DWS 2018: The Crossroads of Business, Technology and Humanity

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The second annual Digital Workforce Summit (DWS) drew thought leaders, industry mavericks, and delegates from around the world. The event explored how advanced AI solutions such as Amelia and Amelia AIOps (formerly 1Desk) are redefining the way the world does business, and AI’s broader impact on humanity.

This June, thought leaders, industry insiders, and delegates from around the world gathered in New York City for the second annual Digital Workforce Summit (DWS). The event featured a wide breadth of insights about the impact of cognitive technologies in business and society at large. DWS once again proved to be a vibrant crossroads of technology, commerce, and humanity. Here are some of the highlights from this year’s DWS.

AIOps: End-to-End Cognitive and Autonomics

IPsoft CEO Chetan Dube and VP of Emerging Technologies Ergun Ekici demonstrated how IPsoft’s AIOps unifies disparate areas of a business into a single intelligent hub. The platform takes this disruptive model a step further through the addition of Amelia, who allows users to execute complex automated workflows across multiple backend systems with natural language commands. She is the cognitive front-end to a powerful autonomic framework.

This solution is less an iterative step than a revolutionary leap. As Dube told the DWS audience: “[It’s a] revolution in the way customer service is rendered today, the way organizations get their tasks rendered today, and a revolution in the cost of delivery models.”

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Max Tegmark: Life 3.0 – Being Human in the Age of AI

One of the event’s most fascinating discussions about AI’s greater significance came courtesy of MIT professor, author, and co-founder of the Future of Life Institute Max Tegmark. His presentation touched on how the accelerated evolution of AI inevitably leads to the emergence of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), in which advanced AI matches the capabilities of the human brain.

Once AGI comes online, humans will no longer be the most intelligent entities on Earth – which doesn’t necessarily spell doom, nor does it necessarily lead to utopia, but it will probably happen a lot sooner than many people expect. Therefore, Tegmark explained, it’s in humanity’s vital interest to proactively shape the impending The Age of AI. “We're all here to celebrate this amazing opportunity that we have to create an inspiring future with AI,” he told the audience. “And I feel that the essence of this future should be that we all become not overpowered, but empowered by our technology.”

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Anurag Harsh: The Business of AI

AI isn’t just a powerful new tool; it represents a new paradigm that will allow companies to completely reimagine how they do business, IPsoft CMO Anurag Harsh told the DWS audience. Harsh explored how AI technologies aren’t only prospects for the near- or far-future, but are taking place right now.

“It’s easy to see why The Business of AI is on its way to quickly becoming Business as Usual. Think about the advances in AI in just the last few years — not just the technology, but more importantly in how companies, businesses and providers are using it to transform themselves and their industry,” Harsh told the DWS audience. “In AI technology, Machine Learning and the use of Deep Neural Networks are allowing AI to grow exponentially smarter, and to train and teach itself faster than a human. It’s allowing customers in all kinds of industries to develop new turbo-charged decision-making models and algorithms.”

AI Pioneer Perspectives: Vodafone, Amelia and the IT Service Desk

Karine Brunet, Vodafone

Since Vodafone hired Amelia two years ago to support employees with internal IT issues, she has expanded her scope to seven markets in multiple languages and assisted 58% of employees who’ve contacted the service desk. Of the 20,000 monthly chats that Amelia handles, she is able to complete 53% without any additional human intervention.

“We believe that in the next few months we’re going to increase that level of autonomy, and we think we should be close to 65 to 70% in terms of autonomy,” Karine Brunet, Director of Technology Shared Services at Vodafone told the DWS audience during her AI Pioneer Perspectives session.  The company has since integrated Amelia into 22 of their back-end information systems for a number of roles.

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AI Pioneer Perspectives: BBVA, Amelia and Customer Service

Ignacio Bernal Echeverria, BBVA

Multi-national Spanish-language banking group BBVA needed to find a way to provide service to 17 million customers across 13 countries. The company decided to explore a cognitive solution that can address customer needs at scale.

“Volume is not a problem we expect to have in the future. It’s a problem we have now,” said Ignacio Bernal Echeverria, Global Chief Technology Officer at BBVA. “Lots of solutions promise to deliver in the future, but we needed it solved now.” Enter a relationship with IPsoft. Today, Amelia manages 32% of the total calls for credit/debit card claims. As a result of Amelia’s early successes, BBVA is looking into how to implement “cognitive at scale” by introducing Amelia to other parts of the business.

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AI Pioneer Perspectives: Electronic Arts, Amelia and Phishers

Matt Tomlinson, Electronic Arts

When Electronic Arts (EA) first deployed Amelia, the company was hoping to reduce average customer support times, but she turned out to also be extremely effective at detecting fraud. “We naively thought early on that benefits were purely just handle time savings,” explained Matt Tomlinson, Global Director of Innovation at EA. “We thought Artificial Intelligence can do something in three minutes that humans can do in 10 minutes. Hooray. A seven-minute handle time savings. What we didn’t account for was that Artificial Intelligence is incredibly good at deflecting phishers.”

Tomlinson told the DWS audience how surprised he was at how naturally customers adjusted to conversing with Amelia. “We thought our biggest challenge was going to be trying to make Amelia sound as human as possible. That wasn’t a problem at all,” he said. “Forty-five percent of our players had no idea Amelia wasn’t human. When they were transferred onto a human agent, they were asking, ‘Who was that Amelia person?’”

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AI Pioneer Perspectives: Faster Business Processes, Fewer Mistakes

Mike Brady, Insurance CTO

One major insurance company was looking to simplify business processes and remove errors, so they turned to IPsoft and Amelia. During his DWS AI Pioneer Perspectives presentation, CTO Mike Brady noted that he was interested in Amelia’s ability to connect disparate teams and platforms. “The application of Artificial Intelligence [allows our company to] replace our teams of middleware and connect those systems with the context, with the semantic, to complete the transactions,” he said.

Brady said he’s seen transactions that took humans nine or 10 minutes to complete being done by AI systems in as little as seven. He also said he’s seen improved quality of work thanks to Amelia. “We were dialing 97% [accuracy] very, very quickly, and in some cases we would run it very close to a 100%,” he said. “A typical human on a good day is running about 96% accurate, and statistically there are times of the week that it’s actually getting a lot closer to 90%.”

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Panel: Cognitive Automated Healthcare

There is a lot of hype surrounding AI systems and their potential to replace doctors and nurses. However, the real promise lies in AI’s ability to augment healthcare through guided self-care, and to relieve healthcare professionals from burdensome administrative duties. This was the premise of a panel discussion about Cognitive Automated Healthcare moderated by David Champeaux, the Global Cognitive Solutions Director for IPsoft. Panelists included Russ Esposito, CIO for North American Partners in Anesthesia (NAPA); Greg Miller, SVP Strategy & International Market Development for Health Catalyst; Dr. Niti Pall, Medical Director, Global Health Practice for KPMG; and Sumit Nagpal, the Managing Director of Accenture and CEO of Carefully.

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Simon Moss, Co-Founder of Global Citizen: AI’s Potential for Good

Modern AI systems enable the automation of cognitive tasks, the amplification of individuals to achieve more, and the engagement of millions of users at scale. These abilities have an obvious value for businesses, but they can also be used in the pursuit of altruistic goals.

Global Citizen is a non-profit group that aims to end extreme poverty by 2030. The organization enlists volunteers to urge their leaders to support measures in support of the United Nations’ 17 goals for sustainable development. One of the group’s biggest obstacles is connecting volunteers with the projects that mean the most to them.  Simon Moss, Co-Founder of Global Citizen, took the DWS stage to detail a new project with IPsoft that would use the cognitive abilities of Amelia to connect volunteers with projects. “What we’re going to be using AI for, in partnership with the team at IPsoft, is to help people discover. Help them discover, if you will, what their personal journey is,” Moss said. He went on to explain how Amelia will help volunteers “find the right organization, the right issue, the right cause, and ultimately the right way for you to make a big difference in the world.”

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The ROI of AI and Introducing the Marketplace for Amelia

While AI promises to revolutionize how business is done around the world, the most important question for enterprise decision makers is if there will be a worthwhile (and timely) return on investment. This is also a priority for IPsoft, Chief Cognitive Officer Edwin van Bommel explained to the DWS audience.

“We want to make companies and clients better,” Edwin said. “If you deploy an AI like Amelia, she should help you with that return on AI to justify the investment in the technology.” One of the key ways IPsoft will drive ROI will be through a new AI-focused marketplace where companies can acquire and upload specific roles for Amelia. With a few clicks, a company’s Amelia can gain new functionality that will deliver value to companies.

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Anthony Abbattista: The True Impact of AI

While AI is often viewed as a far-off technology that will affect the world down the line, it’s making a discernible impact in the here and now. This was the premise that Anthony Abbattista, the Global Cognitive Advantage Leader with Deloitte, described in his DWS presentation.

Abbattista went on to detail how AI technologies are evolving in three main areas: 1) the CXO suite (where AI is reaching “a new level of boardroom interest and CXO-suite interest.”); 2) the emergence of a discernible “cognitive advantage” of AI-haves over have-nots; and 3) the rise of the “No-Collar Workforce,” which is made possible by a number of technologies, but accelerated in particular by AI.

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Partner Perspectives: Deloitte, Amelia and Customer-Centricity

John Brownridge, Deloitte

During his presentation at DWS, John Brownridge, Principal of Digital Human Capital at Deloitte, discussed how AI creates new opportunities for companies to work differently. “All of the changes that technology has brought has enabled us to do things differently,” he said. “Some things that we’ve always done, we’re able to automate using different technologies, but then we’re able to do new stuff, new things that we could never do before to change the customer experience, to enhance the customer experience and create value.”

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Partner Perspectives:  NTT Group, Artificial Intelligence and The Internet of Things

Junichi Kudo, NTT Group

Junichi Kudo, the Head of Applications & Content with NTT Communications, told the DWS audience about how his company has hired Amelia to take on a number of roles. Since 2016, she has been serving in an external role (re-named “Cotoha”) as a virtual operator, marketer, and IoT support technician, while internally (as “Randy-San”), she serves as an internal human resources agent.

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In Conversation: The Brain Behind Amelia

Christopher Manning, Professor, Stanford

Every week for the last several years, Stanford University Professor Christopher Manning has conferred with IPsoft’s engineers to help shape the DNA that goes into making Amelia the market’s most-human AI. The professor sat down with IPsoft CEO Chetan Dube for a fascinating conversation about some of the amazing functionality currently inside Amelia and what the world should expect to see from AI in the “exponential future.”

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Panel Discussion: Digital Operations Surprises and Strategy

Deploying an AI system can be a complex process. Determining the technical, cultural and philosophical approaches to building out your AI initiative is crucial to any organization. This was the theme of a panel discussion moderated by IPsoft Chief Commercial Officer Jonathan Crane with PwC CIO Jon Eisenstein; and Fannie Mae VP of Digital Workforce and Platform Solutions Dawn Damico. The panel had a wide-ranging discussion about the surprises that emerged from their deployment of AI solutions and how each organization addressed them.

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AI Pioneer Perspectives: Liberty Mutual Insurance

During his presentation at DWS, Liberty Mutual Insurance Brian Piccolo presented his company’s journey automating the quote-to-cash process for selling car insurance – a process in which Amelia leads customers through 25-to-30 questions. Piccolo detailed the process of creating the best digital agent for its needs, from researching what makes a successful agent, to training Amelia to address reactions for different customer segments.

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AI Pioneer Perspectives: BNP Paribas

Philippe Denis, the Chief Anticipation Officer for BNP Paribas, explored his company’s cognitive journey during his AI Pioneer Perspectives presentation. The company sought an AI solution to automate customer interactions, thereby reducing the volume of calls and queries to human employees.

The international banking company began exploring AI solutions starting in 2011, and decided to hire Amelia after being introduced to her last year at a Gartner forum in Barcelona. Denis detailed how the company went about determining the scope, development and refinement of its Amelia deployment.

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Grete Faremo, Executive Director of UNOPS: AI and the Acceleration of Global Development

Grete Faremo, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of the United Nations Office for Project ServicesIt is estimated that in order to reach the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, it would cost between $3.3 trillion to $4.5 trillion annually. When you consider that the UN’s official development aid budget is only $150 billion, it becomes obvious that a new strategy is needed to address these issues. And this is where AI-fueled amplification can be of service.

This was the premise of the DWS presentation by Grete Faremo, the Executive Director of UNOPS (United Nations Office of Project Services). AI has the power to accelerate productivity while minimizing overhead, which is what makes it such a promising solution for the global development community. “Can [AI technologies] deliver smarter, better, and faster services as well as jobs?” Faremo asked the audience. “Can automation allow us more time to focus on quality and how to solve core needs and services, and even enhance the meaning behind an impact of our work? The potential is undeniable.”

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In Conversation: How Man & Machine Can Thrive Together

As AI rises to prominence on the global stage, we’ve moved beyond questions of feasibility to discussing how these technologies can be used to benefit the most people. “Artificial Intelligence today is a huge, huge opportunity for humanity to reduce pain, reduce diseases, and reduce suffering in the world,” said Monsignor Lucio Adrian Ruiz, the head of the Vatican’s communications department, during a fascinating in-depth conversation at DWS with IPsoft CEO Chetan Dube.

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Panel: Data as a Strategic Resource

It’s become a truism to say “data is the new oil.” Indeed, there are definite parallels to be drawn between petroleum extracted from the ground and information extracted from digital systems. While oil literally fueled the machines that re-shaped the physical and economic landscape of the 20th century, data powers the AI systems providing companies with excruciatingly detailed insights into the past, and — perhaps even more importantly — the ability to predict events in the future.

This was the premise of a fascinating DWS panel dubbed “Data as a Strategic Resource” moderated by IPsoft CMO Anurag Harsh and featuring insights from Philip Wiser, the SFP and CTO of Hearst Publications; Mike O’Rourke, the global head of Machine Intelligence & Data Services for NASDAQ; and Anthony Scriffigano, the SVP & Chief Data Scientist for Dun & Bradstreet.

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Klaus Tilmes, The World Bank: Disruptive Technologies in Practice & in Policy

During his wide-ranging presentation at DWS, Klaus Tilmes, the Senior Advisor to the President of The World Bank, talked about five trends that will determine the future success or failures of technology-related endeavors. These trends are 1) equitable access to technology (which Tilmes dubs the primary trend right now); 2) the potential to open access to basic human needs such as housing, food, and education; 3) the effects of mass labor displacement at the hands of automation; 4) how the nature of work will change when automation takes over all the low-level repetitive tasks; and 5) the evolution of the social contract “to make sure that the positive power of technologies is being harnessed.”

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Paul Daugherty: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI

AI has the power to transform he way we work, play, and live. Paul Daugherty, the Chief Technology & Innovation Officer with Accenture, detailed AI adoption myths and priorities for the DWS audience.  “Machines will automate a lot of current jobs, machines will make things more efficient, and we’ll have a lot of job loss because of AI, but with that machines will create many new jobs,” Daugherty said.

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Panel: How AI Is Changing the Competitive Landscape

Panel: How AI Is Changing the Competitive Landscape

As AI continues to become a ubiquitous force in global society, businesses, organizations, and nations will have to consider how, where, and when to make strategic AI investments. This was the focus of a panel discussion moderated by Mark Minevich, IPsoft Advisor & Digital Fellow with Deborah L. Wince-Smith, CEO for the US Council on Competiveness; John Frankel, a Founding Partner of ff Venture Capital; and Sanjit Dang, a Managing Director with Intel Capital.

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