In an interaction with CRN India, Asheesh Mehra, Co-founder and Group CEO, AntWorks, talks about how the company is redefining automation with its Integrated Automation Platform (IAP) and enabling partners to build a practice around the powerful combination of IAP and professional services
With the rise of AI and Automation, tell us about the opportunities being created for AntWorks?
With the rise of AI, we have seen adoption of automation tools across various sectors for business scalability. Artificial Intelligence will transform enterprise operation to another level and will witness major adoption across healthcare, logistics and transportation, media and entertainment among others.
Traditional RPA solutions using optimal character recognition (OCR) are not capable of addressing the unstructured data problem in enterprises which will make up 80% of the world’s data by 2025. In such a scenario, AntWorks, is redefining automation with ANTstein SQUARE, the world’s first and only Integrated Automation Platform (IAP), powered by fractal science.
The key differentiator as compared to other Gen 1 RPA solution providers is that our platform is capable in reading all kinds of data – Image, Inferred, structured and unstructured and deliver end to end straight through processing. We are keen on replicating the success across Asia, UK and the US, automating entire business processes end-to-end for many clients across the BFSI (Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance), transportation, logistics and public sector, among others.
As enterprises are embarking on their digital transformation journey, how are you helping them leverage the full potential of AI and Intelligent Automation?
We are living in the age of data deluge and unstructured data will be making up 80 per cent of the world’s data by 2025. In such a scenario, an enterprise’s digital transformation journey will be heavily influenced by integrated automation platforms backed by fractal science.
Over the last five years, resources were ploughed into educating the industry on the benefits of moving towards Integrated Automation Platform (IAP) and seeing automation as a business process, beyond just task automation. In May 2019, AntWorks launched the industry’s first IAP, ANTstein SQUARE. This one of a kind, multitenancy solution allows for maximum bot utilisation, understands all types of data, and provides customers with a one-stop solution for data curation and building, deploying and managing an AI-enabled digital workforce. Customers benefit from this because fractal science requires smaller data sets, which in turn means higher accuracy, less infrastructure and quicker training time.
Tell us about the innovation being brought into your offerings that are poised to address the customers’ complex digital challenges?
When we wanted to enter the market, we were very clear about the fact that OCR (Optical Character Recognition), the industry’s standard tool for extracting data was unable to address the unstructured data challenge of enterprises. We developed an alternative to OCR called Cognitive Machine Reading (CMR), our proprietary technology which uses fractal science and pattern recognition to read and ingest every type of data.
The cognitive machine reading engine, which is AntWorks’ front end data ingestion engine based on fractal science is the most powerful differentiator in the marketplace today. AntWorks ANTstein SQUARE offering was born as the industry’s first IAP that provides enterprises with the ability to process all types of data using an all in one solution for data curation, building, deploying and managing an AI-enabled digital workforce. The ANTstein SQUARE platform curates, transports and uses machine learning simultaneously to help enterprises experience the seamless automation journey that they are looking for. The platform addresses every data type, so businesses don’t miss out on the value of various forms of unstructured data.
Looking at the industry trends, can you cite a few use cases where the AI / Intelligent Automation is being explored to solve some unique problems?
In India we see a huge scope in the BFSI sector and are working with City Union Bank (CUB), one of the largest banks in South India. City Union Bank onboard almost 200 new customers each month. It must process the data of every single customer, which from physical form to digital upload takes about one hour to complete. The bank also needed to solve the problem of rising manpower costs and multiple errors and entries. Not to mention potential business loss due to delays in KYC verification.
ANTstein square, provides an end-to-end cKYC compliant solution helping CUB achieve faster onboarding and regulatory compliance. The cognitive machine reading module of ANTstein square ingests, contextualizes, and converts all KYC documents including handwritten text, photographs, and signatures all on a single integrated platform. Once completed, data is uploaded into the CERSAI central repository to achieve compliance. ANTstein square helped CUB achieve a 97% increase in productivity, a 70% decrease in manual work, zero errors and 100% compliance.
What are your views on having a robust, supportive IT infrastructure for AI (for example, the required amount of data integrity and consolidation / data lake or warehouse, etc?)
A robust and supportive IT infrastructure for AI depends on a couple of critical understandings. Its pertinent to know how a country is investing in its own digital transformation process. The willingness to invest and draft smart regulations for facilitation of digitization is a key to an IT infrastructure which supports end to end implementation of artificial intelligence. The limits of AI are unknown just yet, if a machine can learn how to do a simple task, it can also be trained to do a complex task, time becomes the variable.
We, at AntWorks, firmly believe that humane, responsible AI, is the way forward. To fully realise the true benefits, potential and strength of AI, we need to build a system of trust both in the technology and in those who are responsible for developing and deploying it. This includes the collection of data and how it is being used that requires a level of smart regulations, accountability, and traceability.
With AI predicted to be beneficial across a wide spectrum of industries and through a wide range of applications, it makes the most sense to regulate the application of the technology—in their specific contexts. Governments and policymakers need to work closely with professional bodies from each industry to better advise the decision makers with regard to what the technology is needed for, how it will work, and even how it may impact the workforce.
Tell us about your presence in India? How has been the acceptance of your solutions by the Indian enterprises?
With presence in Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore and Delhi, we have a headcount of about 430 people in India. AntWorks research & development (R&D) is done in India and the team continually strives towards differentiated product offerings to bring to the marketplace.
We have seen a strong traction for automation solutions in the banking and financial sector. AntWorks has revolutionised business processes and the overall operational efficiencies of enterprises in every sector by helping them move past task-based automation to achieve scalable, end-to-end business process automation, using Integrated Automation Platform (IAP). For example, if an organization had to deploy an automation program today within its business unit, it would go to five or six different service providers and product providers for RPA, Optimal Character Recognition & NLP among others. With AntWorks ANTstein platform, one has access to all the tools under one roof and one umbrella providing straight through processing for customers. We have witnessed huge growth in India and the rate of growth is more than North America and Europe.
Could you articulate your GTM strategy for the India market? Please share your roadmap for 2020 and beyond?
We have a partner-led go-to-market model combined with our business practices and integrated Automation Platform (IAP), which delivers an unmatched opportunity for partners and alliances. With a business model that creates unprecedented upside for partners, and tools that offset operational costs to remove barriers that limit profitability, we are enabling partners to build a practice around the powerful combination of IAP and professional services.
Going forward, in 2020, we want to keep the momentum of enabling enterprises automate their end-to-end business processes quickly, easily and in a scalable manner with the help of Integrated Automation Platform.