Mariojose Palma is a Florida based Artificial Intelligence Expert. Apart from his expertise in AI, he has successfully developed software applications for his clients throughout his career. An advent believer of the fact that AI is there to change the world for the good, Mariojose has written a famous blog ‘COVID-19 scenario planning using Artificial Intelligence’.
In this Interview, he discusses in detail the application of AI in various sectors and what AI holds in future for us.
Mariojose, Thank you for talking with us. Kindly describe your journey as an Entrepreneur so far.
This great journey started at the age of 15 years old when I began designing websites and developing applications which could play my favorite online games and of course win my friends because while I was sleeping or studying, my computer would be playing for me. Since that moment without me consciously knowing, I was trying to emulate human behavior through a machine to get certain actions as a response.
Later on, I started to work with different companies in my home country Venezuela, where they had the need to automatize processes taking data from different sources and with that data have the application make different decisions on its own.
One of the most interesting projects I worked on in my US first years was to develop an application which would obtain and show cars and boats real-time data in a user-friendly manner to make better decisions. In that time, I formally learned a lot about AI and how to apply it in a large-scale project considering smaller time frames where we would make it possible to get real-time data in 300 milliseconds which at the time was considered an “impossible” thing to achieve.
Currently I find myself working as a consultant for several companies in the financial and real state fields most of the time.
They way we perceive AI and ML has changed rapidly in the last few years. In your view, how things have changed in the last few years.
In my opinion, AI has substantially grown in the past few years. It just didn’t exist before, as a programmer you were limited to certain conditioning elements (ifs and else) to make a software work based on the current data but that did not mean it was an intelligent software as we see it now.
It is incredible the high number of Artificial intelligence frameworks that’s been born and keep getting better in only five years like TensorFlow, Keras and Cognitive Tools from Microsoft. These frameworks help to a great extent to comprehend how to solve AI problems without having the need of diving in each and every neuron of the neural network. The way AI has evolved makes me believe that with today’s tools it is possible to construct superior and stronger solutions, not only for high-end companies but for everybody in a very near future.
How can AI revolutionize health sector? Do you see its potential in the fight against Covid 19?
It seem to me AI could be of great help in the health sector specially in the preventive side due to the large amount of data a single person can have, considering all the family history for example, it is humanly impossible to analyze all the data from everyone, that is the reason AI will revolutionize this industry satisfying the need for more accurate percentages and patterns. Imagine how helpful would be for health care providers to view on their screens the key points of the patient they are about to see, that indeed would help recognize patters of symptoms and catch up with any disease in its early development.
In the case of already existing diseases like Covid-19 AI would be crucial because as I mentioned before the large amount of data that needs to be processed in order to find the best solution takes a lot of time and it is just impossible for humans to do it faster, in the meantime people die, AI is going to be essential in the fight of viruses like Covid-19.
In your experience, which sector has best used the powers of AI? Also, what are some of the untapped powers of AI?
I would definitely say the automotive industry is one of the pioneers using AI since we now have self-driving cars available for the public to buy. Cybersecurity of course, implements AI to detect credit cards frauds based on the transactions data, to name one.
The education industry could take a great deal of advantages from AI taking into consideration each and every student’s data, how does he learn? what does he likes best to learn? which is the best way he learns more? Is he a visual learner? Is he a participation-focus learner? There are so many things to be considered so our students can perform at their best, therefore AI will be a teacher’s best friend in order for them to personalize education and reward each student the proper way to maximize their outcome.
There are concerns around how AI can be detrimental to certain sectors. Moreover, there are fears around the possible misuse of the powers of AI. Are these fears justified?
As every new industry has faced in their beginnings with difficulties due to the instant and natural rejection we feel towards the unknown, AI industry is not the exception owing to the apparent fear of AI overtaking most of our jobs, such as repetitive kinds of jobs where machines take over, this staff needs to reroute and find a more challenging job which the machine itself can’t do, for instance controlling or repairing the machines.
The dark side of AI is not the AI itself but the humans behind it. AI could be wonderful or it could be dangerous if it ends up in the wrong hands, what I mean is that the same AI used in cybersecurity that prevents a credit card fraud could be used to actually perform the fraud, “attack” applications, servers, etc. What’s more there’s something called “Deep fake” which is an AI able to make any public person’s face “say” what you want, with the person’s voice and expressions. The way it works is by allowing you to video tape yourself saying whatever you want to say and the AI will transform that into the celebrity or public person of your choice, as a consequence in the near future we are not going to know for sure if what we are watching was recorded indeed by that person.
What future Trends do you see in Software Development?
In my view the trends will be towards developing applications with AI to communicate with us as if they were humans too. For example, the bots used in customer service call centers which sometimes are helpful and most of the time annoying, in this new trend, humans are not going to identify whether they are talking to a human or a bot, making this calls a lot more satisfactory and keeping the wait times very low. On the other hand, the people working on call centers are going to encounter the AI threat.
What suggestion would you like to give to someone who wants to make a career in AI and ML?
If you ask me, I think anyone who wants to learn can do so, there’s so much information on the internet and YouTube, anyone could learn anything. I’m not saying you’ll become an AI expert in one day, week or even a year but you will definitely have a better understanding on AI. I’ve been working in the AI industry for over five years and I keep learning with every project I involve myself in and It excites me that there’s still a lot more to be discovered.
Why Customer Service AI Chatbots Are The Future
Customer service is an integral part of all businesses irrespective of the type of product or service a company manufacturers, retails or provides. Customer service is an ongoing part of a consumer’s decision making process, and is required at each step accordingly. Whenever the customer has a query or feedback about the company’s products and services, they are likely to contact the company through its customer service channels.
A growing trend in the field of customer service is the rise of usage of AI chatbots, that do the same work as customer service representatives, in a more quick, smooth and cost-efficient manner. The following are a few reasons that underline and detail why customer service AI chatbots like ADA are the future for all businesses:
- Customer service AI chatbots are cost-efficient
While the initial cost of purchasing and training an AI chatbot can be considerably high, in the long run, AI chatbots prove to be very cost efficient. One chatbot can replace multiple customer service representatives and save the company thousands of dollars annually in human resource costs. Additionally, humans risk the event of making a mistake in guiding customers about certain topics, which in worst cases can lead to high legal penalties if the customer files a complaint in court. AI chatbots are self-learning, and do have the same bone as humans to make errors.
- Customer service AI chatbots can interact through voice and text
Earlier, chatbots could communicate with humans only and mostly through text. However, with research and development and the application of Natural Language Processing techniques, it has been made possible for chatbots to communicate through chat and voice both, hence giving customers a well rounded experience in terms of service quality. Additionally, devices that are voice-driven, such as Siri and Alexa, are becoming increasingly popular amongst individuals and people are used to that sort of service by customer service AI chatbots as well.
- Customer service AI chatbots can also be used for internal communication
Other than being of use for customers, such chatbots can also help employees search for answers to their issues. Employees would be able to save up on time and effort by using AI chatbots for getting their queries solved. AI chatbots are also incredibly useful in setting up training sessions for employees which would incredibly help in lowering training costs for the employers.
- Customer service AI chatbots can do much more than solve basic problems
Other than answering generic customer queries along the lines of what a product does, what are its uses, how do finalize payment, if there are any warranties, etc. a AI service chatbot would be able to solve other problems as well. AI chatbots would be able to search through any product manuals and look for information they did not previously know. They would be able to become smarter by the day by learning and storing new information themselves with experience and time. They would be able to work and get data fed into them two ways – from the admin side and from their own experiential side.
Humans are constantly evolving and so are their preferences. They require 24/7, on the spot service and want what they want and whenever they want. AI service chatbots are able to do just that – something that is unachievable and impractical for humans to do. Human resources can be directed towards other productive tasks such as training the AI chatbot or saving their services for queries that are too complex for a chatbot to handle, or would be better handled by an individual if a customer demands it so. Either way, customer services are likely to transform in the near future completely with the help of AI chatbots.
3 ways how leaders can adapt to the changing landscape by AI
Today, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is everywhere. It is breaking boundaries and pushing the limits across every industry. It is changing the world around us and significantly impacting our professional lives.
AI is drastically transforming business functions — manufacturing, logistics, finance, operations, customer support, etc. — and is opening doors for new jobs. It is also broadly reforming all business stakeholders’ job roles — including frontline executives, C-suite executives, vendors, suppliers, distributors, and customers.
When technology has such massive potential, how can companies remain oblivious to it?
We are going through the Industrial Revolution 4.0 that will transform the way we work forever. Many scientists and business gurus predict that this revolution will have a more significant impact than the internet revolution of the ’90s.
If you look closely, then you will realize that what they say is true. The following points illustrate the differences in a tabular form.
|Internet Revolution||AI Revolution|
|1. Encouraged human-to-human collaboration.||1. Is encouraging machine-to-human collaboration|
|2. Video conferencing, emails, and social media are the three best examples of the Internet revolution.||2. Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), and Mixed Reality (MR) will revolutionize human-to-human collaboration forever.|
|3. Allows managers to send and receive timely notifications and alerts.||3. Allows managers to analyze reports and enables them to base their strategies on data.|
|4. Allows managers to allot tasks to their team members.||4. Allows managers to monitor the performance of their employees and provide corrective action.|
|5. Allows the support team to provide help to customers via phone, email, and call.||5. Allows the support team to install chatbots that gather essential customer information and provide answers to trivial questions.|
|6. Allows employees to work from remote workstations and serve customers from geographically distant places.||6. Allows the company to install Robotic Process Automation (RPA) that performs functions quickly without human intervention.|
|7. Gave rise to new jobs such as data entry, form filling, payroll management, etc.||7. Is automatizing trivial jobs. AI is thousand times efficient and a million times faster than humans. It also eliminates human errors.|
|8. Collates business-centric information in a single repository and provides access to all business stakeholders.||8. Not only collates information but also finds out patterns, structures, and errors in data.|
The above table lists 8 reasons for how AI is transforming businesses globally. AI will find more applications in the coming times, and leaders need to be ready to welcome them.
Let’s look at 3 ways how leaders can adapt to the changing landscape by AI:
1. Jobs are transforming at a fast pace
Every business has to comply with government regulations and has to keep the customer’s interest in mind. This gives rise to specific trivial jobs that eat up the employees’ time, such as form filling, collecting customer data, creating reports, data entry, payroll management, etc.
The Internet revolution of the early ’90s gave rise to such jobs. The economy improved by leaps and bounds as employment opportunities rose exponentially. But companies realized that humans have a downside as well. We aren’t good at maintaining records and are prone to making errors. In some cases, companies made heavy losses due to human errors. But due to the lack of any suitable alternative, they had no choice.
With the emergence of AI, companies have to bear the negative consequences no longer as it can handle trivial jobs efficiently and eliminate human errors. Realizing this advantage, companies are investing heavily in RPA and other software such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems. ERP systems, such as Sage 300Cloud, is helping companies manage business-critical operations like manufacturing, logistics, finance, supply chain relationships, and inventory management at the click of a button. CRM software like Sage CRM allows companies to instantly resolve customer queries, strengthen customer bonds, manage payroll management, and easily monitor employees’ performance.
As jobs’ nature is changing, managers need to keep an eye on the corporate world’s new realities. AI is revolutionizing yesteryear jobs, and companies need to be quick in transforming their functions. Even a small delay can degrade their status from leaders to laggers.
2. Conduct periodic training sessions for your employees
Training is a necessary element for all employees. It allows them to understand the changing demands of the industry and enables them to upgrade their skills. Gone are the days when a college degree guaranteed a managerial post. Today, if you don’t polish your skills, you will be shown the door.
In the cut-throat competitive world we live, it’s essential to hold training sessions for your employees and upskill them. Failing to do so will make your workforce obsolete and negatively impact the overall functioning of the company. For example, AI has made all the front desk jobs redundant. You no longer need a human to sit on the front desk and answer people’s questions. An AI can engage with thousands of callers simultaneously and provide them solutions. This helps the company to serve more customers and also save money.
But sometimes a chatbot doesn’t know what to do. In such conditions, it forwards the query to its human counterparts, who then take up the issue and provide unique solutions or recommendations.
This is where training plays a significant role. You will have to train your support service team to handle chatbots. They should have working knowledge of programming chatbots and employing troubleshooting algorithms when required. This strategy will increase the productivity of the employees and allow them to focus on issues that require human ingenuity, emotions, and intelligence, such as:
a. Brainstorming marketing strategies
b. Building target segments
c. Creating niches
d. Charting financial plan
e. Designing a Vision, Mission, and Values (VMV) statement
f. Studying competitors
3. Planning for the future
Forecasting the future requires a strong foundation on data to help the management team understand the changing business landscape. A combination of logic and creativity is essential for estimating how the industry shapes and performs in the future.
AI provides a fertile ground on which companies can build their bases. Other technologies, such as Machine Learning, Web Application, Neural Networks, Data Analytics, etc. also play a crucial role in carefully analyzing the market.
It also provides a blueprint that allows companies to allocate resources optimally and use them judiciously. The COVID-19 pandemic has displayed how useful AI and related technologies are. They have breathed new life into businesses. By integrating AI with ERP and CRM systems, companies have been able to do the following:
a. Retail stores suffered a massive loss in footfalls. AI helped them set up online portals, segregate customers based on their needs, wants, and wishlists, and thus increase demands.
b. Non-COVID patients were discouraged from visiting clinics. AI allowed doctors to provide primary healthcare to patients remotely. It also sends timely reminders regarding medicines, healthcare articles, and allows patients to arrange one-to-one sessions with doctors.
c. AI-enabled ERP systems check the inventory levels from time to time. As soon as the number of raw materials falls below the set threshold level, it automatically places orders with the vendor.
d. Since social distancing is the only way to avoid contracting the virus, the accumulation and disbursal of products in/from the warehouse have become a problem. AI-enabled ERP systems control robots that help in storing and moving products from point A to B smoothly.
e. Companies are finding difficulties in serving their customers appropriately as public transport facilities have either shut down or are not functioning at their optimum level. AI-enabled CRM systems have come as a boon. They are enabling the support team to provide top-notch services through video-conferences and calls.
f. AI-enabled CRM systems also record each customer’s specific details and suggest ways to effectively deal with them.
The AI revolution is creating ripples in the business landscape. The customers’ aspirations, stakeholder relationships, transaction procedures, and support processes will undergo a massive transformation. You cannot survive without incorporating AI and related technologies in your business blueprint in times of cut-throat competition.
Managers need to revamp their business processes and mold themselves according to the changing times. This article will enable managers to focus on the three main points — The changing nature of jobs, the importance of conducting periodic training sessions, and forecasting a good plan for the future — and help them make winning strategies for their business.
About the Author:
Nishant likes to read and write on technologies that form the bedrock of modern-day and age like Web Apps, machine learning, data science, AI, and robotics. His expertise in content marketing has helped grow countless business opportunities. Nishant works for Sage Software Solutions Pvt. Ltd., a leading provider of CRM and ERP Application to small and mid-sized businesses in India.
Perspectico Launches AI-based Job preparation platform for college graduates
The spread of the novel coronavirus has interrupted how graduates were preparing to enter the job market. Uncertainty about job opportunities and disruption to regular routines has led students to a stressful job search. To provide ease to students, Perspectico, an edtech startup launches AI-Based job preparation platform for college graduates. With this launch, the startup aims to create a positive job ecosystem for 2cr college students.
Launching the AI-Based Preparation Platform, Nikhil Chainani – Founder; Perspectico commented, “With our research &development we have seen that college graduates when looking for a job becomes very confused as most of the job platforms are scattered. Keeping this in mind, we built this common tech platform that will help not only have all the details on job opening but it will also prepare them to find their right job thus providing the right direction & guidance so that they can shine in their respective careers.”
This job preparation platform is India’s first relevant and guided job preparation tool. This will help the students with all the recommendations and evaluation which is required to get fully prepared for the job market.
The highlight of AI-based the platform is that it provides a market place for job openings across India to the college graduates on a real-time basis. In case students profile is not suitable, the AI Engine recommends the online course to improve their areas that need attention. A student can also undertake a self-evaluation test to measure competencies. These tests include subjective, MCQ &Situational test.
In addition, students are provided with Preparation materials, in-house courses, mentorship and interview guidance.
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