Results of a recent study released by Pega Systems, reveal a curious fact. When some 6,000 customers worldwide were polled, only one in three, thought they were users of Artificial Intelligence. In fact 84 percent were unknowingly using AI tools everyday — through smart chatbots, virtual assistants on their phones or other tools that tried to second-guess their preferences. When you say 'Hello Cortana', or 'Hello Siri', you are tapping an AI tool. When a shopping site tries to suggest what colour or style of clothing you prefer based on your past buys, you are using AI. Welcome to the brave new world of AI's Second Coming — this time, not as a geek's guide but in a new aam admi avatar.
Home to the world's last big mobile market, India is also a hotbed for innovation in AI, most of it centred on consumer solutions for the cellular phone. Some of these smart apps share a common DNA: a made-in-India AI tool called Niki.ai Just 1MB in size the software development kit or SDK uses Machine Learning technology to enable online brands to improve their engagement with existing customers, acquire new customers — and generally make money. HDFC Bank's OnChat tool, the e-wallet Oxigen, the bus booking app Ticketgoose and the affordable hotel finder Oyo are just four users of technology. Last week, phone maker Zen Mobile leveraged Niki.ai to create a fast shopping experience for its users, using what has come to be called "conversational commerce". Niki.ai's USP is that one can create an AI app in 30 minutes with less than a dozen lines of code.
The recently launched Panasonic Eluga Max phone which was reviewed on this page has its own AI engine, Arbo, which analyses your phone usage, learns your habits — and then prompts you with suggestions. The Indian handset brand, Micromax, turned to another AI tool from Yandex to intelligently integrate shopping, travel and food services in a single window.
Another Made-in-India tool to bootstrap AI into you e-commerce operation is AIDA from Boxx.ai, the creation of IIT batch mates Ajay Kashyap, Prakhar Raj and Shitiz Bansal. It uses AI to personalize every customer contact through real-time recommendations, emails and SMSs. It uses deep learning algorithms to figure out things like — if a customer's name ends in 'jee', he or she is likely a fish eater!
If you are an unrepentant shopaholic maybe you should turn to a mobile app of the same name, from a social commerce startup, Clipwiser, the brainchild of brand consultant Dheeraj Parashar. If you are hassled by having to compare offers at Flipkart, Amazon, Jabong, Myntra etc, Shopaholic eases the pain with its recommendation tool. Users can browse various products through a personalized stream of pictures based on your interest and curated on a single page, from multiple sellers.
AI is also central to a financial tech startup, CASHe, arguably India's first mobile lending platform. It offers quick, short term loans — as fast as 8 minutes — and all the info required, can be sent from your phone. This works well for those to whom regular channels of loan in an emergency are blocked, possibly by a low credit rating. CASHe doesn't care. It uses its own AI algorithm which trusts your mobile and social networking data rather than looking to CIBIL. Loans can range from Rs 5000 to Rs 1 lakh. Interest rates will be higher than bank loans -- but the young professionals who are its target, don't seem to mind, as the loan periods are usually very short.
In a world of Cortana and Siri and Alexa, one Indian personal assistant — Haptik — has consolidated its business and is now into version 5. If you have used Zomato, BookMyShow, ClearTrip or UrbanClap, you are already using Haptik. But you can also download the Android and iOS app and put it on your phone to leverage its many personalization features.
Age is no bar to innovation in AI. Last week, Microsoft announced the Indian champ of its global student innovation contest for the Imagine Cup: BITS Pilani, for an AI-based online solution for parents that helps keep children safe from cyber-bullies and inappropriate content. The team will now go to Seattle, US in July to bid for the global $100,000 prize. Go for IT guys!