IPsoft is leading the way into the next great business paradigm

Anurag Harsh, Chief Marketing Officer, IPsoft

Anurag Harsh, Chief Marketing Officer, IPsoft

Here at IPsoft, we have some strong opinions and insights about The Business of AI. Despite all the noise in the market, and despite the proliferation of AI vendors, we’ve been leading the way in enterprise AI for 20 years. We are delivering autonomic and cognitive AI technology to customers in different industries all over the world.

This isn’t hype. This isn’t some pie-in-the-sky vision that we hope will materialize. The Business of AI is real and it’s here. According to Gartner, by 2021, AI will generate $2.9 trillion in business value and help businesses recover 6.2 billion hours of worker productivity. That’s the opportunity in The Business of AI that our customers want to capture.

In a Cowen and Company study, 81 percent of IT leaders said they are either currently investing in or planning to invest in AI. Another study by Harvard Business Review showed that three-quarters of business executives believe that AI will substantially transform their companies within three years.

It’s easy to see why The Business of AI is on its way to quickly becoming Business as Usual. Think about the advances in AI in just the last few years — not just the technology, but more importantly in how companies, businesses and providers are using it to transform themselves and their industry.

In AI technology, Machine Learning and the use of Deep Neural Networks are allowing AI to grow exponentially smarter, and to train and teach itself faster than a human. It’s allowing customers in all kinds of industries to develop new turbo-charged decision-making models and algorithms. For example, ING unveiled an AI bond-trading tool to forecast bond price quotes. In its initial rollout, ING recorded a 25% reduction in trading costs and faster decisions on 90% of trades.

Today’s AI technology takes advantage of the massive amounts of data being generated by consumers and organizations every day, mapping and learning how a set of inputs leads to a specific set of outputs. Or put another way: If you’re a business leader, AI exponentially improves your ability to predict specific business problems and match them with the best solution.

For example, McKinsey cited one European power distribution company that reduced its cash costs by thirty percent over five years by changing its maintenance patterns, based on AI analysis of 20 data variables, to determine the overall health of power transformers. AI is even predicting parts failures, and prioritizing repairs for the company, based on the faults that cause the most disruption.

The other major advances in AI technology are coming from how AI interacts with humans —how it looks, sounds and acts more human, through the use of digital colleagues like Amelia. We’ve built Amelia so she can have real-time responses to customers’ inquiries based on more than 60 real human reactions to different stimuli. Voice and speech recognition have also come a long way, and millions of consumers are using voice assistants. A Stanford University study found that speech recognition is now about three times as fast, on average, as typing on a cell phone, and error rates are dropping quickly.

The Business of AI isn’t hype. This isn’t some pie-in-the-sky vision
that we hope will materialize. It’s real and it’s here.

— Anurag Harsh, CMO, IPsoft

Clearly, the technological advances in AI, in just the past few years, have been tremendous. However, the truly exciting prospect is for how AI is transforming industries and the potential that has yet to be realized, in areas that just a few years ago would have been unthinkable.

Just this week, there was a story in the news about an AI-powered weed-killing robot for the agricultural industry. This robot is solar powered, can work in fields for 12 hours without an operator, and can recognize weeds versus crops and deposit herbicides in the right spots. This solution uses 20 times less herbicide than traditional farming methods that spray entire fields.

All kinds of retailers are looking to use AI in creative ways to reduce costs, grow revenue and improve customer experience — in fact, many of our customer engagements and conversations center on that business challenge: Using AI to improve the customer experience and differentiate from the competition.

One German online retailer uses an AI application that is 90 percent accurate in forecasting what the company will sell over the next 30 days. The forecasts are so reliable that the company now builds inventory based on that forecast. As a result, customers searching for what they want are not disappointed that an item is unavailable or out of stock, deliveries are faster and returns are reduced.

Disruptions across verticals

The insurance industry, where we have a great deal of experience, is under great pressure to digitize their operations. The McKinsey Global Institute says that overall top digital insurers, the ones that have made digital investments, have reduced costs while almost doubling growth. And insurers want to keep up that pace using AI.

One leading insurer is using Amelia as what we call a “whisper agent” for their customer service employees. We’ve all had the experience of calling our insurer with policy questions or needing to file a claim.  If you had a question that a customer service agent couldn’t answer, you would be put on hold for who knows how long, and the agent would come back on the line and maybe they had the information or answers you need — or maybe not. Or you might need to be transferred to another agent to find that information or input your data. In the end, that’s a frustrating, time-consuming experience for everyone. The agent hasn’t done their best job, and the customer feels like their needs were not addressed.

Now this is how The Business of AI comes into play when a digital colleague like Amelia enters the equation. For our insurance client, when a customer calls in, Amelia through her conversational interface leads agents through step-by-step procedures on a variety of support issues on policy details and policyholder information. Amelia even listens in the background and learns how to solve that issue in the future. Instead of putting a customer on hold to look at databases or spreadsheets, or transferring a customer to another co-worker, agents can ask Amelia questions via chat, and work together to find a solution.

For our client, Amelia has worked with agents on more than 3 million calls, and lowered average call duration from 4.6 to 4.2 minutes. That may sound small, but when you’re dealing with millions of customers, every second counts when it comes to providing high-quality customer service. Since this insurer hired Amelia as their digital colleague, 75% of inquiries have been solved during the first call, compared with 67% prior to Amelia’s hiring. And here’s another metric: 99% of this client’s agents who worked with Amelia said they were completely satisfied with their interactions with her.

In government, Amelia is helping veterans file their disability paperwork more easily, so veterans and their families can receive their compensation faster. The disability form that veterans need to file is 10-plus pages long and complex.  Veterans must provide personal information, details of their military service, descriptions of their disabilities, and if necessary other forms. If a veteran enters information incorrectly, or is unable to accurately classify their disability, it can slow down the claims process substantially, and their benefits will be delayed.  Amelia walks veterans step-by-step through the form, helping users accurately classify their disabilities and determine the most appropriate benefits for their needs. She then files the necessary paperwork and will keep filers informed throughout the process. Hiring Amelia gives veterans a scalable AI-powered resource that shortens filing times, saves costs, and ultimately gets compensation in the hands of veterans more quickly.

Overall, banks and financial institutions are expected to spend $519 billion on IT this year, including investments in AI. Much of that is aimed at keeping up with changing consumer tastes — banks and financial institutions are rethinking and redesigning every interaction that touches their customers.

You have ones like Bank of America investing $3 billion in AI to create their own virtual AI assistant. You’ve got Citibank making AI a priority in six global innovation labs. You have others making investments in AI, like BNY Mellon, to improve processing times with an eye toward more advanced cognitive AI functions. We just announced we’re expanding our relationship with BBVA, the largest banking group by volume in Spain, and they’re hiring Amelia to launch new products and enhance its overall customer experience across the business.

We have other banking customers that have hired Amelia as a digital colleague to handle credit card disputes. In the past this would be a time consuming process. You call your bank and speak to an agent. First you need to prove who you are, then provide a laundry list of details about the charge, the agent needs to locate the charge, or maybe transfer you to someone who can, then maybe you had to repeat all of the information you already told to the initial agent, then the bank needs to verify with you that you indeed didn’t make the purchase… and on it goes.

Working in The Business of AI with Amelia makes this process faster, it makes it more seamless, and because of the human way Amelia can interact, it is less stressful. Amelia can also make it easier for bank employees and fraud investigators to do their jobs.

For one of our banking clients, when customers call in with disputed charges, they are connected to Amelia, who gathers and organizes all the necessary information, and then submits that dispute claim so a hold can be put on the card immediately. Amelia can assure callers that the bank will investigate their claim quickly. She then presents that information to security experts in a complete and coherent fashion, and meanwhile she keeps customers in the loop with emails about their dispute, every step of the way. Amelia also has the ability to monitor customer accounts for suspicious charges, and can put a hold on an account before customers even report any problems. After our banking client hired Amelia, she quickly scaled to handle claims at a 90 percent-plus accuracy rate.

Reimagining healthcare

Healthcare presents some of the best opportunities to not only make providers, businesses and organizations more efficient, but help literally make people’s lives better. According to our partner Accenture, the cognitive AI health market is expected to reach $6 billion by 2021.

The potential is fantastic and far-reaching. Dermatologists are using AI and Machine Learning for the early detection and classification of skin cancer, and so far studies have shown AI can do so just as well as doctors and providers. In fact, the industry has only scratched the surface when it comes to using AI in enhancing diagnostic accuracy. The Memorial Sloan Kettering Institute estimates that doctors use only 20 percent of the available trial-based knowledge when diagnosing cancer patients and prescribing treatment. AI applications could sift through all of that knowledge to aid doctors in diagnosis and treatment.

Amelia can be hired for a variety of healthcare roles, including insurance member management, hospital operations, and patient care navigation. The latter area in particular is one with acute needs, as people are living longer, and living longer with chronic conditions — such as hypertension, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and arthritis — especially the elderly. Chronic condition management represents 86% of the $3.4 trillion healthcare spend in the United States, and is increasing fast in almost all healthcare systems globally.

Overall, AI could be one of the best things to happen for the care of our chronically sick and elderly populations, while helping providers reduce overall costs. A digital colleague like Amelia could be used to help at-home elderly manage their medical appointments, medicine regimens, and even report at-home tests, such as blood pressure, back to their providers. This would provide a higher level of care, but also take the burden off of doctors, nurses, and care-givers, which are already overburdened with administrative tasks.

As The Business of AI takes hold, these types of use cases are multiplying every day throughout industries. The Business of AI influences how we design, implement and talk about Amelia. She’s much more than a chatbot, and more than a voice assistant — she is a cognitive AI digital colleague. Her brain is modeled after the human brain, so she thinks, interacts, even detects emotion like a human.

In our view, she is the embodiment of The Business of AI, because of how she can make a business run better and more efficiently, and provide superior customer experience in a human-like way.


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