November 2019
November 2019, Volume 1911,

A Monthly News Letter From CIOs Of India

My son lives in a world inhabited by myriad apps. Interactions with Alexa or Siri
have elevated from banal conversations to being the trusted assistant which
may be relied upon not only play music or news or read books but order food,
book cabs or play KBC too. In a world where the millennial’s life Is not only built
around apps but is now dependent on virtual assistants like Alexa to manage
the handoffs between apps, why would he expect anything less in the

The ease of use and convenience of using a virtual assistant masking the
complexities of inter-app integration led me to explore the opportunities for
extending the same within the enterprise. While many companies are investing
in or testing out chatbots for the customers, I am more enthused by the
potential for their use within the enterprise.

Enterprise productivity bots with natural language processing capabilities or
virtual assistants are the natural culmination of the trends in creating digital
ecosystems with platforms, APIs, IOTs and RPA. While consumer chatbots have
been more prevalent and easier to justify spends on, the potential for workforce
productivity enhancement and easier change management using bots is an
attractive use case for the enterprise. And it could be the great equalizer in the
war for talent and the unemployability challenge. It could foster SMEs who can
be technology agnostic and do not need to know where and how the
information resides. It has the potential to be one of the weak signals that
Venkat Venkatraman talks about in his book ‘The Digital Matrix’.

Any process change entails training efforts and in a large distributed enterprise,
just the cost of training and rollout may deter agile implementations. Masking
the changes through bots or even communicating and training the users
through bots could significantly ramp up productivity. According to an Accenture
report, enterprise productivity bots are great for scheduling meetings, speed
and improve decision making, and foster greater collaboration. An enterprise
productivity bot should not merely speak the language but exhibit human-like
intelligence and behavior, self-learning ability, and automation of business
processes while augmenting human decision making.

The global conversational AI market is projected to reach USD 15.7 billion by
2024. According to Gartner, by 2022, 70% of white-collar workers will interact
with conversational platforms on a daily basis. In the 2019 Gartner CIO Survey,
CIOs identified chatbots as the main AI-based application used in their

There are several naysayers who could say that the technology has fizzled out.
After all, it has been 3 years since Satya Nadella announced that Bots are the
new Apps. Few years ago, we had done some trials with chatbots. The
experience was too rigid and limited to carry it forward. However what gives me
hope is that there have been several recent breakthroughs in NLP. In August,
NVIDIA’s AI became the first platform to train one of the most advanced AI
language models – BERT, within an hour and complete AI inference in just over
2 milliseconds. There is renewed optimism that the friendly enterprise bot will
not only read out company news and changes but will answer your queries on
foods that can help counter pollution effects and their instore inventory levels

To see an interesting infographic on the recent frameworks in NLP. An excerpt
may be found here.

In other interesting developments, we possibly witnessed history being created
as Google claimed quantum supremacy, Google bought Fitbit and brought us
closer to humanhacking (we told you so!!), Whatsapp proved that social media
can be very anti-social as always suspected and Delhiites proved once again
that we have evolved and oxygen is now optional.

Looking Forward to your comments and experiences.

Annie Mathew
Vice President, CIOs Of India