Can consultants leverage AI to solve business problems with empathy?
ORGANIZATIONS have always been fascinated by the amount of ‘information’ on the “consumers’ internet” and wondered if it could be harnessed to create intelligence that facilitates customer-centric decision making.
While the arrival and rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) delivered on many fronts, not many have been able to harness it to understand the consumers’ internet because it is largely made up of unstructured data.
Some intelligent tools that help make quantitative sense of this unstructured data are beginning to make an impact on the work that marketers and strategists do — but results are far less exciting than those that are created by diving deep into the context and emotions behind the words on social media, e-commerce reviews, forums, and more.
Quilt.ai — a tech-powered consultancy — is among those trying to make sense of unstructured data and recognized by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) for its work.
The company’s Founder and CEO Anurag Banerjee spoke to Tech Wire Asia to highlight the allure and power of the data in the public domain and how artificial intelligence (AI) can help make sense of it and deliver insights to business owners.
Banerjee explains that data on the internet lives in forums, social media platforms, and blogs, in text, audio, and video, and needs to be seen more intelligently, beyond simply tagging content and mentions.
“Quilt.ai has developed two pieces of intellectual property (IPs) specifically to deal with this. The first involves a repository of more than 16 billion tagged images and 2.5 billion tagged videos and the second helps contextualize digital content with a cultural filter.
“So, when producing an analysis, we first tag the content on the internet, then, say it’s an image on Instagram, we identify and tag the objects in the image, and finally, we understand that not everyone is a great writer, so we put a cultural filter on the content to contextualize and capture it in the way that is aligned with the consumer’s intentions.”
Effectively, Banerjee’s consultancy — that grew from four employees to 40 in the span of 18 months (start of 2018 to mid-2019) — uses AI to make sense of words in a way that empathizes with consumers and brings their emotions to life in the digital world.
Although the firm’s growth is representative of the demand for AI-powered teams that make sense of unstructured data with empathy and cultural context, the reality is that the company could grow faster in terms of headcount if the right talent was more easily available.
Compared to tools that quantify unstructured data on social platforms on the internet, Quilt.ai’s deep analysis tools help its consultants provide businesses with answers to tough problems about the future of their industry and the needs and wants of their customers.
Some of the consulting firm’s clients include e-commerce giant Amazon, Singapore-based financial services leader DBS, FMCG leaders P&G and Colgate, and even technology giant Accenture, among many others.
To put things in perspective, questions that Quilt.ai solves for companies include:
- Where are the next million or so customers coming from?
- What improvements can we make to delight customers and entice them to increase the value of their shopping cart?
- What are some of the most interesting areas of business that we must focus on to boost growth in the coming years?
That being said, what’s most interesting about the work that Quilt.ai is doing — and is a reflection of the interest that all kinds of entities have in harnessing public data on the internet — is the fact that Banerjee’s company spends about 25 percent of its time solving big world problems, working for non-profits such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation.
EIU’s recent report Venture into the Future of Giving: The Potential of Emerging Technologies in the Giving Sector cited Quilt.ai as a company that “aims to ‘stitch the fragments’ that technology has created in society back together”.
Banerjee, who sees his work in this space as a way to give back to the world and a reason to get out of bed every morning, said that some of the problems his tech-powered consultants are solving right now include food security, child safety, vaccinations, and gender equality.
Discussing the maturity of Quilt.ai’s IP and AI-based tools raises the question about why the company doesn’t become a technology vendor and create a software that it offers as a service (SaaS).
“The insights we provide to businesses can be put on a dashboard but that’s probably less effective. Strategic decisions aren’t made watching real-time data on a dashboard.
“While we can provide dashboards to our customers, our presentations are more effective as a tool to provide useful insights and relevant answers to complicated business problems.
“Further, being a company that vows to bring empathy into data, we need to empathize with our audience as well. Not everyone consumes information from dashboards.”
What Quilt.ai does for its clients is exciting — it’s a fast-moving consulting house that uses technology assets to provide significant value — and its success is an indication of the interest that the market has in making sense of unstructured data and harnessing public data on the consumers’ internet.