‘Frugality is a painful lesson many startups are learning through this crisis
As per a recent report, the global process automation market size was somewhat around $138 billion in 2016 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.6% to $178 billion in 2020. Now, with the current pandemic, it’s quite debatable whether that’s achievable.
However, startups have been strongly rooting for leveraging AI in their daily operations. Siddhartha S, founder, IN-D tells us why is that of paramount importance.
Have you learnt any critical lessons during the pandemic? Does technology play a major role in easing things out?
One critical lesson reinforced in last few months is the need for organisations to be able to run a location-agnostic seamless operation. KYC and customer onboarding, insurance claims administration, processing invoices, onboarding employees, even audits – an organisation needs to leverage the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to be able to run these functions remotely but seamlessly. Therefore, what was earlier a need for which people were exploring solutions has become a necessity now, and in some cases critical to surviving.
How is IN-D leveraging AI to the maximum possible extent?
The problem with wider adoption of companies providing AI-based platforms is that they have been treated more like services companies than product companies. So, you bear the expense of training of their models in terms of your time and money. IN-D is an AI platform that helps organizations do all this without the time or cost to train and deploy AI models. Because IN-D comes with a suite of pre-trained, ready to deploy solutions, the user organization thus feel like a product for her specific problem. For instance, IN-D KYC is like any other KYC product, but lower in cost and more intelligent because of which it is adaptable to new IDs or new countries’ requirements. Same is the case with IN-D HR which can help companies’ onboard employees but also help colleges complete the admission process remotely for the coming season by reading and understanding degree certificates and marksheets, company offer letters and relieving letters, etc.
Could you give us an insight into the execution of technology at IN-D?
As a company, we are completely focused on getting data from documents, images and videos, followed by synthesising it into actionable information. All our products have this mechanism at their core. To execute this, we use various machine learning and deep learning techniques. IN-D’s genesis is at the AI Lab of Intain, therefore, we retain the same R&D focus and rigor in areas of computer vision, NLP etc.
How critical do you think is it for organisations to be fully tech-enabled? Would that be the best option?
As mentioned earlier, this is now a necessity. It is critical for organisations adopt AI in their operations and important for companies like ours to make this adoption easier. As far as follies are concerned, there are two things to bear in mind – (1) AI is about decisions and hence probabilistic, so it will never be like a rule-based software. The threshold has to ensure whether it is better, faster, and cheaper than the current operating model. (2) Ethics in AI is a wide area of debate. An easy example here is that if we fed all the data to an AI engine and trained it based on past outcomes of loans, it might be able to map even buildings and neighborhoods, which in turn may correspond to communities. It will create the best model to decide on a loan, but the question will be whether that is the most ethical model?
Where does IN-D see itself 3 years down the line?
IN-D now has ready to deploy solutions for six different industry specific or enterprise processes. In some of these like KYC, we believe that the industry has got a raw deal till now and we will work towards market leadership. In other areas, like Operational Risk, we hold a unique position where our job is to create the market for AI enabled automation.
Our immediate focus is India, SE Asia and Middle East. Over the long term, we will expand to Europe and the US, and also add to our ready to deploy solutions portfolio – like legal contracts and equities research.
Takeaway for the wannabes?
Each venture is different. However, something common that I see between the journeys of Intain, a US and Europe focused capital markets platform using a blockchain at the core, and IN-D, an AI enabled automation platform, are frugality and focus. For example, to stick the core R&D spirit of IN-D, we refuse too much routine process automation work that does not involve AI and if critical to a process, work with other RPA players and system integrators. This means that we have to be good enough that these large multi-billion-dollar entities partner with us to complement their offering. Frugality is a painful lesson many startups are learning through this crisis, so I think no one will advising on this anymore!