“There’s a data scientist behind those movie recommendations!”

Do you remember the last time you watched a Netflix crime thriller movie like “The Departed”, and in turn, received recommendations for other amazing movies such as “The Godfather” or “Gone Baby Gone”? Welcome to the world of data science and Machine Learning!

In the 21st Century postmodern world, every nook and cranny of the world is in the process of becoming connected through virtual reality. CDs, DVD players and even cable television are now being considered “worn out” and “old technology” in order to pave way for more upcoming and happening ones such as Netflix, Prime and YouTube. However, what’s even more upcoming is that this technology seems to understand our unique preferences, and moreover, also suggest other relevant TV shows and web series based on one’s viewing habits. The same applies to online shopping as well – it may have happened scores of times that Amazon suggested other cool Apple products based on your previous iPhone 6 purchase.
The question that now arises is how these websites can be so omniscient as to recognize multiple unique viewing and purchasing habits so efficiently and accurately, an also crawl the database for other similar items and present it to the respective Internet users.

We’re back with a blog, and today, let’s venture into the upcoming and exciting world of data science, which has been popularly termed by Turing Award winner Jim Gray as “the sexiest job of the 21st Century”. Let’s have a sneak peek into the world where data scientists are busy with their numerous algorithms that allow machines to independently carry out these prediction tasks with ease:

1. So what’s so scientific in data science?
While science and technology have ensured that machines and technical equipment make our lives unbelievably efficient and quicker every single day, there is still a severe direct dependence of technological equipment on humans if the traditional sources of science and technology be relied upon alone. It is also important to ensure that technology work by itself for a major part of its functioning, instead of depending on constant human intervention. Moreover, with the inception of modern-day software and myriad online platforms to ensure that the world is well-connected, there is a massive explosion of data produced every single day. Just as it is essential to ensure less clutter and more clarity in our external worlds, the online world also needs to be maintained and de-cluttered on a regular basis. And in order to ensure that the technology of Machine Learning and organization of data may be incorporated to software systems, it is important to move one step beyond traditional science and technology, and embrace the world of ‘data science’.
Data scientists perform a world of algorithms – incorporating scientific techniques and systems in order to organize and store massive amounts of online information. If the internet world is a cobweb of information, data scientists are the spiders – venturing through the silk-threads efficiently.

2.Whoa! So how does a data scientist perform that herculean task?
The job of a data scientist is seeped into statistics and algorithms. Data scientists apply predictive modeling, machine learning and inferential statistics in the course of their work. Applying these different tools and techniques, a data scientist then traces certain unique patterns that are characteristic of specific internet users; and systematically stores this information in the database.
However, the task of a data scientist does not end here. A data scientist also uses the technology of Machine Learning, and allows your software to become independent enough to implement these algorithms effectively, so that the machines do not have to depend on humans every time such predictions need to be carried out.
And that, my friends, is the mystery behind all those Amazon and Netflix recommendations that you receive when you’re on an online shopping spree, or when you binge-watch your favourite web series on that lazy weekend!

The role of a Solution Architect

“A good design will actually design the company,” says Donald Norman.
Especially so, when a company desires the company of bots. All along, we have been telling you how RPA is the need of the hour, and the various processes and trivia involved in the project framework delivery. It is no surprise that the actual development and deployment process in RPA forms an extremely integral part of the entire project; and any errors in these processes can result in the creation of faulty bots. However, are processes directly handed over to the developers in order for them to bestow life on the process robots? Just as a home needs an architect to design its various chambers, automation also requires one to carefully construct a systematic framework to be implemented in the project. Let’s welcome the architects of automation, solution architects!
We’re back with a blog, and today, it’s time to dedicate a few minutes and paragraphs to the persons who form the pillars of automation.

While planning is a crucial step, one must ensure that the plan addresses all important and intricate phases and aspects of the venture, so that the implementation can be smooth and hassle-free. It is the responsibility of a Business Analyst to study the various process of a business, and then decide which of their processes may be automated. It is here that the solution architect steps in. The role of a solution architect begins when this automation idea needs to be put into practice, but requires a systematic approach for this implementation to be carried out.

The solution architect devices effective process maps and comes up with relevant solutions that can boost the automation process to a great extent, and act as a framework for the RPA developers to easily step into their roles. The solution architect essentially designs two types of process maps or designs – PDD or Process Design Document; and TDD, or Technical Design Document. While the former design is aimed at addressing the ‘as-is process’ of the RPA project, the latter one attempts at capturing the ‘to-be process’.
Once the processes to be automated have been earmarked by the Business Analyst, the Solution Architect then carefully studies these processes, and determines how the automation can be carried out in order to meet the requirements of the company as evaluated by the Business Analyst. The Solution Architect has to constantly keep in mind the aims and objectives of the automation process that has already been agreed upon by the clients as well as the automation providers; while also presenting a tangible and plausible solution for automating the rule-based task in question.

The Process Design Document focuses on the overall automation process, from data gathering, process standardization and recommendations, to development, testing and deployment of the process robots. The solution architect constantly communicates with the Business Analysts and Project Managers in order to ensure that there is no disagreement between the persons involved in the process; and to bridge any discrepancies in the process.
It is after the development of the Process Design Document capturing the as-is process, that the Standard Operating Procedure or SOP may be devised in order to break down the complex processes and sequences of the plan and ensure easy programming. One also needs to design the process capture template, modeling standards and process maps, before the actual development procedures commence.

Now, we have successfully completed the as-is process, and received a thumbs-up for the same from the clients, as well as the various other persons involved in the project. We have also successfully completed the recommendations phase, wherein the specific RPA processes to be carried out are earmarked, and the unnecessary ones are eliminated, with detailed analyses of cost benefits and feasibility. Now, our RPA developers are almost all set to take the RPA project to the next level by actually creating our bots. But…are we missing out on something?
The role of the solution architect does not simply end at producing the Process Design Document. While the PDD helps in identifying the various stages and phases of the project, this document is not sufficient in itself for the RPA developers to take over their herculean task. The solution architect now has to create and document another design specially dedicated to the RPA developers; namely, the Technical Design Document or TDD. The Technical Design Document focuses specifically on the guidelines to be followed by the RPA developers while developing the bot; as well as the technical specifications to be employed in the software. This document enables our able RPA developers to follow the plan through with ease, and with a systematic framework to fall back on during times of confusion or doubt. Along with the TDD, a Target Operating Model is also designed in order to chalk out the vision or aim of the RPA development project.
In this way, the solution architect acts as the backbone of the RPA development process; carefully setting up the foundation of the RPA project so that the construction may become easier and hassle-free. The solution architects ensure that the plan does not simply remain a shallow idea, but is made viable, plausible and accessible to all the persons involved in the project.

The Pros and Cons of AI – A tightrope walk

Artificial Intelligence: A Boon or a Bane?

With respect to Artificial Intelligence, the buzzword of the 21st Century, Dave Waters says:

“Artificial Intelligence is an infant at best. Once it becomes a teenager and believes it is smarter than its parents, will AI rebel?”
In today’s rapidly advancing world, the term ‘Artificial Intelligence’ is certainly not uncommon to hear or read, in magazines and blog posts (such as those posted by XLNC!); at business meetings and on television. In our everyday lives, a lot of us apply AI technology to our mundane organizational as well as other personal tasks, more often than not without even realizing its presence. However, a substantial population of individuals and groups are still extremely skeptical about this illusive technology, and the idea of machines functioning autonomously without human intervention. While AI enthusiasts often sound gung-ho about the fields of Machine Learning and Automation – claiming these to make life more efficient and dynamic – a lot of others still struggle with getting over the apprehension that AI might take complete control of human life, leaving us slaves to a Frankenstein’s monster.
We’re back with a blog; and today, let’s discuss the various conventions and perceptions associated with the AI technology; and objectively evaluate AI’s benefits and drawbacks against the backdrop of the 21st Century world:

I.Hey! AI ain’t all that bad, after all…
For those of you who are apprehensive and skeptical about embracing a technology as “frightening” and “overpowering” as Artificial Intelligence, we’re here to break the ice between AI and you. Here we are, with the positive side of Artificial Intelligence:

a.Artificial Intelligence does not recognize intellectual laziness
While human intelligence has managed to achieve leaps and bounds in various fields at different levels, it is always highly susceptible to spells of complacence and “intellectual laziness”. That’s where AI steps in. Siri, Alexa and Cortana do not tire of assisting you regardless of the time of day or night (for more dope on this, check out our previous blog on chatbots – http://xlnctechnologies.com/5-ways-in-which-chatbots-are-the-best-assistance/); and your personalized AI tutors will never tire of teaching you or helping you with teaching others. This is one of the reasons for Artificial Intelligence being promoted over manual task completion.

b.To err is human, so humans created Artificial Intelligence.
Einstein famously said, “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” As living beings, mistakes and blunders have always been a simultaneous process alongside the successes and accomplishments. However, Artificial Intelligence is definitely not a blunder (okay, hang on…we’re coming to the cons!). When programmed accurately, an AI technology is less likely to commit errors; and is usually flexible across different platforms.

c.‘Cause humans are so quick, they find themselves too slow…
Today, the world is now resorting to quickness and instantaneousness in whatever it does – so much so, that the natural speed of humans is sometimes too slow for this world. And so, AI bridges the gap between the fast progressing world and the people residing in it, by providing faster and more efficient ways and means of reaching the desired ends. AI is being widely used in almost all sectors today, including healthcare, education, transportation and communication, and defense and military, in order to ensure speed and accuracy with minimal compromise on either.

d.Your AI is sensitive, but not emotional.
While chatbots and GPS may be courteous and sensitive to your needs, they certainly do not possess deeper emotions and mood-swings; and you can rest assured that they will not complain of overwork and fatigue. And such a detached concern for the customers ensures that they can be reliable, diligent and caring, even when the work is strenuous and hectic.

II. AI ain’t all that good either…
But, are we headed towards utopia? Is AI really so perfect that one can totally overlook even remote possibilities of failures or disadvantages? Most definitely not! Just like everything else on this earth, AI, too, has two sides; and a lot of people are skeptical about applying this technology for this reason. Come, let’s evaluate the various drawbacks of AI, and brainstorm on each:

a.Yes, my processes will be more efficient, but at what ‘cost’?
Once installed and applied to our day-to-day lives, Artificial Intelligence can certainly be quite viable and cost effective. However, in the first place, it is important to install it to our already existing systems, and ensure that it functions optimally and independently. And these processes are not exactly economical. Designing the specific tool of AI and then training the machine to operate without human intervention can be an expensive task, and one needs to be prepared to incur the expenditure in order to enjoy the results later.

b.Your AI is emotionally intelligent, but sometimes, not intelligently emotional
Yes, AI may have been designed to understand human emotions and analyze sentiments. AI may also be able to carry out complex tasks that humans may never be able to undertake. However, there is a certain depth in perception and perspective that no machine has ever been able to touch, at least till now. And due to this incapability, AI ventures can sometimes turn into not-so-pleasant adventures. For example, in 2016, Microsoft’s Twitter chatbot created havoc when it began abusing, and passing pro-Nazi comments such as “Hitler was right.” While this experimental chatbot, Tay, was only imitating some humans who had been playing mischief, the situation was certainly alarming. Had the AI device been entirely controlled and mediated by a human, the situation may have probably been handled better.
AI technology may be perceived as an innocent child whose mind, though extremely active, is a clean slate. It is the responsibility of humans to ensure it doesn’t waiver from the right path.

c.“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Einstein meant this only for human intelligence.
Artificial Intelligence apparently cannot have fun beyond a certain extent – it is limited to the innovative strategies and programming already stored inside them by humans. And so, intrinsic creativity does not figure anywhere here. That’s a faculty exclusive to humans – and processes sans human intervention can, well, only do so much to help matters.

d.While taking the help of machines, are we becoming machines ourselves?
This is one of the greatest concerns that the modern, artificially intelligent world is having to face in the recent times. There is always a threat that Artificial Intelligence can replace human intelligence in a big way; however, a lot of us don’t realize that as creators of Artificial Intelligence, it is we who have the upper-hand over our creations. As users, one must realize that machines and technology are not meant for encouraging intellectual laziness and procrastination; but rather, for facilitating increased efficiency and application of one’s intellect. And any device, when misused, can be detrimental to society and individuals. AI is no different.



5 Ways in which Chatbots are the best assistants

“Chatbots are the new websites, and messaging platforms are the new browsers,” someone said.

Personal assistants and secretaries have existed for as long as there have been people at higher posts in offices and companies. Whether it’s typing out a letter or sending out invites for meetings, they have done it all. While these jobs of helping out another person at work have ensured enough employment generation through the decades, we can all agree that these jobs are far from lucrative. The rule-based, repetitive tasks often tend to reduce people to two hands performing uninteresting tasks without applying their intellect.
So how about a personal assistant who is ever-willing to help – whether it’s setting your alarms or informing you about today’s weather; or simply raising your spirits with a joke or tongue-twister when you’re under the weather. Welcome to the world of chatbots, your 24/7 personal assistants!
We’re back with a blog, and today, let’s dedicate a blog post to our dedicated, diligent, and sometimes quite eccentric, virtual assistants. These virtual assistants have been around for quite some time now, starting with the first of their clan, Apple’s Siri. Today, we have a handful of virtual assistants; including Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Google Assistant for smartphones and Google home; performing a world of tasks for every day:

1.Your chatbots don’t sleep at work. And they’re at work ALL THE TIME.
Let’s face it. Human assistants must not be overworked under any circumstances; and they deserve their 7 hours of sleep and timely breaks. Ever observed Cortana or Alexa not in their seats owing to tea-break or simply because they have already finished the given hours of service? Your chatbots are never, ever exhausted. Whether you want them to carry out extensive research for your business, or entertain you with a poem on one of those insomniac nights, they are available 24/7.

2.Hundred queries, one assistant!
Life can certainly be chaotic and confusing sometimes. And don’t we all look for that go-to person to consult during times of confusion? But how many queries can even the most learned and well-informed person answer at once? Yes, let’s face it – humans do have their own limitations, and it’s alright. And that’s why we have designed virtual assistants who can perform tasks that humans generally can’t – such as processing, with unbelievable accuracy, hundreds of queries asked at the same time from a thousand different devices; and providing suitable, spontaneous, and sometimes even witty responses to every individual. That’s the beauty of Artificial Intelligence.

3.Chatbots are like chameleons – they can adapt themselves to every scenario!
As discussed before, humans cannot be everywhere; and different online platforms have been designed by us in order to facilitate easier and more efficient communication across the globe. With chatbots having entered the scene, the question arises as to whether these awesome assistants can be integrated to the vast repertoire of systems and platforms built by us over the years. The answer is a resounding YES! Your chatbots are like chameleons – they can easily change colour in order to adapt themselves to the environment they are exposed to. Thus, they set up shop at practically any domain; helping you with your queries and organizing sprees; your chaotic moments and phases of boredom.

4.No, your chatbot shall not demand salary on the 1st of the coming month!
While the job profiles of customer service executives and personal assistants have always ensured employment generation, these occupations, needless to say, function on salary basis. You cannot, and must not, hire a person with dismal or no income provided to him/her. However, chatbots do not need three square-meals a day. They are more than happy to reside in the software platform in which you place them, making it their forever home; and when you ask Siri or Google Assistant whether they have families of their own, their ultimate happiness is in serving you! Other virtual assistants and chatbots are no different. It is quite economical to maintain your chatbot; updating it from time-to-time and modifying it to meet the requirements of the given platform.

5.Human spontaneity minus human impatience = Chatty Chatbot!
Your chatbot can converse with you about almost anything under the sun – keeping the to-and-fro nature of human conversation intact, while also eliminating the negative aspects of the same; such as boredom and impatience. This gives customers a near-perfect interaction experience, where they are helped by the chatbots with great precision, regardless of the time of the day/night, and the complexity level of the question.
And last but not the least, chatbots can even be customized to entertain you in whatever rational way you deem fit – right from playing games with you, to reciting poems or jokes, and engaging in occasional situational comedy during the course of your conversations.

Artificial Intelligence can certainly make life more efficient in every way; and the ‘chatbot’ wonder is probably the best example of the same. However, chatbots go one step beyond the macro level of Artificial Intelligence, to include the benefits of AI’s subfield, Machine Learning; which enables them to carry out their tasks independently, without human intervention. In a lot of ways, having bestowed life on AI and ML, humans have created forces that are capable of performing unbelievable feats that humans are either totally incapable of, or require to invest excessive amounts of time and effort to complete. However, it is important to keep in mind that it is, after all, the human caliber and intellect that has led to such an invincible creation in the first place; and so, it is our responsibility to use our creations in as optimal and secure a manner as possible.

5 ways in which RPA helps you Everyday!

It’s no secret that Robotic Process Automation is slowly taking over the repetitive, rule-based tasks in organizations. Process robots are rapidly paving the way for employees and companies to engage in much more productive and stimulating tasks, and progress in their organizational journey.
However, Robotic Process Automation has also taken over a significant place in our day-to-day lives, without even our realizing it. Every day, we interact with different technologies that quietly make our lives a little more efficient, and allow us to focus on more dynamic tasks instead. We’re back with a blog, and this time, we shall discuss some significant functions that RPA performs in our day-to-day lives:

1.Shop assured, as your software bot makes your repository!
You so love that classy pair of shoes. You add it to your cart, Check-out to purchase the product, pay for the product, and successfully place the order, before you get back to what you were doing before. But have you ever wondered what processes take place at the other end? Once you place your order, they are then tracked on repositories, and it is after stock maintenance that your item is finally dispatched to you. If done manually, these tasks are extremely time-consuming and monotonous, and prevent any other form of productive activity that might actually benefit the retail website. And hence, process robots often take over, and make life more efficient; both for the sellers as well as the buyers. Happy shopping and selling!

2.If it’s a WEB, let automation be the spider!
With millions and millions of individuals and groups operating on the internet day in and day out across the globe, web analytics can become extremely complex and tedious. Moreover, such a vast repertoire of users also calls for a wide variety of target groups, leading to extremely diverse consumer needs and requirements. In such a world of cut-throat competition, it is essential for organizations to come up with out-of-the-box advertising and marketing strategies in order to attract the attention of such a wide audience. And in such a case, tasks such as carrying out static web analytics can certainly become tedious and tiring. This is where bots enter the scenario, and crawl the internet to come up with all the data required for advertisers to then consider interesting advertising hacks and strategies. It’s a dynamic world – let’s not limit ourselves by performing monotonous tasks.

3.‘Troubleshooting?’ Shoot the trouble with RPA.
Brainstorming on the solutions to complex organizational problems can cause frustration and boredom in an employee; moreover, since ‘imperfect’ is the synonym for ‘human’, it is but natural for human decision makers to commit errors in their decision making process. However, bots and AI are different. Using RPA and AI, one can automate these troubleshooting processes, thus making work-life more efficient and error-free.

4.How may our process bot help you today, please?
The helpdesk is usually our preliminary go-to area in case of any complications or issues relating to the website or service in question. But have you wondered how the super-humans behind the helpdesk manage to answer you in that courteous tonality despite having just answered fifty calls in the past half an hour? Yes, it can get quite tedious. And let’s face it, the customer-service persons deserve their breaks, too. That’s when process robots enter the picture. Process robots can act as the connecting medium between the customers and customer service personnel; in that it is possible to automate those aspects of the conversation which are static and common to all customers. So, the next time you indulge in a customer-service interaction, remember that it may not always necessarily be a human behind the desk – it could be a bot.

5.Your bot can also roll out your payroll!
Ever experienced a delay in receiving your pay? That’s because the poor humans dealing with your salary have to enter payroll information pulled out from different sources into your payroll system. And this task, of course, is extremely time-consuming and repetitive. Why not recruit a bot for this process? And so, in modern times, there is certainly a probability that a process bot deals with your payroll system.

A lot of times, people fear that RPA might take away from them the humanness afforded to them by their mundane lives. However, the above examples are testimony to the fact that this is far from the truth – process bots do not take away the human angle from a person’s everyday life. They merely help everyday living become more efficient and comfortable.

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