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April 27, 2017

Infosys Seeks to Move AI Beyond Call Centers


Outsourcing giant Infosys Ltd. has taken a slightly different tact in the race to deploy artificial intelligence platforms, initially applying machine learning and natural language processing capabilities for real-world automation applications like optical character recognition.

The second generation of its AI platform released this week builds on the roll out of relatively mundane by useful machine automation applications to integrate big data analytics with machine learning, “cognitive automation” and “knowledge management.”

The company’s first-generation AI platform was akin to a proof-of-concept designed to show it could be integrated with existing IT to improve efficiency and reduce costs by automating routine business processes. Infosys (NYSE: INFY) said its second-generation “Nia” platform incorporates those capabilities while addressing more pressing problems like forecasting revenues and understanding customer behavior along with tracking compliance with data governance rules and detecting fraud.

Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka touted the company’s “purposeful approach to AI” as a way “in which technology serves to amplify” workers rather than simply replacing them. That tenet is consistent with the company’s earlier calls for ethical development of AI tools.

The outsourcing specialist appears to be using its AI prowess to move beyond traditional customer support tasks such as resolving disputes and providing technical advice to tackle business applications like gauging manufacturing and materials costs. That capability could, for example, help reduce product development cycles, it said.

Retailers have long attempted to build up customer profiles so they can pitch related products. The Infosys AI platform seeks to take that approach a step further via what it calls a “customer genome” that combines internal and external data sources. The AI application is designed to customize targeted advertising campaigns along with identifying cross-selling and increasingly common “upselling” opportunities.

Hence, the upgraded AI platform looks to combine software automation tools with a broader focus on data analytics as a way of improving everything from customer service and sales to new product development.

The latest version of the company’s AI offering also builds on an earlier customer service platform designed to automate call center functions via what the company calls “robotic process automation.”

Infosys said its Nia AI platform is available now.

As it promotes AI technologies it says are designed to turn call center employees into “knowledge workers,” Infosys has been vocal about the need for retraining to leverage big data for enhance services. “Our research shows that the next four years will witness further spikes in interest, and general bullishness about the significant value and benefits that can be obtained through AI adoption,” Sandeep Dadlani, president of the Infosys Americas unit, noted in releasing an industry survey earlier this year on the impact of AI.

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