PV Kannan is the Co-Founder and CEO of 7.ai. Since 2000, he has been leading the revolution to make customer service easy and enjoyable for consumers. In 1995, PV's first company, Business Evolution Inc., developed the first generation of email and chat solutions. The company was acquired by Kana in 1999 and PV became part of the management team. At 7.ai, PV was a pioneer in integrating customer service technology with business process operations to improve all aspects of the customer experience. PV has been at the forefront of customer experience from creating contact center agent services, developing a big data predictive analytics platform, creating omnichannel solutions for the web, mobile, chat, social, and speech IVR, to innovating mobile-centric applications. Over the years PV has been a thought leader in global customer service and has been featured in the books, The World is Flat and That Used to Be Us by Thomas L. Friedman, India Inside by Nirmalya Kumar and Phanish Puranam, and Reinventing Management: Smarter Choices for Getting Work Done by Julian Birkinshaw. PV is on the Board of Directors for Achievers. He has over 20 patents (issued and pending). PV has degrees in accounting and finance from the Institute of Chartered Accountants and The Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India.
If you’ve seen the movie “Snakes on a Plane,” you’ll recall the scene where Samuel L. Jackson uses some colorful language to describe how fed up he is with all the snakes on that plane. While I’m going to use less colorful language here, substitute “killer robots” for “snakes” and “the conversation about AI” for the word “plane,” and you’ll understand how I feel. Even if you haven’t seen it, you get the idea.
In 2017 AI was everywhere. It seemed like every company added “AI” to their software whether it truly leveraged artificial intelligence or not. So let’s start with a definition of AI. Merriam-Webster defines it as 1) a branch of computer science dealing with the simulation of intelligent behavior in computers, and 2) the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior. Put through that basic filter, I believe will we see a big “AI Shakeout” in 2018.
As the Olympics kick into high gear, I’m looking forward to watching people who were once ordinary humans perform superhuman feats. This doesn’t happen by accident. These humans have worked incredibly hard to do things we didn’t think were physically possible a few years ago, and with each Olympics, we see new records broken. That’s what’s happening in AI for customer experience. By incorporating human senses, and with lots of training, super-human feats are possible.
In the 90s, Amazon did something in the customer service space that persists today. Like many companies, Amazon added a 1-800 number that enables consumers to speak to a customer service representative, but it’s impossible to find on the website. Companies deliberately make this number difficult to find because paying agents to handle calls is expensive, and companies seek to avoid it at all costs. What Amazon and others do is attempt to provide some sort of self-service filtering that prevents everyone from calling it when they don’t need to.
When Mary Meeker’s most recent Internet Report came out, a few things caught my eye. A lot of what Mary talks about is the shift to social, video, more interactive, virtual experiences and walled gardens (Facebook and Google own 85% share of digital spend). While ad spend continues to migrate to digital channels, marketers are shifting dollars to focus on delivering quality branded experiences over volume-based programmatic ads.