In Conversation with Sudha Bhamidipati

Jul 12, 2019 in Artificial Intelligence - Applications
Posted By : Upendra Namburi


Sudha is a cofounder & director at worxogo. In this interaction, we touched upon the impact and future of artificial intelligence and it's role in influencing human behaviour.

AI is the new disruptive force: How true or hyped is this statement?          

While the world of AI is filled with much hype, what is clear is that AI and its applications have the power to truly transform industries. At worxogo, we see many customers already using AI in a variety of functions and use-cases for e.g., in analytics, which allows them to personalise adverts for customers, making more relevant offers to them, giving them choices to shop better and so on.

AI’s unique value is its ability to make sense of enormous amounts of data from multiple data sets in a smart, fast, and efficient way.

The truly forward-looking organisations will work towards making this a reality faster.

In the context of enterprises, how does AI today impact the way executives and leaders work?

AI can enhance the way employees work. It will help free up leaders and executives for more strategic, creative and intuitive tasks. Take AI assistants like Google’s Alexa. It is powered by large amounts of data, emboldened by speech recognition and natural language processing technologies. Machine learning algorithms fed into its systems learn from the data they receive from humans and become skilled at predicting the user’s needs, getting better with every piece of new information received. From arranging calendars to handling expense reports and even approving them.

AI-enabled digital assistants are already helping people become more productive.

worxogo’s AI engine, Mia, takes this concept one step further and acts as a personal digital coach. It uses neuroeconomics to understand what motivates sales teams and coaches them to become better versions of themselves - think of it like a KPI coach that helps or guides you to perform better and feel more motivated. Additionally, it acts like a “performance wingman” for sales managers, to help them manage their teams better by providing timely insights. This is done by gauging whether the teams perform to the desired standards across specific areas, and actively nudges them to guide their improvement.

Can you walk us through the details of how worxogo's AI-assistant Mia works?

Mia works in conjunction with existing CRMs (like Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics) and assesses individual sales team members’ key performance indicators to identify where she/he needs help. Using proprietary algorithms, it identifies the area of work that needs regular attention. Additionally, it also understands and motivates each team member based on more than 70 workplace personas, and then guides them to get better. In a way, it augments human ability by helping make decisions - better decisions - which, naturally, improve an individual’s productivity and most importantly, help them stay motivated at work.

Mia naturally augments the human ability of making decisions, thereby improving productivity and motivation.

With Mia, our clients see their sales team become high performing, more engaged and deliver higher outcomes - such as doubled productivity, increased sales by up to 25% and reduced attrition.


How do neuroeconomics and behaviour design converge with AI?

Neuroeconomics looks at the “why” behind human behaviour (e.g. why does a salesperson decide to open new leads vs. trying to close existing ones). Behaviour design is a step-by-step look at what motivates us to become better on simple tasks - such as exercising (think of how fitness coaches help us maintain continuity in our workout regime). At worxogo, we take the three bodies of work - behavioural design, neuroeconomics and AI - to deliver an AI coach for building high-performing sales teams.

How can new-age organisations - big and small - look to leverage AI and ML?

In its current form, AI has a lot to offer new age organisations.

For businesses, AI’s ability to collate insights and trends from large amounts of data and make predictions in a smart, economical and reliable way, has already proven to be an invaluable asset.

And rightly so, because applied to key processes, AI can drive exponential growth in multiples. By making AI an essential component of more processes, growth will move from being incremental to exponential. 

Once AI becomes an essential component for more processes, growth will become exponential.

To achieve this, it is important for organisations to first take stock of the processes that can drive growth for their business, and strategically evaluate how the process can be augmented with AI, instead of blindly following the hype. Organisations should also keenly examine if they have employed and maximised the potential of digitisation - of assets, operations and workforce - before tapping into any kind of AI tech, because while AI can drive incremental growth, you’d be under utilising the tech if that’s the goal you are chasing.


What's next in AI tech for enterprises? Where will the next AI-led disruption happen?

I am reminded of what Kai-Fu Lee, a former AI researcher, said in calling the present the “age of implementation” — one where the technology starts “spilling out of the lab and into the world.” This is truer for AI than any other frontier tech of our time.

Accurate fraud detection, organisations reducing risks using facial recognition, deep learning to prevent driving accidents and many more areas will be positively impacted by AI. While there is significant promise, to deliver this we need enterprises to work alongside start-ups to build use-cases, test them in the real world and make a positive impact on bottom lines.

At this point, it is worth talking about what AI will and will not do. A recent McKinsey report  stated that only a few jobs could be fully automated. The easily automatable activities are those that are highly predictable and structured, including data collection and data processing.

AI will not replace workers;  it will boost their productivity and work.

This means that AI, in its present form, won’t replace workers, as many fear; but rather work alongside them to boost productivity and growth. I believe we will see AI and human intelligence work in tandem, minimising each other’s weakness, in order to produce outcomes that are more successful, economical and fast.

Sudha, an IIM Ahmedabad alumnus, is a Co-founder and Director of worxogo, an AI startup. This aims to bring behavioural design to the workplace to improve performance of Sales teams. worxogo has over 1,00,000 users and 40 leading names as clients in India. It was one of the Top 15 winners of IBM's startup program in 2015, and one of the winners at the HDFC Digital Innovation Summit in 2019. Sudha is recognised amongst the Top 100 Women in AI and was recently interviewed by Tyler Gallagher for an article in Her experience in Sales spans across sectors including Sales Transformation as Head of CRM at PwC. As a VP in IBM, she handled large, multi-year Technology & Consulting outsourcing contracts for clients. Sudha was recently nominated for the ET Prime Women's Leadership Accenture-Vahini award 2019.

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