Data Driven Enterprise – Part I: Building an effective Data Strategy for competitive edge
Few Enterprises take full advantage of data generated outside their walls. A well-structured data strategy for using external data can provide a competitive edge. Many enterprises have made great strides in collecting and utilizing data from their own activities. So far, though, comparatively few have realized the full potential of linking internal data with data provided by third parties, vendors, or public data sources. Overlooking such external data is a missed opportunity. Organizations that stay abreast of the expanding external-data ecosystem and successfully integrate a broad spectrum of external data into their operations can outperform other companies by unlocking improvements in growth, productivity, and risk management.
The COVID-19 crisis provides an example of just how relevant external data can be. In a few short months, consumer purchasing habits, activities, and digital behavior changed dramatically, making preexisting consumer research, forecasts, and predictive models obsolete. Moreover, as organizations scrambled to understand these changing patterns, they discovered little of use in their internal data. Meanwhile, a wealth of external data could—and still can—help organizations plan and respond at a granular level. Although external-data sources offer immense potential, they also present several practical challenges. To start, simply gaining a basic understanding of what’s available requires considerable effort, given that the external-data environment is fragmented and expanding quickly. Thousands of data products can be obtained through a multitude of channels—including data brokers, data aggregators, and analytics platforms—and the number grows every day. Analyzing the quality and economic value of data products also can be difficult. Moreover, efficient usage and operationalization of external data may require updates to the organization’s existing data environment, including changes to systems and infrastructure. Companies also need to remain cognizant of privacy concerns and consumer scrutiny when they use some types of external data.
These challenges are considerable but surmountable. This blog series discusses the benefits of tapping external-data sources, illustrated through a variety of examples, and lays out best practices for getting started. These include establishing an external-data strategy team and developing relationships with data brokers and marketplace partners. Company leaders, such as the executive sponsor of a data effort and a chief data and analytics officer, and their data-focused teams should also learn how to rigorously evaluate and test external data before using and operationalizing the data at scale.
External-data success stories: Companies across industries have begun successfully using external data from a variety of sources . The investment community is a pioneer in this space. To predict outcomes and generate investment returns, analysts and data scientists in investment firms have gathered “alternative data” from a variety of licensed and public data sources, many of which draw from the “digital exhaust” of a growing number of technology companies and the public web. Investment firms have established teams that assess hundreds of these data sources and providers and then test their effectiveness in investment decisions.
A broad range of data sources are used, and these inform investment decisions in a variety of ways:
- Investors actively gather job postings, company reviews posted by employees, employee-turnover data from professional networking and career websites, and patent filings to understand company strategy and predict financial performance and organizational growth.
- Analysts use aggregated transaction data from card processors and digital-receipt data to understand the volume of purchases by consumers, both online and offline, and to identify which products are increasing in share. This gives them a better understanding of whether traffic is declining or growing, as well as insights into cross-shopping behaviors.
- Investors study app downloads and digital activity to understand how consumer preferences are changing and how effective an organization’s digital strategy is relative to that of its peers. For instance, app downloads, activity, and rating data can provide a window into the success rates of the myriad of live-streaming exercise offerings that have become available over the last year.
Corporations have also started to explore how they can derive more value from external data . For example, a large insurer transformed its core processes, including underwriting, by expanding its use of external-data sources from a handful to more than 40 in the span of two years. The effort involved was considerable; it required prioritization from senior leadership, dedicated resources, and a systematic approach to testing and applying new data sources. The hard work paid off, increasing the predictive power of core models by more than 20 percent and dramatically reducing application complexity by allowing the insurer to eliminate many of the questions it typically included on customer applications.
Three steps to creating value with external data:
Use of external data has the potential to be game changing across a variety of business functions and sectors. The journey toward successfully using external data has three key steps.
1. Establish a dedicated team for external-data sourcing
To get started, organizations should establish a dedicated data-sourcing team. Per our understanding at AIQRATE , a key role on this team is a dedicated data scout or strategist who partners with the data-analytics team and business functions to identify operational, cost, and growth improvements that could be powered by external data. This person also would be responsible for building excitement around what can be made possible through the use of external data, planning the use cases to focus on, identifying and prioritizing data sources for investigation, and measuring the value generated through use of external data. Ideal candidates for this role are individuals who have served as analytics translators and who have experience in deploying analytics use cases and in working with technology, business, and analytics profiles.
The other team members, who should be drawn from across functions, would include purchasing experts, data engineers, data scientists and analysts, technology experts, and data-review-board members . These team members typically spend only part of their time supporting the data-sourcing effort. For example, the data analysts and data scientists may already be supporting data cleaning and modeling for a specific use case and help the sourcing work stream by applying the external data to assess its value. The purchasing expert, already well versed in managing contracts, will build specialization on data-specific licensing approaches to support those efforts.
Throughout the process of finding and using external data, companies must keep in mind privacy concerns and consumer scrutiny, making data-review roles essential peripheral team members. Data reviewers, who typically include legal, risk, and business leaders, should thoroughly vet new consumer data sets—for example, financial transactions, employment data, and cell-phone data indicating when and where people have entered retail locations. The vetting process should ensure that all data were collected with appropriate permissions and will be used in a way that abides by relevant data-privacy laws and passes muster with consumer.This team will need a budget to procure small exploratory data sets, establish relationships with data marketplaces (such as by purchasing trial licenses), and pay for technology requirements (such as expanded data storage).
2. Develop relationships with data marketplaces and aggregators
While online searches may appear to be an easy way for data-sourcing teams to find individual data sets, that approach is not necessarily the most effective. It generally leads to a series of time-consuming vendor-by-vendor discussions and negotiations. The process of developing relationships with a vendor, procuring sample data, and negotiating trial agreements often takes months. A more effective strategy involves using data-marketplace and -aggregation platforms that specialize in building relationships with hundreds of data sources, often in specific data domains—for example, consumer, real-estate, government, or company data. These relationships can give organizations ready access to the broader data ecosystem through an intuitive search-oriented platform, allowing organizations to rapidly test dozens or even hundreds of data sets under the auspices of a single contract and negotiation. Since these external-data distributors have already profiled many data sources, they can be valuable thought partners and can often save an external-data team significant time. When needed, these data distributors can also help identify valuable data products and act as the broker to procure the data.
Once the team has identified a potential data set, the team’s data engineers should work directly with business stakeholders and data scientists to evaluate the data and determine the degree to which the data will improve business outcomes. To do so, data teams establish evaluation criteria, assessing data across a variety of factors to determine whether the data set has the necessary characteristics for delivering valuable insights . Data assessments should include an examination of quality indicators, such as fill rates, coverage, bias, and profiling metrics, within the context of the use case. For example, a transaction data provider may claim to have hundreds of millions of transactions that help illuminate consumer trends. However, if the data include only transactions made by millennial consumers, the data set will not be useful to a company seeking to understand broader, generation-agnostic consumer trends.
3. Prepare the data architecture for new external-data streams
Generating a positive return on investment from external data calls for up-front planning, a flexible data architecture, and ongoing quality-assurance testing.Up-front planning starts with an assessment of the existing data environment to determine how it can support ingestion, storage, integration, governance, and use of the data. The assessment covers issues such as how frequently the data come in, the amount of data, how data must be secured, and how external data will be integrated with internal data. This will provide insights about any necessary modifications to the data architecture.
Modifications should be designed to ensure that the data architecture is flexible enough to support the integration of a continuous “conveyor belt” of incoming data from a variety of data sources—for example, by enabling application-programming-interface (API) calls from external sources along with entity-resolution capabilities to intelligently link the external data to internal data. In other cases, it may require tooling to support large-scale data ingestion, querying, and analysis. Data architecture and underlying systems can be updated over time as needs mature and evolve.The final process in this step is ensuring an appropriate and consistent level of quality by constantly monitoring the data used. This involves examining data regularly against the established quality framework to identify whether the source data have changed and to understand the drivers of any changes (for example, schema updates, expansion of data products, change in underlying data sources). If the changes are significant, algorithmic models leveraging the data may need to be retrained or even rebuilt.
Minimizing risk and creating value with external data will require a unique mix of creative problem solving, organizational capability building, and laser-focused execution. That said, business leaders who demonstrate the achievements possible with external data can capture the imagination of the broader leadership team and build excitement for scaling beyond early pilots and tests. An effective route is to begin with a small team that is focused on using external data to solve a well-defined problem and then use that success to generate momentum for expanding external-data efforts across the organization.
AIQRATE in 2020 ….A walk to remember
“Enabling clients reimagine their decision making & accentuate the business performance with AI strategy in a transformation, innovation and disruption driven world”
In today’s fast paced & volatile VUCA world, leaders face unprecedented challenges. They need to navigate through volatility while staying focused on strategy, business performance and culture. Artificial Intelligence is fast becoming a game changing catalyst and a strategic differentiator and almost a panacea to solve large, complex and unresolved problems. To be an AI powered organization, leaders not only need to have a broad understanding of AI strategy, they need to know how and where to use it. AIQRATE advisory services and consulting offerings are designed to enable leaders and decision makers from Enterprises, GCCs, Cloud Providers, Technology players, Startups, SMBs, VC/PE firms, Public Institutions and Academic Institutions to become AI ready and reduce the risk associated with curating, deploying AI strategy and ensuing interventions and increase the predictability of a durable leader’s success.
In the age of the bionic enterprises, AI continues to dominate the technology & business landscape. Under the aegis of transformation, disruption and innovation, AI has several applications and impact areas which usher a new change in how we make decisions in the enterprise and personal spheres. Traditionally, human decisions are to a large extent based on intuition, gut and historical data. In the age of AI, several of our decisions will be taken by algorithms. Leveraging AI, the ability to mimic the human brain and the ensuing ability to sense, comprehend and act will significantly go up and will result in emergence of augmented intelligence in decision making. Enterprises, GCCs, SMBs, Startups and Government Institutions are attempting to harness the power of AI to change the way they do business. All these industry segments are looking at AI becoming the secret sauce behind making them gain a competitive advantage. If you have not started yet, you are already behind the competition, however large or pedigreed you might be.
So, where are you placed on your AI journey? At AIQRATE, we can guide you on your journey of understanding what AI can do for you, embedding it within your business strategy, functional areas and augmenting the decision-making process.
At AIQRATE, we are here to help you with the art of the possible with AI. Through our bespoke AI strategy frameworks, methodologies, toolkits, playbooks and assessments, we will bring seamless Transformation, Innovation and Disruption to your businesses. Leveraging our proven repository of consulting templates and artifacts, we will curate your AI strategic approach roadmap. Our advisory offerings and consulting engagements are designed in alignment with your strategic growth, vision and competitive scenarios.
We are at an inflection point where AI will revolutionize the way we do business. The paradigms of customer, products, offerings, services and competition will change dramatically; and being AI-ready will become a true differentiator. AIQRATE will be your strategic partner to help you to prepare for what’s next in order to stay relevant.
Wish you a great 2021!
Chief Executive Officer
Bangalore , India
AI led Algorithms can decide on how we need to emote, behave, react, transact or interact with an individual – Sameer with SCIKEY
AI led Algorithms can decide on how we need to emote, behave, react, transact or interact with an individual – Sameer with SCIKEY
In an exclusive interaction with SCIKEY, Sameer Dhanrajani, CEO at AIQRATE Advisory & Consulting, speaks about how the future of work will look like enabled by AI, and it’s contribution in building productive teams and the emerging AI trends to watch out for in Post COVID scenario.
“AI led algorithms can decide on how we need to emote, behave, react, transact or interact with an individual,” Sameer Dhanranjani
Sameer is a globally recognized AI advisor, business builder, evangelist and thought leader known for his deep knowledge, strategic consulting approaches in AI space. Sameer has consulted with several Fortune 500 global enterprises, Indian corporations , GCCs, startups , SMBs, VC/PE firms, Academic Institutions in driving AI led strategic transformation and innovation strategies. Sameer is a renowned author, columnist, blogger and four times Tedx speaker. He is an author of bestselling book – AI and Analytics: accelerating business decisions.
In an exclusive interaction with SCIKEY, Sameer Dhanranjani, CEO at AIQRATE advisory consulting, speaks about how the future of work will look like enabled by AI, and it’s contribution in building productive teams and the emerging AI trends to watch out for in Post COVID scenario.
Mr Dhanranjani, you have consulted with several Fortune 500 enterprises, GCCs also start-ups in driving AI-led strategic transformation strategies. What according to you, are the topmost strategic considerations to weigh for managing accelerating business in Post COVID world for a start-up?
The unprecedented times of COVID-19 have brought the aspect of decision making under consideration. This includes tactical, strategic, and operational decision making that is crucial to make the venture more sustainable. Today the use of artificial intelligence is quite high amongst organizations. It can be used by start-up ventures and other outfits to make decisions irrespective of the area that needs decision making.
Most decisions that need to be made strategically are being passed on to artificial intelligence-enabled interventions. The algorithm makes similar decisions based on the previous decisions taken. Algorithms can decide how we need to emote, behave, react, transact or interact with the opposite individual This advancement in AI brings the challenge for organizations to create products and services specific to each customer through hyper-personalization and micro-segmenting. However, it can also be considered as an opportunity for organizations to emerge from the pandemic with newer business models and experiences for customers. Start-ups, especially, can make use of such advancements to reinvent and rejuvenate the organizational ecosystem.
You are known for your passion for Artificial Intelligence and are an author to the bestselling book – AI and Analytics: Accelerating Business Decisions. Tell us where how can AI be strategically significant while building productive teams.
My experience has led me to deal with engagements in the entire value chain of HR, ranging from hiring to engagement to incentivization that has leveraged using AI. It is phenomenal to see how AI can help build, engage, and sustain productive teams. AI can help in hiring through the detection emotions, facial expressions, tone modulations of the interviewee through computer vision and image classification techniques.
In the creation of productive teams, AI can gauge the engagement levels of an employee. It tries to look at the various interventions made by an employee regarding their attendance, participation in virtual meetings, and propensity to ask and engage themselves in conversations. It also keeps in check the number of pauses, intervals, and breaks taken by an employee. Every aspect of the employee is being marked to see how productive, inclusive, as an individual and in teams.
What are the top 5 AI trends to watch out for in Post COVID the scenario of the next one year?
When it comes to AI, the first trend emerging is that AI is not a tool or a technology, but it is now being touted as a strategic imperative for any organization. This means that AI strategies will become an intrinsic part and feature of every organisation.
The second trend is the democratization of AI. There is a possibility of the emergence of an AI marketplace where virtual exchanges related to business problems, demo runs etc. can be conducted. One would actually be able to figure out which algorithm is best for them in customer experience, supply chain etc.
The third trend being the cloud will act as a catalyst for AI proliferation. The propensity for cloud providers to enable AI companies with possible aspects of microservice API’s, Product Solutions will be created on the go. This means that the cloud enablers will have options to see various possibilities specific to their organisation when it comes to AI-specific use cases.
The fourth trend is linked to skilling. AI today is a part of a lot of course curriculums. But what is missing is the whole aspect of how does it get applied? The new courseware will be focused on how is AI implemented, adopted in the organization.
The last fifth trend is decision-making enabled by AI, which means humans will have no option but to upskill and reskill themselves to take a more rational, pragmatic and sanguine approach. So new models, new emerging realities of decision making will emerge.
How is AI powering the Future of Work, what are critical considerations for business and tech leaders considering the rapidly changing business dynamics due to COVID?
The future of work will be about AI and what we call AI plus a set of exponential technologies. This means that every aspect of our performance interaction and our responses will be gauged very manually through these technologies. This indicates that the level of performances in terms of how we go up-to-date needs to be worked upon. The future of work is an ecosystem where one particular employer cannot do it all.
This means that if learning must occur through an external player, it must come through the ecosystem of co-employees and the employer. In the future, we will not be caged as mere professionals doing our job but will be encouraged to push our boundaries to explore more at work. At the same time, transformation, innovation, and disruption will be a part of the future’s performance metrics. They will become a major parameter for the organization to create a mediocre versus proficient employee or a professional. This is where the onus will fall on the employees to ensure that they are not just doing what is being called out, but are going beyond to create what we call a value creation for the organisation.
SCIKEY Market Network is a Digital Marketplace for Jobs, Work Business solutions, supported by a Professional Network and an integrated Services Ecosystem. It enables enterprises, businesses, job seekers, freelancers, and gig workers around the world. With its online events, learning certifications, assessments, ranking awards, content promotion tools, SaaS solutions for business, a global consulting ecosystem, and more, companies can get the best deals in one place.
‘SCIKEY Assured,’ a premium managed services offering by SCIKEY, delivers the best outcomes to enterprise customers globally for talent and technology solutions getting delivered offshore, remotely, or on-premise. We are super-proud to be working with some of the world’s most iconic Fortune1000 brands.
Better Work. Better Business. Better Life. Better World.
REPORT: Data Engineering 4.0: Evolution, Emergence and Possibilities in the next decade
Today, most technology aficionados think of data engineering as the capabilities associated with traditional data preparation and data integration including data cleansing, data normalization and standardization, data quality, data enrichment, metadata management and data governance. But that definition of data engineering is insufficient to derive and drive new sources of society, business and operational value. The Field of Data Engineering brings together data management (data cleansing, quality, integration, enrichment, governance) and data science (machine learning, deep learning, data lakes, cloud) functions and includes standards, systems design and architectures.
There are two critical economic-based principles that will underpin the field of Data Engineering:
Principle #1: Curated data never depletes, never wears out and can be used an unlimited number of use cases at a near zero marginal cost.
Principle #2: Data assets appreciate, not depreciate, in value the more that they are used; that is, the more these data assets are used, the more accurate, more reliable, more efficient and safer they become.
There have been significant exponential technology advancements in the past few years ; data engineering is the most topical of them. Burgeoning data velocity , data trajectory , data insertion , data mediation & wrangling , data lakes & cloud security & infrastructure have revolutionized the data engineering stream. Data engineering has reinvented itself from being passive data aggregation tools from BI/DW arena to critical to business function. As unprecedented advancements are slated to occur in the next few years, there is a need for additional focus on data engineering. The foundations of AI acceleration is underpinned by robust data engineering capabilities.
YourStory & AIQRATE curated and unveiled a seminal report on “Data Engineering 4.0: Evolution , Emergence & Possibilities in the next decade.” A first in the area , the report covers a broad spectrum on key drivers of growth for Data Engineering 4.0 and highlights the incremental impact of data engineering in the time to come due to emergence of 5G , Quantum Computing & Cloud Infrastructure. The report also covers a comprehensive section on applications across industry segments of smart cities , autonomous vehicles , smart factories and the ensuing adoption of data engineering capabilities in these segments. Further , it dwells on the significance of incubating data engineering capabilities for deep tech startups for gaining competitive edge and enumerates salient examples of data driven companies in India that are leveraging data engineering prowess . The report also touches upon the data legislation and privacy aspects by proposing certain regulations and suggesting revised ones to ensure end to end protection of individual rights , security & safety of the ecosystem. Data Engineering 4.0 will be an overall trojan horse in the exponential technology landscape and much of the adoption acceleration that AI needs to drive ; will be dependent on the advancements in data engineering area.
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REPORT: Reimagine The Future of Work with New Age Opportunities
The management of talent has always been and continues to be a major challenge for most industries. This is particularly true for knowledge based industries like information technology. The dramatically changing dynamics of the Indian Technology industry compound the challenges and opportunities faced by the industry.
Never since the advent of mass production has an industry seen such dramatic volatility in such short period of time. The revolution before primarily added to the productivity of the labor and moved across the globe. The current revolution is not merely transcending national borders – it is redefining jobs, eliminating others and creating new opportunities.
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AI-Driven Disruption And Transformation: New Business Segments To Novel Market Opportunities
There’s little doubt that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is driving the decisive strategic elements in multiple industries, and algorithms are sitting at the core of every business model and in the enterprise DNA. Conventional wisdom, based on no small amount of research, holds that the rise of AI will usher radical, disruptive changes in the incumbent industries and sectors in the next five to 10 years.
Additionally, it’s never been a better time to launch an AI venture. Investments in AI-focused ventures have grown 1800% in just six years. The rationale behind these numbers comes, in part, from the fact that enterprises expect AI to enable them to move into new business segments, or to maintain a competitive edge in their industry.
Strategists believe this won’t come as a surprise to CXOs and decision-makers as acceleration of AI adoption and proliferation of smart, intuitive and ML algorithms spawn the creation of new industries and business segments and overall, trigger new opportunities for business monetization. However, a few questions loom large for CXOs: How will these new industries and business segments be created with AI? And, what strategic shifts can leadership make to monetize these new business opportunities?
The creation of new industries and business segments depends on dramatic advances in AI that can take a swift adoption journey to move from discovery to commercial application to a new industry. New industry segments around AI are in the making and are far from tapped. A cursory look at new age businesses: Micro-segmented, hyper-personalized online shopping platforms, GPS driven ride-sharing companies, recommendation-driven streaming channels, adaptive learning based EdTech companies, conversational AI-driven new and work scheduling are just a few of the imminent and visible examples. Yet a lot more can be done in this space.
AI adoption brings intentional efforts to adapt to this onslaught of algorithms and how it’s affecting customer and employee behavior. As algorithms become a permanent fixture in everyday life, organizations are forced to update legacy technology strategies and supporting methodologies to better reflect how the real world is evolving. And the need to do so is becoming increasingly obligatory.
On the other side, traditional and incumbent enterprises are reverse engineering investments, processes, and systems to better align with how markets are changing. Because it’s focusing on customer behavior, AI is actually in its own way, making businesses more human. As such, Artificial Intelligence is not specifically about technology, it’s empowered by it. Without an end in mind, self-learning algorithms continually seek out how to use technology in ways that improve customer experiences and relationships. It also represents an effort that introduces new models for business and, equally, creates a way of staying in business as customers become increasingly aware and selective.
Today, AI expertise is focused more on developing commercial applications that optimize efficiencies in existing industries and is focused less on developing patented algorithms that could lead to new industries. These efficiencies are accelerating the sectoral consolidation and convergence, and are less about new industry creation.
However, AI’s most potent, long-term economic use may just be to augment the discovery and pursuit of solving large, complex and unresolved problems that could be the foundations of new industry segments. Enterprises have started realizing the significance of having a long-term strategic interest and investments in using AI in this way. Yet few of the above mentioned examples are testimony to AI triggering new industry segments and business opportunities. The real winners in the algorithm-driven economy will be business leaders that align their strategies to augment AI expertise from ground zero, keep a continuous tab on blockbuster algorithms, and redefine new business segments that enable monetization of new opportunities.
AI has immense potential to jumpstart the creation of new industries and the disruption of existing ones. The curation of this as a strategic roadmap for business leaders is far from easy, but it carries great rewards for businesses. It takes a village to bring about change, and it also takes the spark and perseverance of an AI strategist to spot important trends and create a sense of urgency around new possibilities.
Reimagining the future of travel and hospitality with artificial intelligence
Over the years, the influence of artificial intelligence (AI) has spread to almost every aspect of the travel and the hospitality industry. Thirty percent of hospitality businesses use AI to augment at least one of their primary sales processes, and most customer personalisation is done using AI. The proliferation of AI in the travel and hospitality industry can be credited to the humongous amount of data being generated today. AI helps analyse data from obvious sources, brings value in assimilating patterns in image, voice, video, and text, and turns it into meaningful and actionable insights for decision making. Trends, outliers, and patterns are figured out using machine learning-based algorithms that help in guiding a travel or hospitality company to make informed decisions.
“Discounts, schemes, tour packages, and seasons and travellers to target are formulated using this intelligent data combined with behavioural science and social media attribution to know customers behaviour and insights. “
Let’s take a close look at the AI-driven application areas in the travel and hospitality industry and the impact on the ensuing business value chain:
Bespoke and curated experiences
There are always a few trailblazers who are up for a new challenge and adopt new-age exponential technologies. Many hotel chains have started using an AI concierge. One great example of an AI concierge is Hilton World wide’s Connie, the first true AI-powered concierge bot. Connie stands at two feet high and guests can interact with it during their check-in. Connie is powered by IBM’s Watson AI and uses the Way Blazer travel database. It can provide succinct information to guests on local attractions, places to visit, etc. Being AI-driven with self-learning ability, it can learn and adapt and respond to each guest on personalised basis.
In the travel business, Mezi, using AI with Natural Language Processing technique, provides a personalised experience to business travellers, who usually are strapped for time. It talks about bringing on a concept of bleisure (business+leisure) to address the needs of the workforce. The company’s research shows that 84 percent of business travellers return feeling frustrated, burnt out, and unmotivated. The kind of tedious and monotonous planning that goes into the travel booking could be the reason for it. With AI and NLP, Mezi collects individual preferences and generates personalised suggestions so that a bespoke and streamlined experience is given and the issues faced are addressed properly.
Intelligent travel search
Increased productivity now begins with the search for the hotel, and sophisticated AI usage has paved the way for the customer to access more data than ever before. Booking sites like Lola.com provides on-demand travel services and have developed algorithms that can not only instantly connect people to their team of travel agents who find and book flights, hotels, and cars, but have been able to empower their agents with tremendous technology to make research and decisions an easy process.
Intelligent travel assistants
Chatbot technology is another big strand of AI, and not surprisingly, many travel brands have already launched their own versions in the past year or so. Skyscanner is just one example, creating an intelligent bot to help consumers find flights in Facebook Messenger. Users can also use it to request travel recommendations and random suggestions. Unlike ecommerce or retail brands using chatbots, which can appear gimmicky, there is an argument that examples like Skyscanner are much more relevant and useful for everyday consumers. After all, with the arrival of many more travel search websites, consumers are being overwhelmed by choice – not necessarily helped by it. Consequently, a chatbot like Skyscanner is able to cut through the noise, connecting with consumers in their own time and in the social media spaces they most frequently visit.
Recently, Aero Mexico started using Facebook Messenger chatbot to answer very generic customer questions. The main idea was to cater to 80 percent of questions, which are usually repeat ones and about common topics. Thus, AI is of great application to avoid a repetitive process. Airlines hugely benefit from this. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines uses AI to respond to the queries of customers on Twitter and Facebook. It uses an algorithm from a company called Digital Genius, which is trained on 60,000 questions and answers. Not only this, Deutsche Lufthansa’s bot Mildred can help in searching the cheapest fares.
International hotel search engine Trivago acquired Hamburg, Germany machine learning startup Tripl as it ramps up its product with recommendation and personalisation technology, giving them a customer-centric approach. The AI algorithm gives tailored travel recommendations by identifying trends in users’ social media activities and comparing it with in-app data of like-minded users. With its launch, users could sign up only through Facebook, potentially sharing oodles of profile information such as friends, relationship status, hometown, and birthdays.
Persona-based travel recommendations, use of customised pictures and text are now gaining ground to entice travel. KePSLA’s travel recommendation platform is one of the first in the world to do this by using deep learning and NLP solutions. With 81 percent of people believing that intelligent machines would be better at handling data than humans, there is also a certain level of confidence in this area from consumers.
Knowing your traveller
Dorchester Collection is another hotel chain to make use of AI. However, instead of using it to provide a front-of-house service, it has adopted it to interpret and analyse customer behaviour deeply in the form of raw data. Partnering with technology company, Richey TX, Dorchester Collection has helped to develop an AI platform called Metis.
Delving into swathes of customer feedback such as surveys and reviews (which would take an inordinate amount of time to manually find and analyse), it is able to measure performance and instantly discover what really matters to guests. Métis helped Dorchester to discover that breakfast it not merely an expectation – but something guests place huge importance on. As a result, the hotels began to think about how they could enhance and personalise the breakfast experience.
Intelligent forecasting: flight fares and hotel tariffs
Flight fares and hotel tariffs are dynamic and vary on real-time basis, depending on the provider. No one has time to track all those changes manually. Thus, intelligent algorithms that monitor and send out timely alerts with hot deals are currently in high demand in the travel industry.
Trivago and Make my trip are screening through swamp of data points, variables, and demand and supply patterns to recommend optimised travel and hotel prices. The AltexSoft data science team has built such an innovative fare predictor tool for one of their clients, a global online travel agency, Fareboom.com. Working on its core product, a digital travel booking website, they could access and collect historical data about millions of fare searches going back several years. Armed with such information, they created a self-learning algorithm, capable of predicting future price movements based on a number of factors, such as seasonal trends, demand growth, airlines special offers, and deals.
Optimised disruption management: delays and cancellations
While the previous case is focused mostly on planning trips and helping users navigate most common issues while traveling, automated disruption management is somewhat different. It aims at resolving actual problems a traveller might face on his/her way to a destination point. Mostly applied to business and corporate travel, disruption management is always a time-sensitive task, requiring instant response.
While the chances of getting impacted by a storm or a volcano eruption are very small, the risk of a travel disruption is still quite high: there are thousands of delays and several hundreds of cancelled flights every day. With the recent advances in AI, it became possible to predict such disruptions and efficiently mitigate the loss for both the traveller and the carrier. The 4site tool, built by Cornerstone Information Systems, aims to enhance the efficiency of enterprise travel.
The product caters to travellers, travel management companies, and enterprise clients, providing a unique set of features for real-time travel disruption management. In an instance, if there is a heavy snowfall at your destination point and all flights are redirected to another airport, a smart assistant can check for available hotels there or book a transfer from your actual place of arrival to your initial destination.
Not only are passengers are affected by travel disruptions; airlines bear significant losses every time a flight is cancelled or delayed. Thus, Amadeus, one of the leading global distribution systems (GDS), has introduced a Schedule Recovery system, aiming to help airlines mitigate the risks of travel disruption. The tool helps airlines instantly address and efficiently handle any threats and disruptions in their operations.
Future potential: So, reflecting on the above-mentioned use cases of the travel and hospitality industry leveraging Ai to a large extent, there will be few latent potential areas in the industry that will embrace AI in the future :
“Undoubtedly, we will witness many travel and hospitality organisations using AI for intelligent recommendations as well as launching their own chatbots. There’s already been a suggestion that Expedia is next in line, but it is reportedly set to focus on business travel rather than holidaymakers.”
Due to the greater need for structure and less of a desire for discovery, it certainly makes sense that AI would be more suited to business travellers. Specifically, it could help to simplify the booking process for companies, and help eliminate discrepancies around employee expenses. With reducing costs and improving efficiency two of the biggest benefits, AI could start to infiltrate business travel even more so than leisure in the next 12 months.
Lastly, we can expect to see greater development in conversational AI in the industry. With voice-activated search, the experience of researching and booking travel has the potential to become quicker and easier than ever before. Similarly, as Amazon Echo and Google Home start to become commonplace, more hotels could start to experiment with speech recognition to ramp up customer service. This means devices and bots could become the norm for brands in the travel and hospitality industry.
The travel and hospitality industry transformation will morph into experience-driven and asset-light business, and wide adoption of AI will usher a new-age customer experience and set a benchmark for other industries to emulate. Fasten your seat belts … AI will redefine the travel and hospitality industry.
AI for Strategic Innovation
The extra ordinary promise of AI : Global & Indian enterprises have a lot to gain from unleashing innovation with AI —but harnessing their potential demands focused investment and a new way of working with external partners.
Here are few salient features of how AI has become game changing trend in spurring innovation; existing challenges and few strategic approaches of unlocking innovation with AI :
- 22% growth : From 2015 through 2019, disclosed private investment in seven deep tech sectors grew an average of 22% per year, equaling nearly $60 billion in total investment. Corporate venture capital is also playing an increasingly active role.
- Total investment : Nearly $60 Billion Invested in Deep Tech’s Fastest-Growing Sectors in 2019; Artificial intelligence corners close to $25 Bn
- About 1800 AI led startups in the US accounted for roughly half of this total investment, but other countries are catching up fast.
- Complex ecosystems : Multiple types of players including startups, venture capital firms, governments, universities and research centers, and early-adopter user groups
- Dynamic Interactions : Few central orchestrators; business relationships based on informal networks rather than formal contracts
Strategic approaches of unlocking innovation with AI :
- Cooperate in order to compete : Think beyond the enterprise’s immediate goals; commit to a long-term vision for the development of the ecosystem as whole
- Identify capabilities that add value : Define what the enterprise can offer to nurture the ecosystem and bring AI to market—not only money but also access to customers, data, networks, mentors, and technical experts
- Don’t pick winners in advance : AI startups are evolving rapidly. Continuously monitor the ecosystem to identify successful startups, applications, and business models as they emerge
- Blur the boundaries with partners : Make it easy for AI partners to navigate your corporate system. Define a clear role for them in your innovation strategy, ensure senior-executive sponsorship, and engage the core businesses
- Streamline decision making and governance : Success requires partnering more nimbly with fast-moving AI startups. Embrace agile ways of working.
- Develop breakthrough solutions by combining expertise from previously unconnected fields or industries. Be alert for game hanging opportunities that deliver both economic and social value.
AI will transform business and society in the future. The time to craft a AI strategy for unleashing innovation is now.
AIQRATE works closely with global & Indian enterprises , GCCs , VC/PE firms and has an extensive yet curated database of 1000 + global AI startups , boutique and niche firms benchmarked on our “Glow Curve” assessment.
(AIQRATE advisory & consulting is a bespoke AI advisory and consulting firm and provide strategic advisory services to boards , CXOs, senior leaders to curate , design building blocks of AI strategy , embed AI@scale interventions and create AI powered enterprises . visit : www.aiqrate.ai ; reach out to us at email@example.com )
AI led strategy for business transformation : A guided approach for CXOs
Business transformation programs have long focused on productivity enhancements —taking a “better, faster, cheaper” approach to how the enterprise works. And for good reason: disciplined efforts can boost productivity as well as accountability, transparency, execution, and the pace of decision making. When it comes to delivering fast results to the bottom line, it’s a proven recipe that works.
The problem is, it’s no longer enough. Artificial Intelligence enabled disruption are upending industry after industry, pressuring incumbent companies not only to scratch out stronger financial returns but also to remake who and what they are as enterprises.
Doing the first is hard enough. Tackling the second—changing what your company is and does—requires understanding where the value is shifting in your industry (and in others), spotting opportunities in the inflection points, and taking purposeful actions to seize them. The prospect of doing both jobs at once is sobering.
How realistic is it to think your company can pull it off? The good news is that AIQRATE can demonstrate that it’s entirely possible for organizations to ramp up their bottom-line performance even as they secure game-changing portfolio wins that redefine what a company is and does. What’s more, AL led transformations that focus on the organization’s performance and portfolio appear to load the dice in favor of transformation results. By developing these two complementary sets of muscles, companies can aspire to flex them in a coordinated way, using performance improvements to carry them to the next set of portfolio moves, which in turn creates momentum propelling the company to the next level.
Strategic Steps towards AI led Transformation:
This aspect covers AI led “portfolio-related” moves. The first is active resource reallocation towards building AI led transformation units, which I define as the company shifting more than 20 percent of its capital spending across its businesses or markets over ten years. Such firms create 50 percent more value than counterparts that shift resources at a slower clip.
Meanwhile, a big move in programmatic M&A driven by AI led spot trending—the type of deal making that produces more reliable performance boosts than any other—requires the company to execute at least one deal per year, cumulatively amounting to more than 30 percent of a company’s market capitalization over ten years, and with no single deal being more than 30 percent of its market capitalization.
Making big moves tends to reduce the risk profile and adds more upside than downside. The way I explain this to senior executives is that when you’re parked on the side of a volcano, staying put is your riskiest move.
AI led Transformations that go ‘all in’ by addressing both a company’s performance and its portfolio yield the highest odds.
The implication of these transformation stories is clear: approaches that go all in by addressing both a company’s performance and its portfolio yield the highest odds of lasting improvement. Over the course of a decade, companies that followed this path nearly tripled their likelihood of reaching the top quin tile of the AI transformation power curve relative to the average company in the middle.
Play to win with AI
Life would be simpler if story ended here. However, you’re not operating in a competitive vacuum. As I described earlier, other forces influence your odds of success in significant ways—in particular, how your industry is performing. Research studies have indicated that companies facing competitive headwinds would face longer odds of success than those with tailwinds.
Companies that combined big performance moves with big portfolio moves (including capital expenditures, when not the only portfolio move employed) saw a big lift in their odds. Life is still challenging for these companies—their net odds are dead even—yet this is superior to the negative odds of the other situations.
Winning thru competitive advantage with AI
In an improving industry, the returns to performance improvement are amplified massively. This runs contrary to the very human tendency of equating performance transformations with turnaround cases
The takeaway from all this is that two big rules stand out as commonly and powerfully true whatever your context: first, get moving with AI , don’t be static; second, go all in if you can with AI led transformation programs —it’s always the best outcome (and also the rarest).
Running the AI led transformation program
In my experience, the companies that are most successful at transforming themselves with AI ,sequence their moves so that the rapid lift of performance improvement provides oxygen and confidence for big moves in M&A, capital investment, and resource reallocation. And when the right portfolio moves aren’t immediately available or aren’t clear, the improved performance helps buy a company time until the strategy can catch up.
To illustrate this point, consider the anecdote about Apple that Professor Richard Rumelt describes in his book, Good Strategy/Bad Strategy. It was the late 1990s; Steve Jobs had returned to Apple and cleaned house through productivity-improving cutbacks and a radically simplified product line. Apple was much stronger, yet it remained a niche player in its industry. When Rumelt asked Jobs how he planned to address this fact, Jobs just smiled and said, ‘I am going to wait for the next big thing.’
While no one can guarantee that your “next big thing” will be an iPod-size breakthrough, there’s nothing stopping you from laying the groundwork for a successful AI led transformation. To see how prepared, you are for such an undertaking, ask yourself—and your team—the following five questions. I sincerely hope they provoke productive and transformative discussion among your team.
1.Where is the new business value chain that’s driven by AI
Achieving success with big, portfolio-related moves requires understanding where the business value flows in your business and why. The structural attractiveness of markets, and your position in them, can and does change over time. Ignore this and you might be shifting deck chairs on the Titanic. Meanwhile, to put this thinking into action, you must also view the company as an ever-changing portfolio. This represents a sea change for managers who are used to plodding, once-a-year strategy sessions that are more focused on “getting to yes” and on protecting turf than on debating real alternatives. Get high-powered decision-making algorithms to navigate you thru this transformation.
2. Put your money in building an AI led strategy
Only 10% of the US fortune 200 companies have AI led strategy; this is an impending strategic aspect that cannot be ignored. The dimensions of reimagining customer experience, building innovative products and services and transforming the businesses need to have an AI led strategy move by the CXOs
3.Are you ready for disruption?
Increasingly, incumbent organizations are getting to the pointy end of disruption, where they must accelerate the transition from legacy business models to new ones and even allow potentially cannibalizing businesses to flourish. Sometimes this requires a very deliberate two-speed approach where legacy assets are managed for cash while new businesses are nurtured for growth.
4.Will our company take this seriously?
Embracing AI led transformative change requires commitment, and gaining commitment requires a compelling change story that everyone in the company can embrace. Philips recognized this in 2011 when it launched its “Accelerate” program. Along with productivity improvements and portfolio changes (including a big pivot from electronics to health tech), the company shaped its change story around improving three billion lives annually by 2030, as part of a broader goal of making the world healthier and more sustainable through innovation. Massive thrust and investment was laid by Phillips leadership team on AI led transformation programs.
5.Is the leadership ready for the transformation?
Leading a successful AI led transformation requires a lot more than just picking the right moves and seeing them through. Among your other priorities: build momentum, engage your workforce, and make the change personal for yourself and your company. All of this means developing new leadership skills and ways of working, while embracing a level of commitment as a leader that may be unprecedented for you.
In the end, AI led strategy for transformation is a process and start of a journey …. embrace it or feel the heat of leaving behind. The new age competition is agile and nimble and AI led transformation strategy is a right move to thwart the competition.
AI led Strategy for Boards : The “new” strategy counselor
It’s time for boards to craft an AI led strategy . Three strategic aspects can help them and senior leaders to augment decision making process in the board meetings
In the boardroom, and the head of a major global conglomerate is in the hot seat. A director with a background in the manufacturing industry is questioning the economics, an assumption underlying the executive’s industry forecast: that the industry’s ratio of forecast will remain relatively constant. The business leader appears confident about the assumption of stability, which has implications for both the competitive environment and for financial results. But the director isn’t convinced: “In my experience, the forecast changes continuously with the economic cycle and needs to bake in assumptions,” he says, “and I’d feel a whole lot better about these estimates if you had some facts to prove that this has changed.” and the rest of the board doesn’t have it. Finally, the chairman intervenes: “The question being raised is critical and not just for our manufacturing business but for our entire strategy. We’re not going to resolve this today, but let’s make sure it’s covered thoroughly during our strategy off-site and he added , “let’s have some good staff work in place to inform the discussion.”
If the preceding exchange sounds familiar, it should: in the wake of the financial crisis, we find that uncomfortable conversations such as this one are increasingly common in boardrooms around the world as corporate directors and executives come to grips with a changed environment. Ensuring that a company has a great strategy is among a board’s most important functions and the ultimate measure of its stewardship. Yet even as new governance responsibilities and faster competitive shifts require much more—and much better—board engagement on strategy, a great number of boards remain hamstrung by familiar challenges.
Enter AI led strategy for boards
For starters, there’s the problem of time: most boards have about six to eight meetings a year and are often hard pressed to get beyond compliance-related topics to secure the breathing space needed for developing strategy. A recent survey of board members to learn where they’d most like to spend additional time, two out of three picked strategy. A related finding was that 44 percent of directors said their boards simply reviewed and approved management’s proposed strategies. Why such limited engagement? One likely reason is an expertise gap: only 10 percent of the directors felt that they fully understood the industry dynamics in which their companies operated. As a result, only 21 percent of them claimed to have a complete understanding of the current strategy .
What’s more, there’s often a mismatch between the time horizons of board members and of top executives , and that lack of alignment can diminish a board’s ability to engage in well-informed give-and-take about strategic trade-offs. “The chairman of my company has effectively been given a decade,” says the CEO of a company “and I have three years—tops—to make my mark. If I come up with a strategy that looks beyond the current cycle, I can never deliver the results expected from me. Yet I am supposed to work with him to create long-term shareholder value. How am I supposed to make this work?” It’s a fair question, particularly since recent shows that major strategic moves involving active capital reallocation deliver higher shareholder returns than more passive approaches over the long haul, but lower returns over time frames of less than three years.
Compounding these challenges is the increased economic volatility prompting many companies to rethink their strategic rhythm, so that it becomes less calendar driven and formulaic and more a journey involving frequent and regular dialogue among a broader group of executives. To remain relevant, boards must join management on this journey, and management in turn must bring the board along—all while ensuring that strategic co-creation doesn’t become confusion or, worse, shadow management. This is where curating AI strategy for competitive advantage and informed decision making comes to the picture.
Three strategic aspects to ponder on AI led strategy for Boards :
While no one-size-fits-all solution can guide companies as they set out, board members and senior managers ask themselves three simple questions as they approach the development of AI strategy. Using it should raise the quality of decision making , overall engagement and help determine the practical steps each group must take to get there. The usual annual strategic refresh is unlikely to provide the board with an appreciation of the context it would need to address the questions fully, let alone to generate fresh insights in response.
1.Can AI make the boards understand the industry dynamics
Most boards spend most of their strategic time reviewing plans, yet relatively few directors feel they have a complete understanding of the dynamics of the industries their companies operate in or even of how those companies create value. To remedy this problem and to avoid the superficiality it can engender, boards need time—some without management present—so they can more fully understand the structure and economics of the business, as well as how it creates value. They should use this time to get ahead of issues rather than always feeling a step behind during conversations on strategy or accepting management biases or ingrained habits of thought.AI can lay out comprehensive picture of industry and competitive industry dynamics with historical and future forward looking scenarios to make the job of the boards simpler.
2. Can AI trigger enough board–management debate before a specific strategy is discussed?
Aided thru AI and armed with a foundational view based on a clearer understanding of industry and company economics, boards are in a better position to have the kinds of informed dialogue with senior managers that ultimately help them prepare smarter and more refined strategic options for consideration. Board members should approach these discussions with data driven mind-set and with the goal of helping management to broaden its thinking by considering new, even unexpected, perspectives.
During such debates, management’s role is to introduce key pieces of content: a detailed review of competitors, key external trends likely to affect the business, and a view of the specific capabilities the company can use to differentiate itself. The goal of the dialogue is to develop a stronger, shared understanding of the skills and resources the company can use to produce strong returns, as opposed to merely moving with the tide. This is where boards can evangelize and seep in AI in the senior executives group for broader knowledge augmentation .
3.Can AI bring in all strategic options and approaches to the table for board and management ?
Very often, the energizing discussions between the board and management about the business, its economics, and the competition represent the end of the debate. Afterward, the CEO and top team go off to develop a plan that is then presented to the board for approval. Instead, what’s needed at this point is for management to take some time—go thru the self-learning enabled algorithm —to formulate a robust set of strategic options, each followed through to its logical end state, including the implications for the allocation of people, capital, and other resources. These strategic options through the revised algorithmic exercise can then be brought back to the board for discussion and decision making.
Developing AI led strategy is a new phenomenon and will take time to mature —yet will become more powerful algorithmic based decision making process and with board’s increased involvement, which introduces new voices and expertise to the debate and puts pressure on management teams and board members alike to find the best answers. Yet this form of AI led strategy development, when done well, is invaluable. It not only leads to clearer strategies but also creates the alignment necessary to make bolder moves with more confidence and to follow through by committing resources to key decisions. AI led decision making for the boards is here….
(AIQRATE advisory & consulting is a bespoke AI advisory and consulting firm and provide strategic advisory services to boards , CXOs, senior leaders to curate , design building blocks of AI strategy , embed AI@scale interventions and create AI powered enterprises . visit : www.aiqrate.ai )