Our journey and motivations to increase the intelligence of virtual workers – A reflection by Digital Workforce Head of AI, Gaurav Khullar

5.9.2018

Recently, I’ve been devouring myself into critically thinking about innovation. Can there be a scientific framework for creating innovation and using it for the prosperity of businesses and humanity? Or does innovation happen due to random sparks of brilliance and ingenuity of the human brain. Whatever the reason, one thing is clear: Only innovation that results from solving someone’s need or want and is packaged at the right price will prosper.

There has been a lot of hullabaloo around Artificial Intelligence in the recent past and the fire has been further fuelled by media reports about spectacular AI achievements e.g. Deepmind’s AlphaGo, Microsoft’s machine translation reaching levels of human performance and many others. Sceptics or rationalists (as they may like to call themselves) would rather question the impact that such AI will have on humanity. Believers, on the other hand, would like to believe that AI will one day become a superpower.

For an organization like Digital Workforce, the goal is to create AI that will always empower humans rather than overpower them. Humans will be empowered if AI can help them in: a) making decisions that are unbiased and objective and require a lot of computation and data mining that is unwieldy for a human b) getting more satisfaction from their jobs by automating their routine tasks so that they can focus on more creative tasks.

Automation of routine tasks has been possible for many years by using automation scripts. However, more elaborate and industrialized commercial software have started to appear since the last couple of years. These software applications have gained the name of Robotic Process Automation (RPA). The RPA applications have not been as glorified as ML, but they have been providing a lot of value and the RPA industry is expected to be in multi-billion USD range by 2021.

What is especially interesting for me as an AI practitioner is the convergence of ML/AI and RPA. RPA robots have the limitations that the business rules have to be manually pre-programmed and they can only process structured digital data. They can therefore only automate a fraction of business processes where the format of digital data is structured and pre-defined. Also, these robots are not good learners – they don’t have the “digital brain” to learn patterns and rules from data. That said, their strength is that they can work with any existing IT application which means that cost of automation using RPA is minimal. RPA software also has the capability to integrate with AI components using REST API calls – this capability is a huge enabler to use AI as the brain and RPA agents as the hands to execute business processes.

The limitations of RPA no longer hold it back as integrated AI models can understand and process unstructured and unformatted data for it (including in non-digital format e.g. text in paper documents). Such a capability is termed as Intelligent Process Automation (IPA). The IPA market is an order of magnitude larger than the RPA market.

We at Digital Workforce are on a journey to create an IPA platform – a digital brain force for our RPA agents so that they can automate tasks requiring higher order of “brain” function. Hopefully, this will unlock a tremendous amount of business value which can be reinvested to develop more meaningful and innovative experiences. Our hope is that our innovation will fuel and empower corporations to further their own innovativeness.

Would you like to join us on the journey? We are growing our AI team! Find out more here.

 

Gaurav is responsible for defining, developing and delivering Digital Workforce’s AI strategy. He joined Digital Workforce from a Senior Manager & AI Lead for Data Science role at Accenture. He has strong experience in AI, e.g. context aware computing, personalised customer experience, churn prediction, econometric forecasting and predictive maintenance, gained from his previous positions at Nokia, Microsoft, Tecnotree, Accenture and a few co-founded start-ups. He has worked with technologies like Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, Recommendation Systems and Deep Learning.

Contact: Gaurav Khullar Head of AI, Digital Workforce, +358 50 482 1216 gaurav.khullar@digitalworkforce.fi

Want to learn more about the latest developments in AI and how intelligent solutions can benefit your business? Gaurav hosts a monthly expert interview webinar series. Access all interviews free on ai.digitalworkforce.eu