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Ramprakash Ramamoorthy, the Product Manager at Zoho Labs, speaks to Future Tech Magazine about how AI is changing our world

In your experience, is AI creating a better world around us? 
Yes, without a doubt, AI is making life easier for both consumers and enterprises. The goal of any business is to maximize profits, improve productivity, and enhance the customer experience, and AI is being aggressively deployed on all these fronts.  

For example, poorly designed interactive voice response (IVR) systems will be a thing of the past very soon. We have smart chatbots that can answer most customer questions and escalate unanswerable questions to a human rep. In this way, the customer is happy that they have got an easier resolution to the query. The human support rep can spend their time more productively solving critical issues and the enterprise saves on costs in the process.

How is AI powering the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
In the last decade, there has been a heavy focus on process automation. This let us accumulate reams of data. With phenomenally good computing power and volumes of accumulated data, the rise of AI was inevitable. Now, we are moving from process automation to decision automation using AI.

With the wealth of historical data available, AI can effectively identify patterns without humans writing explicit rules. It can also effectively forecast events by seeing patterns not obvious to human eyes. All of these traits make AI the key to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

How can AI change the workforce for the better? What sort of technologies are at the forefront of catapulting AI applications to success?
AI can be a productivity booster by automating redundant tasks, freeing up humans to work on more critical tasks that require their attention. For example, when your website goes down, even if just for a couple of minutes, that translates to a revenue loss. The hit to the reputation that comes with an outage may even be costlier. An AI-enabled monitoring system can proactively predict outages even before they happen and also explain what signal might reveal the root cause of the outage. 

This is the productivity boost that we are talking about. Workforces can receive a notification on possible future outages and takes steps to prevent them altogether, saving them time and resources that would have otherwise been spent troubleshooting. On the technology front, AI is mostly beefed up statistics.

A substantial amount of work has been going on to make AI explainable. That is, a decision that comes out of an AI system will also be accompanied by an explanation that makes it clear how that decision was made. This is particularly useful in enterprise systems because an enterprise consists of multiple teams and hierarchies. Such explainable AI systems should accelerate AI adoption in enterprises.

What opportunities does AI bring along for vendors and partners? 
AI vendors have the opportunity to transform the way the industry works. When used right, AI  can help differentiation from competitors and can add substantial value. Challenges exist, too. We still have a data problem in most cases. Unlike clickstream data in social networks, enterprise data is limited.

There is also a lot of awareness in recent times about how data created is processed and who all has access to it. AI systems by nature erode data boundaries. So vendors and partners should be doubly careful with the strict data processing regulations and ensure data is used right. 

These challenges will be the opportunities for the vendor and partner ecosystem. Summing up, an AI system that is explainable complies with data access regulations, and works better with limited amounts of data is going to be the winner.

What sort of revenue growth opportunity does AI represent today?
The opportunities don’t just lie with AI, but x+AI, where x is your core business. AI can help boost productivity, enhance customer experience, and more, but its real strength lies in how well you build it around your core business functions. AI can provide a head start at improving whatever you do, based on the quality and the quantity of available past data.   Like the databases and the internet, AI is going to be everywhere, so you better board the AI bus! 

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