Beerud Sheth, CEO of Gupshup, a global leader in customer experience and conversational AI, in a conversation with AisaBizToday discusses the integral role of AI in financial services and what it will take to ensure AI is truly a force for good. Gupshup is the world leader in API bot technology. Its mission is to build the most advanced and innovative platform for conversational engagement with a focus on delivering customer delight.
Over 44,000 businesses around the world rely on its platform for customer messaging, including Google, Verizon, Citibank, McDonald’s, and Amazon; Sheth explains how we experience AI through a customer experience lens. Sheth sees humans and AI pushing each other to adapt and evolve. In an interview with AsiaBizToday, Sheth asserts life will change for us all in the coming decades thanks to AI technology. Excerpts:
Q: Where do you foresee fintech going with the advent of generative AI and is the industry prepared to handle the challenges?
A: Fintech businesses are leveraging Generative AI to automate tasks, improve customer experiences, and make better financial decisions. A great use case is the AI bot as your personalized financial planner. Say you want to buy term insurance but do not know how to pick the right one. But once you offer some details- age, salary, occupation, the bot can recommend right term plans for you. Fintech companies can also leverage generative AI for advanced risk management. AI algorithms can analyze market trends, assess potential risks, and make real-time decisions to optimize investment portfolios and mitigate financial risks. Currently we see brands using it a lot for offering prompt customer service, allowing human agents to focus on more complex and strategic aspects of their work.
However, generative AI adoption in fintech needs to be done cautiously, with a focus on robustness, ethics, and security. Fintech firms need to ensure generative models are developed carefully to avoid perpetuating bias, inaccuracies and introducing new risks. It requires rigorous testing and audit processes. Data security and privacy are critical when applying generative AI to sensitive financial data as any vulnerabilities could expose sensitive client information.
Q: Would you agree that Generative AI has been the biggest development in 2023? What can we expect 2024 to bring about in this area?
A: Generative AI has been the most significant technology development since the internet. Systems like Open AI’s GPT-4, DALL-E 2, Stable Diffusion have demonstrated major leaps in generative capabilities for image, text, and speech generation. Besides, augmenting human productivity and its various applications in content creation, Gen AI is writing a new chapter for customer experience with smarter, more advanced conversational agents.
In 2024, we can expect continued improvements in the sophistication and multi-modal capabilities of generative models. For example, we’ll see models that combine text, images, audio, and video coherently. It’s likely to become integrated into more consumer and enterprise applications and workflows. More businesses may leverage it for content, personalization, and process automation. In 2024, we’ll also see increased focus on addressing ethical challenges like misinformation, bias, and intellectual property with respect to Gen AI resulting in legal and regulatory frameworks evolving for it.
Q: Given the advent of deepfakes and other challenges, is AI likely to be a short-lived bubble or will countries be able to bring about regulation to manage these developments?
A: The capabilities of AI systems, including deep learning, have grown tremendously in recent years and are being proven out in commercial deployments. So, I don’t think AI is a short-lived phenomenon. Major investments are being made by tech companies, startups, governments and other organizations and adoption is accelerating, with more companies deploying AI for tasks like predictive analytics, personalized recommendations, chatbots, computer vision etc.
The business case for AI is stronger now. Having said that, governments do need to manage risks like deep fakes via regulation and counter-technologies. The EU for example has proposed laws to control high-risk AI apps. Ethics and algorithmic bias are areas that need governance intervention. In the long-run, AI is a foundational technology expected to drive economic productivity and growth. It may go through temporary hype cycles but is unlikely to fizzle out overall.
Q: With Gupshup’s leadership in customer messaging, how do you think the average customer experience has progressed with the AI?
A: In the realm of Conversational Engagement, wherever AI bots are used, the experience has been extremely satisfying and delightful for the end user. Imagine talking to a business bot that can engage you with small talk, shows products exactly as per your specifications and if needed offers prompt support any time of the day. Compare this to customer care calls where you’ve to wait for several minutes for first, the call to connect and then for the executive to offer a proper redressal. With generative AI bots everything is streamlined in a matter of minutes which saves precious hours of headache for you as a user and agent utilization for the brand.
From product discovery, lead generation, and commerce to troubleshooting and customer support, generative AI bots enable more precise, human-like interactions delivered with speed and scale. We have seen great results with brands that deployed GenAI based chatbots. The largest state-run utility company in UAE deployed Gupshup’s Generative AI bot for FAQ automation and saw a 94.3% resolution rate.
Similarly, a leading QSR chain leveraged our Gen AI bot to increase its up-sell and cross-sell revenue by more than 52%. In many cases CSAT percentages have seen an uptick after deployment of these bots, clearly indicating that these bots elevate the customer experience.
Q: Are countries in Asia Pacific prepared for the AI revolution sweeping the industries?
A: The Asia Pacific region is poised to be at the forefront of the AI revolution. With its large and growing economies, young population, and technological expertise, the region has the potential to become a global leader in AI adoption and innovation. Take for example China. China has launched a number of AI initiatives, including the National AI Development Plan and the Beijing AI Industry Development Action Plan. Japan and South Korea have launched their own AI initiatives and are investing heavily in AI training at the university level.
Even in India, we see a lot of interest among businesses to adopt and invest in AI technologies as a means of bringing efficiency. Adoption is faster in some industries (e.g., consumer tech) versus others (e.g., manufacturing). So, preparedness levels vary. Preparedness levels also vary across countries wherein we see a significant gap in AI development and adoption between the advanced and developing economies in the region leading to a digital divide kind of situation.
With the Asia Pacific region being home to over half of the world’s population, and a population that’s becoming increasingly educated and tech-savvy, we are looking at a large pool of talent for AI development and adoption. What we need is more investment in AI training programs and supportive policies. Overall, while parts of Asia Pacific are making strong progress on AI, other countries likely have work to do in developing technical capabilities, infrastructure, policies, and talent to be ready for an AI-powered future. But the region is seen as critical for AI advancement globally.