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A content writer who has worked for Infosys Technologies and other technology startups in India and abroad.
Avanish is a Bangalore-based journalist who writes on business with a specific focus on technology companies.
Priyanka has covered every aspect of the IT industry as a tech journalist since its early days. She is now an independent writer, working on subjects like digital marketing, enterprise technology and high-performance computing, among others.
A freelance content writer, S. Sahu was the former editor of TCS's house magazine at Tata Consultancy Services. He developed tech marketing collateral for the company and helped compile and edit books and journal articles on TCS's technology innovations. He also ghostwrites print and online publications.
Prajwala is a Bangalore-based freelance journalist who writes on social issues, stories of human interest, and art and culture, among others.
Rajesh Nanarpuzha is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at IIM Udaipur. Previously, he has worked as a brand manager in Dabur, and as a business consultant in the retail and consumer goods domains at Cognizant and Tata Consultancy Services. Rajesh has an MBA from IIM Indore and a doctorate in marketing from IIM Ahmedabad.
Priyokumar Singh Naorem
He is a passionate UI & UX designer who thrives on creating engaging creative solutions.
A freelance illustrator, artist, graphic novelist and designer. She has designed and illustrated several book covers. Her personal illustrations so far have attempted to seize the fleeting absurdity and mood of places, things and people she encounters in a childlike, intuitive and expressive manner with closure, beauty and innocence – the things that she desires.
She is an artist and an educator who has taught and lectured at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Oxford University, the Victoria and Albert Museum among other institutions. Her installations, paintings, thread work and sculptures have been exhibited in Saatchi Gallery - London, C24 Gallery - New York, and Museum of Contemporary Art – Lyon, among other notable galleries and museums from around the world.
A commerce graduate from Delhi University, Parul pursued a masters in fine arts from Nottingham Trent University in the UK. As an artist, she is interested in line as a subject which has led her to follow architectural lines in built environments. She says she is also interested in how we perceive the environment that we inhabit and what happens when a subtle shift is made in things which we have been used to seeing in a certain way. We present six of her artworks here.
Shweta Malhotra is a graphic artist and designer from Mumbai, based in New Delhi.
After working with ad agencies and design studios for close to 8 years, she branched out on her own and currently works independently.s Her overall design aesthetic is minimal, bold and graphic, a response to the maximalist visual language prevalent in India.
Rithika Merchant (b.1986) received her Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Parsons the New School for Design, New York in 2008. She has exhibited extensively since her graduation. Recent exhibitions include a duo show “Reliquaries: The Remembered Self” at TARQ, Mumbai; “Language of the Birds: Occult and Art” at 80WSE Gallery, New York; and group shows at Summerhall, Edinburgh and Artry Gallery, Kochi. Her work has been included in multiple group shows at Stephen Romano Gallery and The Morbid Anatomy Museum, New York. Born in Mumbai, she now divides her time between Mumbai and Barcelona.
Aniruddh Mehta is an artist based out of Mumbai, India. Trained in graphic design from the London College of Communications, Aniruddh is a self-taught illustrator and currently works as an independent freelance designer. He believes in finding the right balance between art and graphic design. He has worked closely in collaboration with Bhavishyavani Future Soundz, Qilla Records, Taxi Fabric, Adidas, Dell and United Colours of Benetton. He also goes by the moniker, ‘thebigfatminimalist’ and his style ranges from bold minimal forms to more intricate pieces exploring patterns and geometry.
Paramesh is an artist who enjoys working in both the realistic and abstract style of painting. He loves working with water color. Featured in this issue are a set of water color works that he has created exclusively for us on the subject of digital transformation.
Concept and Direction
Head of marketing at Regalix, Nimish drives research in emerging technologies and customer experience, and takes a keen interest in creative arts.
Talking to customers and understanding their woes has become more complex than ever. Thus, the solutions have become more technology-oriented, and new age tools such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning have come into the picture, just to handle those special customer woes. In fact, customer engagement has also become trickier than ever. In this time of social media and technology-educated customers it has become more and more difficult to remain disengaged when the customer is looking for a solution or a new product.
MoEngage is an AI powered customer engagement platform for marketers and brands that help companies such as Samsung, Vodafone, Flipkart, Airtel, etc. to maintain customer engagement in such a way that they get more sales and more visits from buyers. This, according to Yashwanth Reddy, Vice President of Sales at MoEngage, is a win-win situation for both buyers and brands.
Interviewed by Avanish Tiwary
/ / How has customer engagement changed with respect to AI and the chatbots?
In terms of the overall template, it has become a lot more interactive than in earlier days. If you see how companies such as IBM work on customer engagement, you will notice that in the name of customer engagement, all they do is react. What I mean to say is that their actions lack any sort of proactive action or taking a lead, per se. Their idea of customer engagement is “if users come to our site, we will send a particular kind of email; if they spent a short duration of time we will send a different kind of email”. This is not action-oriented customer engagement; this is pure reaction.
A couple of years ago when we started we also used to do exactly that, but we have since completely changed the kind of engagement we do now. We thought it wasn’t the most effective way to do this. We wanted to be in a position where we were able to reach the right users using the right channel at the right time. That is the Holy Grail of marketing. And that is where machine learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) have been helping us a lot. Over a period of time, we tried to understand the behaviour pattern of each customer and then tailor the communication according to what they like, how they want to communicate and then reach them on the channel they are comfortable with and regularly use.
But with our new product, we have figured out which is the right channel to which to send advertisements to particular users and the channel to which to send new product alerts, etc. We have even optimized and figured out the right time to send these emails and advertisements according to the customer’s lifestyle. Using machine learning and deducing theories from the data available, we know which particular customer is more likely to buy if we send emails at a specific time of the day. We help our customers increase their sales by implementing knowledge we get from machine learning and AI tools.
/ / Do these customers just spend more time on the portal or also buy more?
The way we process the data that we get from our AI tools, both conditions are achieved—people come to the website to spend time browsing products, and as they see more and more products their basket size also increases. We put pure science behind it.
As a company, I want my customer to spend more time on my website and I also want each transaction to be of higher value. Let’s say you have an iPhone. By seeing your past shopping data, shopping behaviour, etc., it’s really easy for me to up-sale an iPhone cover to you or an iPhone app, for that matter. The job of selling goods to customers by knowing what their past purchases have been is easy if the sale quantity is less. Say a person who has bought a kilo of Surf Excel will run out of Surf Excel within 20 days or so. It is very easy to sell to this person. But the brands we work with sell millions of products in a month. And that is where AI and machine learning come into the picture.
/ / Before AI and machine learning were the companies losing money?
Absolutely, right? I will give you an example. In the newspaper the toothpaste advertisement that I see and the advertisement that you see is same. Now the advertiser has put out an advertisement without knowing who is going to read this, what economic or social background the reader is from. At most the marketer has targeted the kind of newspaper the advertisement will be printed in; that is, if the advertisement will go to a Hindi or an English newspaper. But that is not enough to gauge if the money paid for the advertisement is useful and will be read by the target user.
What AI and machine learning do is see your buying behaviour and show the product related to it. If I know your last phone was in the range of Rs.5,000-10,000 and that you moved from a government sector job to a private sector, I will show you the phone of higher range. By not taking these things into account, companies lost a lot of opportunities. With the help of technology, now companies are able to use this to their and their customers’ benefit.
/ / Who benefits more from the AI and machine learning intelligence, customers or brands?
Both of them benefit from this. The reason is that as a brand I am able to make people buy more and more, drive more sales and at the same time reach out to my customers effectively. For users, since we have their purchase behaviour data and we make intelligent deductions with the use of machine learning, customers don’t feel spammed when we send them product infomercials or emails. The engagement has gotten better and they genuinely feel interested in the products we show them because we know they are already looking for something like that and that they can afford these products as they come under their purchasing power. So as a buyer, I don’t feel that I am being bombarded with useless product emails; rather I get more useful interactive experience.
/ / How large scale has been the usage of AI and machine learning by companies?
Well, this is at a very nascent stage of adoption in India. I would say it is being used most by enterprises only and they are experimenting with it. Vodafone, Indiabulls, Thomas Cook, etc. are using it with great success. I think we are still scraping the surface with the amount of data we have and it has a long way to go with more and more interesting use cases to come as we go.
/ / What is stopping the companies from using it?
Nothing is stopping companies from its usage. If you talk to any company now about the future of marketing, customer engagement and targeting clients, they will start the talk with digital transformation and the things that new age technology can do. So there is nothing stopping them as such. It is just that it’s a very initial stage and we have already, as an industry in the making, have started taking steps in the right direction. AI and machine learning have become a sort of revolution and buzzwords only in the last two years. Two years is nothing for it to properly evolve and get adopted at large scale for commercial usage.
From what we have seen by solving these customer engagement issues is that the enterprises have seen the results it can bring. Now they even have started to talk to their peers about it and a few of them are already in the process to start using it. So it’s just a matter of time before the usage permeates across the industry.
/ / How do you see the future usage of machine learning?
We feel that we have a lot of automation left to do. The way things are done right now there is a lot of human intervention in machine learning, and sometimes it brings hindrances to our work. More human intervention means more error and thus we sometimes miss our mark. So in the future, we would move towards making it totally machine-oriented. Over the next few years, we feel there will be a lot more automation and that will directly turn into high return on investment for companies and better suggestions from the machine and AI technology.
Just like when you go to a physical store human eyes can see what they want to buy. That is also going to happen to customers when they go to a website. For each customer, product placements on websites will be different pertaining to their buying preferences and will also be sorted by their purchasing power. In a way we are moving towards personalized websites for every customer.
Social media: Supporting customers on the ‘edge’
Digital technologies make organizations function smoothly and business function processes efficient.
I think requests via social media are made more out of frustration
Kia Puhm, Head, KIA CX Consulting
Messaging through voice - that’s the trend that I see emerging in the near future
James Waters, Vice President of Customer Service, Booking.com
Top performing companies will use technology to make the human experience better
Ed Powers, Independent CX Consultant
AI-based chatbots are central to transforming CX for next-gen customers
Rajesh Balaji, Global Delivery Leader, Enterprise Application Service, Cognizant
I believe chatbots will be custom-built for different situations
Pradyot Ghate, Associate Vice President and Product Lead, Zomato
We live at crossroads of rapidly changing customer experience today
Immanuel Kingsley, VP and Head of Innovation Lab, Hexaware