Director at Gartner, describes as “our work partners.”

2. Over the past decade, digital labor platforms have been among the major transformation enablers in the world of work. Will digital labor prove to be a displacer of employees or is it an evolutionary step towards smarter, productive and innovative employees?

It is definitely an evolutionary step towards a smarter, more productive and innovative workforce. McKinsey predicts that digital frontrunners, or those companies that are at the forefront of technology investment and implementation across lines of business, are going to have a 45% margin enhancement compared to digital laggards, which are going to have a 35% margin compression. Looking at these predictions, an 80% spread between the digital front-runner and the digital laggard is an existential threat for any enterprise.

People, processes, and performance will all be impacted by the automation provided by AI. Some jobs will inevitably be lost as a result of intelligent automation, but the majority of the workforce will be using digital labor to make tasks easier and become more productive. Instead of looking at which roles will be usurped by AI, cutting edge companies are already looking at how AI can serve as a collaborative tool to get the most out of new and existing roles.

This is global shift. According to the World Economic Forum, in purely quantitative terms, 75 million current job roles may be displaced by the shift in the division of labor between humans, machines and algorithms, while 133 million new job roles will emerge at the same time.

Digital labor is an evolutionary step towards smarter enterprises and better employee and customer experience. Technology adoption drives business growth, new job creation and augmentation of existing jobs, provided it can fully leverage the talents of a motivated and agile workforce, equipped with future-proof skills to take advantage of new opportunities through continuous retraining and upskilling.

3. What are the risks that workers face with traditional automation and what motivates these workers to undertake digital work?

AI’s influence on the workforce will be much quicker than previous technologically-driven transformations. As a result, governments and enterprises will need to help workers transition to new roles. Enterprises need to move with pace to avoid being caught on the wrong foot and scrambling to reskill their workforce when they should be focusing on innovation and business growth.

Enterprises need inclusive strategies and programs for skills retraining in order that they need to keep employees engaged throughout the shift. Many individuals will need to be supported through periods of job transition and phases of retraining and upskilling.

Automation technologies will ultimately create economic value and improve job quality in traditional and newly emerging occupations. Both technological and socioemotional skills will be high in demand as the labor market evolves. Employees will perform high value-added work tasks, some of which will have never before been performed by human workers.

Digital and human colleagues will be working side by side. Amelia is augmenting the IT-service desk at some of the world’s largest banks, helping human tech support agents to higher-level support. Using digital colleagues in conjunction with humans provides a much better experience than a standalone human-to-human exchange, and the employment of digital colleagues will actually create new jobs that involve new skill sets such as roles that focus on the creation, maintenance and performance improvement of virtual agents. For instance, top performing human agents might become escalation managers, working alongside virtual agents to ensure KPIs are aligned across the digital and human workforce and steering teams towards new goals on an ongoing basis.

Suggested reading: Top 10 shifts that will happen in IT organizations over the next 5 years: IDC FutureScape

4. We are heading into the era of AI where the nature of work will necessary change for the better to emphasize uniquely human traits. Tell us what is intelligent automation and how IPsoft grew into a global AI powerhouse?

IPsoft was born out of the idea that the IT infrastructure and business operations of the future will be managed by self-correcting, self-healing and self-governing expert AI systems. IPsoft has created solutions that enable this digital transformation: Amelia, a human like digital colleague, acts as a sentient AI solution and natural language interface for communication and 1Desk, is an autonomic backend that integrates systems, learns with experience and carries out tasks to resolve issues.

The future of work will be more seamless with conversational interfaces, like Amelia, being used as single point of contact for the entire enterprise. We will converse in natural language and the AI will learn, understand and carry out tasks by interfacing with all systems in the background.

Most automations are created manually. But IPsoft is helping enterprises create automations using technology itself. Engineers and data centers use technology to interface with learning agents, like Amelia, that are studying and constantly improving the organization.

5. What is the end-to-end automation platform of IPsoft? Please brief us about its measurable business benefits.

1Desk is IPsoft’s end-to-end automation platform for the whole enterprise. It is a pioneering product in the enterprise market that connects all applications, from IT to shared services, and automates tasks using artificial intelligence. Employees simply converse with Amelia, IPsoft’s digital colleague, using natural language when they have questions or issues to resolve.

With 1Desk, employees no longer need to navigate systems and processes; they interact with a single, cognitively-enabled interface to access their company’s full suite of enterprise services, from HR and IT to finance, administration and beyond. Employees and users chat or speak with Amelia, as they would with any other colleague, to resolve questions such as, “why have my expense from last month not been paid?” or “please install Microsoft Skype on my laptop.”

1Desk directly connects business users with the applications that service them, thereby disintermediating human middleware and significantly improving turnaround times for HR or IT requests from days and weeks to minutes.

Just as the mobile revolution introduced the notion of ‘mobile-first’ applications, 1Desk is the first ‘cognitive-first’ application ever developed.

6. Why companies should consider investing in a solution like 1RPA that includes cognitive technology and advanced features to help accelerate enterprise adoption?

1RPA, IPsoft’s new RPA solution in 1Desk, is the first RPA solution powered by conversational AI, Amelia. With 1RPA, businesses can easily create automations at scale, and at a much lower cost than with traditional RPA tools.

Amelia guides users through each step of the automation recording process. Once the process has been recorded, the automations are automatically built for the user, and they can also trigger automations if and when they’re needed.

There’s no need to employ a team of engineers to write new code or structure unstructured data —the cognitive agent handles the complexity, while business users focus on following a simple procedure. Any RPA tool that requires an email or a helpdesk ticket to run an automation will already be obsolete by the time you complete your implementation.

Most RPA vendors charge for every automation you run, regardless of whether the automations are performing the same tasks on multiple machines. This means that if you’ve assigned an RPA tool to reset the password for everyone at your company, traditional technology requires that only one password gets reset at a time, in a consecutive process, until every password is done.

If you want two bots running at the same time so that the labor is done twice as quickly, you’ll generally be charged for two bots. We’ve chosen a different approach with 1RPA, given the realities of how enterprises want and need automations to work. 1RPA is as scalable as the compute power you enable, which gives you and your bots the ability to power through higher volumes without having to pay more than you originally planned.

11% of companies who’ve already deployed other RPA solutions aren’t satisfied. This raises the question about the value of the solutions and whether they’ve achieved the expected ROI. 1RPA also works with legacy RPA tools to help companies improve on their original automations. You don’t need to start from scratch with 1RPA — you just determine which aspects of your original automations should be kept, which should be adapted for faster automation, and which should be replaced with new and better sequences.

7. How did the concept of Amelia begin? What are the distinct elements that elevate Amelia above the rest in the market?

Chetan Dube, founder of IPsoft and father to Amelia, was convinced that there could be a more efficient way of cutting costs than replacing human labor with cheaper human labor. The mission has been to find a way of powering the world with intelligent systems and eliminating routine work through automation. Using Amelia, human talent can focus on creating value through innovation. Amelia was born out of that idea.

We are now on the third version of Amelia, a development process that has been going on for the last 15 years, and she is the industry’s most advanced, conversational AI – a human digital AI colleague, graduating into a digitalized knowledge worker. Amelia is modeled on human intelligence, understanding and empathy. Not only does she communicate in multiple languages, she also has the ability to learn and improve over time which makes her the market’s only AI that can fully adapt to new business requirements.

She can automate any process in a business. She helps customers open new bank accounts, process insurance claims and register patients for hospital entry. Amelia combines automation, cognitive and emotional intelligence with machine learning capabilities to perform as a digital colleague. As a whisper agent, Amelia provides her human colleagues with a personalized conversational user interface (UI).

When customers or employees interact with Amelia, they don’t feel they are interacting with something artificial due to her advanced empathetic abilities, capacity to switch context and channels, and intelligent responses. Amelia is the only AI in the market that offers all of these features with expert-level accuracy and emotional intelligence.

Just like any employee or group of employees, Amelia must be trained after she’s hired. When a company hires Amelia, it is able to design her to address a variety of company needs and roles according to its specific business processes and procedures.

In order to train Amelia, IPsoft and its partners teach her the essential knowledge she’ll need. Partners provide IPsoft with industry-specific terminology, as well as any required logic frameworks that Amelia needs to learn to develop her decision-making skills. Amelia is taught to conduct business according to specific industry requirements and regulations. Amelia can be trained to handle almost any knowledge-based task. She has the capacity to perform and contribute in a diverse spectrum of roles in almost any business scenario.

Once Amelia is ready to begin working on her own, she will inevitably get stumped by unique or custom questions and issues. This is where her ability to learn on her own, and work with human employees, comes into play. If Amelia is unable to resolve an issue, or finalize a transaction, she will escalate the task to a human colleague. Amelia will then observe how the colleague resolves the issue, learn from it, and apply that knowledge to any similar tasks so as to free up time for human employees to tackle other projects.

Amelia herself is an end-to-end AI-platform, however, she is also deeply integrated with 1Desk. 1Desk helps companies scale their deployment of Amelia by connecting her cognitive abilities with internal systems to fully automate end to end processes in IT and HR. Both these products enable enterprises to integrate digital colleagues into the workforce to help employees focus on high-value tasks that accelerate innovation.

8. How will investing in Amelia’s advanced and transformative technology improve the efficiency, effectiveness and quality of the work done every day, across different industries? Please shed some light.

IPsoft’s Amelia was recently rated No.1 in Everest Group Report on Intelligent Virtual Agent (IVA) Market and she was the only IVA to receive top ratings across all key dimensions in a new assessment of conversational AI vendors. Out of 10 IVA vendors, across multiple dimensions for IVA delivery, Amelia was the only solution to be given perfect scores across all of them.

Everest Group highlights Amelia’s Natural Language Interface, multi-channel access and availability, training and support, and market success. The report also pointed to Amelia’s diverse client base across industries and geographies, as well as a broad range of use cases. “Amelia can cater to customers across different functions, such as technical helpdesk, customer care, finance & accounting and HR,” the report states.

One of the emerging trends in the Intelligent Virtual Agent market is a shift from rules-based chatbots to AI-powered solutions. Natural language and self-learning capabilities in IVA solutions are vital for enterprises to deliver exceptional customer and employee experiences. A number of organizations are using IVAs to enhance back-office employee productivity as well as employee- and customer-facing channels.

A free excerpt from “Conversing with AI – Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVA) Market Report 2019” is available here.

9. Amelia’s partnership with Allstate was recently highlighted by Forbesin its article titled, “Using AI for Customer Experience At Allstate.” Please detail some of the benefits of this partnership.

Last year, Allstate, the largest publicly held personal lines insurer in the US, hired Amelia as a whisper agent to collaborate with human agents on customer support interactions. Amelia provides her human colleagues with personalized step-by-step procedures on more than 50 support issues delivered through a conversational chat-based user interface (UI).

Allstate employees can quickly chat with Amelia to get concise answers about complicated insurance questions. Customers get the answers they need right away, and enterprises can cut down employee training time. Employees are up and running, answering customer questions faster.

As an added benefit, this human-AI partnership ensures compliance with government regulations – a particularly vital benefit in the insurance industry. Amelia provides the best of both worlds – the quickness and accuracy of AI mixed with the personal touch of human interaction.

Amelia is currently utilized by more than 75% of Allstate call center employees to handle more than 250,000 conversations each month, and she has greatly reduced average call times, while increasing first-call resolution rates. A recent Wall Street Journal profile of the Allstate’s AI project highlighted that 99% of Allstate agents who worked with Amelia said they were “completely satisfied” with their interactions.

10. Banks are always looking for a competitive edge, how can AI provide that and what exactly does AI integration mean for banks?

As technology evolves, so do banking customers’ expectations. Computer-powered automation entered the mainstream in the 1980s, and customers began to expect the ability to handle basic personal finances 24/7 through ATMs. When the Web became an integral part of peoples’ lives in the 1990s, customers wanted to securely access their finances through browsers. In the 2000s, the mobile revolution brought with it expectations of on-the-go banking. And now, as we enter the conversational era enabled by cognitive AI, customer expectations have evolved once again.

IPsoft is pioneering this journey to help global banks leverage the advantages of AI – we are serving 6 of top 10 global banks in autonomics and conversational AI.

For example, at Credit Suisse, Amelia currently serves 76,000 employees in 40 countries, working directly with people to augment human intelligence. The strategy is to simplify and modernize business process by implementing and combining advanced innovative technologies with best practices to increase efficiency, improve productivity and enhance user experience within the bank. Since going live more than a year ago, Amelia has become the first line of IT service for many employees.

In 2017, the customer-facing IPsoft Amelia implementation at SEB, a leading corporate bank in the Nordics, was awarded a Supernova Award by Constellation Research. The award was given to SEB for its cutting-edge use of cognitive technology for internal and external services.

In Amelia’s first three weeks, over 4,000 conversations were held with 700 employees, and she resolved the majority of issues without delay. Amelia has also helped SEB avoid 544 hours of escalations to customer support with an average handle time of six minutes and an 80 to 85 percent accuracy in immediate recognition of user intent.

Related article: Top 4 AI engines to look out for in 2019

11. How does IPsoft’s 1Bank conversational banking solution enable banks to harness cognitive technology and win customer loyalty?

1Bank is a strategic component to fit any financial institution’s customer service strategy. It is a powerful suite of conversational banking capabilities, powered by Amelia. With a conversational interface, Amelia acts as a personal banking advisor, handling payments, transfers, credit card activations, charge disputes and travel alerts via text and voice.

With 1Bank, customers can engage with their financial institutions through a next-generational Natural Language Interface (NLI). 1Bank’s secure backend integrations empower customers to execute financial management tasks with limited-to-no human intervention (e.g. transfers, mobile payments and scheduling recurring transactions) — all through the power of conversation.

As a digital concierge, Amelia connects with customers in ways that static chatbots simply can’t, and she consistently drives higher overall customer satisfaction. Customers gain access to banking services at any time of day and personalized customer experience via the conversational interface. By adding this next generation technology to their banking apps and websites, banks ensure customers remain loyal.

Suggested reading: Technology decisions CEOs need to make in 2019 for embracing modern technologies faster

12. What according to IPsoft will be the top AI trends in 2019. Let our readers know about the major developments and movements in the Enterprise AI market next year. 

  • The need of having the best possible Customer Experience will drive the ‘Amplification’ of Enterprise AI – Many businesses view Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a way to improve customer service. One recent survey found that more than 90% of leading global brands use AI to increase customer satisfaction, and many said they were moving beyond simple chatbots to more sophisticated AI solutions.

In 2019, these efforts will take an even greater priority within businesses looking to bring AI-powered intelligence into applications and services and deliver higher-value customer experiences (CX). Businesses in various industries will look at this “application” of AI – where some form of AI is infused into virtually every consumer-facing channel, particularly mobile applications – as a point of competitive differentiation.

  • RIP Email: Enterprises Embrace the Spoken Word – Not only will conversational technology mitigate the reliance on email for internal functions, it will handle many email engagements between customers and enterprises. Advanced cognitive AI platforms – which are driven by conversational inputs and not email — will allow customers to discover information and independently resolve issues. When a customer has an issue or question, they can receive information faster through a conversational AI interface.

Conversational AI allows individual users to accomplish more by increasing the efficiency of communications — a paradigm that will be particularly useful as workplaces become more dispersed. We acknowledge that email is not going away in the workplace any time soon. However, starting in 2019, more enterprises, employees and customers will see the value of relying less on email to handle routine tasks and instead begin to embrace the conversational future.

  • 2019: The Year AIOps Meets ChatOps – We’ve previously predicted that cognitive AI-based digital colleagues will transform how global IT operations collaborate and operate by 2021 in a trend known as AI-based IT Operations or AIOps. In the coming decade, an overwhelming majority of large enterprises will employ both digital colleagues and virtual engineers to field and perform complex queries and tasks, such as executing multi-system automations, and even creating new automations on their own.

Prior to reaching this watershed moment in IT operations, digital colleagues will become a mainstream fixture at large enterprises performing simpler tasks. We have already seen examples of this among IT service desks, and we believe 2019 will be the year that this trend happens in earnest. Beyond 2019, digital colleagues and virtual engineers will be able to resolve even more complex incidents via automation.

Based on workflows designed autonomously and approved in collaboration with human engineers, AIOps tools will be able to automate fixes for Level 3 and Level 4 issues. In other words: AI will design and recommend even more efficient automations.

However, before IT teams are able to reach this point, enterprises must begin the transition away from traditional ticketing to conversation-based AIOps. Industry-wide change will take time, but 2019 will see the first steps in a sea change that will revolutionize IT ops.

  • Tomorrow’s success is not going to be dependent on “hard work” but rather “smart work”: it will be reliant on transdisciplinary collaboration and the ability to incorporate advanced technologies in differentiated ways. This human-AI collaboration will allow humans to gain more technical skills, while simultaneously improving the sophistication and efficiency of digital agents. IPsoft enables that journey for any company of any size, across the world.

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