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Contextualization is the new personalization: Sunil Mittal, CSS Corp

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The IT services ecosystem is changing rapidly with automation being the norm than the exception. In this era of digital disruption, every IT services firm is reinventing itself to adapt itself to the new era. Sunil Mittal, EVP and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, CSS Corp, tells EC, on how his firm is integrating capabilities of AI, machine learning and deep learning to predict network related issues and proactively manage complex ecosystems effortlessly

How has your firm adopted to the digital era where automation has become the norm?

Today’s digital age has enabled increased collaboration within the business ecosystem. Businesses are focused on creating a larger ecosystem by building synergistic relationships with partners, suppliers and vendors to drive better accountability and deliver seamless customer experience.

Let’s take an example of the telecom industry that impacts end-consumers, enterprises and industries. Telcos of 90s largely operated in silos. With the advent of digital, today telcos have created an integrated ecosystem that involves various stake holders like news agencies, content aggregators, payment gateways, over the top (OTT) media services and record labels. This model significantly increases service consumption and average revenue per customer (ARPC) through a single platform.

Organizations are re-thinking their customer value chain to adopt to the new realities and demands in a collaborative business model. In this context, lever technologies like AI and automation play a larger role in driving predictability, faster time-to-market and new revenue models. So, today automation is not a technology decision but a business decision.

Also, businesses are re-looking into ways to engage with millennial customers, bringing in greater personalization, and embracing digital to manage customer expectations and growth. Today, success of any transformative initiative in organizations across industries is largely dependent on the contextual applicability of digital and automation in business processes. Generalized adoption of automation does not yield business outcomes.

At CSS Corp, we strongly believe contextualization is the new personalization and that’s our way forward. Reimagining customer engagements through contextualization is the core of CSS Corp’s services vision. AI based automation is an integral part of our service delivery organization supporting global customers in various strategic and modernization initiatives.

CSS Corp’s intelligent automation framework brings together two different platforms that drives modularity and nimbleness to meet the evolving customer expectations: Contelli (Intelligent automation for IT operations (automation of back-office operations in cloud, data centers, telecom networks and security) and Yodaa, which is a smart agent solution (front-office solution for customer support, customer interactions and customer analytics))

Our approach in intelligent automation solutions for business and IT operations is largely based on customers’ business critical metrics and more closely aligned with factors impacting business outcomes. Our automation strategy did not develop out of labor arbitrage but rather as a driver to deliver superior customer experience, provide instant gratification and delight customers.

In that last 18 months we have invested heavily in our ‘Innovation Labs’. CSS Corp’s Innovation Labs act as an entry point for clients to access the new age capabilities that augment customers’ existing capabilities, find solutions to crucial business problems, and drive new growth streams.

Today it’s a 70-member team with expertise in various technologies like TensorFlow, big data, BigTable, Hadoop. Across our teams you will find UX designers, extreme programmers, big data engineers, AI & NLP experts, data scientists and as well as professionals from diverse fields like linguists, behavioral researchers and domain specialists. We expect to double the capacity in the next 12 months.

Can you give us specific examples where Artificial Intelligence has made a big impact on the services deployed?

We live in very exciting times. The AI debate is intensifying. There is constant commentary on it from some of the finest thought leaders of our times. Some are for it with gusto and some asking for caution. One thing is certain that advances in AI have accelerated in recent times like no other in the past few decades. Artificial intelligence is pushing the envelope on what machines are capable of doing in all facets of life. It is very clear that AI will become much more pervasive and intertwined in our day to day life. It will change the way we live in fundamental ways.

AI is the ultimate frontier in technology. Organizations are investing significantly in AI and it will continue to happen with AI becoming more of an edge than an enabler for businesses. However, we often see organizations struggle to effectively leverage and implement AI capabilities to drive customer experience, efficiency and productivity improvements. It is about finding the right use-case and reimagine it with AI support.

One of the successful use cases could be the customer support industry where AI based virtual agents enable convergence of human and machine intelligence. This results in improved business agility, operational excellence, and resilience, and brings about better customer experience. According to Gartner, non-voice interactions in customer support are likely to rise from 55% in 2015 to 85% by 2020. Virtual agents offer personalized and context-driven support, with a human-like interaction. The ability to respond instantaneously and accurately to customers’ questions and helping them in decision making processes has made AI an integral part of brands’ customer experience ecosystem.

For instance, our AI platform for front-office modernization,Yodaa ,integrates with all customer channels like voice, email, chat and website, and provides a seamless and consistent omni-channel experience. It offers predictive intelligence, automated queuing, routing and channel allocation. Yodaa can offer personalized recommendations based on customer analytics. It can indicate customer emotions, intentions and relevant signals during real-time conversations, thus improving customer satisfaction levels.

Today, Yodaa is the nerve center of CSS Corp’s customer experience (CX) engagements driving customer-centricity. Yodaa recently won the 2017 Silver Stevie International Awards and has been chosen as the Best New Product/Service of the Year – Platform as a Service. Our platform has garnered rave reviews from reputed industry analysts for its novel usage of AI in simplifying customer engagements.

How has the focus on automation helped your firm? Can you give us some measurable statistics?

Demand for intelligent and contextualized services across industries is fueling the need for convergence of artificial intelligence (AI), analytics and automation. Forward-looking enterprises are willing to plug in AI in their strategic roadmaps to harmonize customer experience, automate IT operations and modernize support workflows.

In this context, CSS Corp’s Contelli, our intelligent automation platform helps realize the fullest value of hybrid IT infrastructure investments. Contelli is a context-driven automation platform that promotes proactive customer engagement by transforming the core of IT operations. Contelli can detect and analyze vast volume of data and automate IT processes or workflows while learning and adapting to the processes. The platform can surface probabilistic failure patterns, map dependencies, identify uncharacteristic system behavior and resolve issues ahead of the impact.

For instance, today we manage 4 million networking devices across 85,000 stores for a large retailer through Contelli. We integrate capabilities of AI, machine learning and deep learning to predict network related issues and proactively manage complex ecosystems effortlessly resulting in 40% reduction in total cost of ownership (TCO), 30% productivity improvements, 97% availability of network connectivity and 98% resolution rate.

Our existing customers and prospects have shown utmost interest and enthusiasm to implement Contelli to modernize IT operations. Our customers feel Contelli is far superior compared to any AI solution offered by other leading players in the IT Industry. Contelli today supports 36 million events with over 2500 inbuilt automation solutions achieving 50%-85% automated resolution based on maturity of customers’ IT ecosystem. We also use Contelli internally to manage our organizational IT infrastructure. Hence, our focus on intelligent automation has helped us build our client base significantly besides helping smoother internal IT operations.

Opportunities for your firm in emerging areas such as Artificial Intelligence?

We are moving towards a conversational economy where voice is the new frontier. A few spoken words to a smart virtual assistant can help accomplish a seemingly complex business transaction. As AI technology is maturing, businesses are plugging in conversational AI in their strategic investment roadmaps to leverage it for their customer service function.

At CSS Corp, we have embarked on a new journey in AI to disrupt the customer experience ecosystem with a new model called ‘Conversational X’. Conversational X aims at simplifying and personalizing customer engagements through AI based voice platforms. We offer AI based solutions that enable customers to have powerful, impactful conversations with brands and helps them with insights and a new radical vision to solve a challenge.

Our focus and investments in AI is helping enterprises adopt the right customer engagement and support strategy and move from traditional models to outcome based service models that helps them identify new revenue streams.

Let’s better understand the key tenets of Conversational [X] that can help enterprises and even SMBs to personalize customer interactions. A new era of customer experience has dawned upon us. Voice assistants and social messaging have given birth to the intelligent experience economy, and made customer experience more conversational than transactional. You can ask Apple’s voice assistant – Siri – to get you weather updates, find out and help you buy specific movies, play your favorite songs and a gamut of other specific activities.

For example, Amazon’s Alexa can help you perform several tasks like booking a doctor’s appointment; sports scores and game times; important event dates, hear the latest news; tracking traffic; manage calendars, to-do lists and shopping lists, set alarms and timers; read Kindle books and play audio books; make purchases; control smart home devices, etc. Many B2C businesses are using conversational intelligence with bots as a platform for offering customer support. We offer tech support services with this new conversational model that would field customers’ questions and get more real-time access to resolutions. This boosts overall business efficiency and cost effectiveness.

Conversational commerce refers to the real-time customer communication through different messaging applications and chatbots. It fits into each of the distinct steps in the customer purchase journey. These platforms empower businesses to generate a sense of need for their products to potential customers. The chatbots also act as personal shopping assistants to customers as well as provide recommendations.

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