31 Aug 2020

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In the current dynamic universe, companies are finding ad-hoc approach of running continuous upgrades to large monolithic platforms increasingly tedious and inefficient. Progressive organizations can no longer count on the rigid systems that require weeks of rework to support a new business process. Enter Micro-services! It is a way of breaking large software projects into loosely coupled modules, which communicate with each other through simple APIs.

In recent years, adoption of micro-services architecture is becoming a proven success strategy in the software development industry. According to the report by Red Hat, organizations are using micro-services to re-architect their existing applications; as much as the technology being used for brand new applications.

Micro-services offer numerous benefits for application architects and development teams. These include flexibility around implementation technology, scalability and cloud readiness. These benefits align well with the growing demand of a new system that can adapt to the demands of digital business in highly competitive ecosystems. For instance, early adopters like Airbnb, Disney, Dropbox, GE, Goldman Sachs and Twitter have seen development lead times cut by as much as 75 percent, thanks to the adoption of micro-services.

This trend is increasingly being adopted by Bigtechs as well. For example, Microsoft has opened up its Service Fabric platform which is a distributed systems platform to package, deploy and manage scalable and reliable micro-services. Similarly, IBM, Google and Lyft have teamed up to form Istio, an open technology that provides a way for developers to connect, manage and secure networks of different micro-services, regardless of platform, source or vendor. Apart from this, California based Nginx which supports the operation of around 450 million global websites including those of Netflix, Instagram and Pinterest, has set up shop in Australia to support companies embracing micro-services.

Recognizing the need to deliver value to customers faster, many banks are seizing the opportunity to implement micro-services architecture. By implementing such innovative architecture, Ubank created Australia's first home loan application chatbot, innovating and improving customer experience. Similarly, UK based digital bank Monzo is also using cloud and micro-services architecture to develop back end structure.

Micro-services can deliver better agility and scalability advantages than any other archetype. Several vendors are developing frameworks and platforms that simplify adoption of the micro-services architecture. However, we believe it will take some time for micro-services to evolve into complete and robust mainstream platform

Credits : Akhil Handa

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Insurance, through Crowdfunding

With the emergence of Uber and AirBnB, ‘Sharing Economy’ has proven to be beneficial on a real-time basis across multiple industries, including transportation, real estate and hospitality.  
Even in the Insurance sector, numerous InsureTech start-ups are enabling P2P or crowd-based models that leverage  crowdfunding. It allows for more people to be insured by aiding underserved markets. Collective purchasing yields preferential pricing to those subscribed to peer-based insurance programs. 
Acknowledging  this innovative approach, insurance, financial services and e-commerce sites around the world have begun to offer crowdfunding approaches to covering expenses. For instance, Love Upgrading is a crowd-funded insurance service offered on WeChat, China’s voice and text messaging app. Clients on the platform can pay an initial premium of US16 for one year of insurance with USD 8,000 of coverage. By sharing the link on WeChat and invite friends, the insurance amount can be raised upto USD 15,000.  
Similarly, China’s second-biggest e-commerce player JD has launched a Kickstarter-like crowdfunding platform, Coufenzi, which allows participants to invest in a movie of their choice, with deposits as low as ~USD 20. These deposits are then bundled into the company’s wealth management and insurance products that pay a fixed interest rate. 
On the other hand, Friendsurance follows similar method to offer cheaper insurance to customers using an innovative peer-to-peer method. Customers can connect online and create their own insurance pool. Small claims are paid out of this pool, with bigger claims covered by traditional insurance.  
To leverage the power of crowdfunding, number of insurance companies are partnering with crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Wishberry to raise funds. On the other hand, some insurers like TIAACREF are hosting campaigns on a dedicated social network called the Communities, on which members can discuss their financial health, exchange ideas and host campaigns.  
In today’s age of technology-enabled collaboration, crowdfunding has a great potential to make inroads in insurance focussing on under-served population. Given the ever-growing proportion of non- or under-insured individuals, crowdfunding could be a lucrative way of addressing mass market needs, especially individual disability benefits, retirements and pensions, as well as group plans. 

Negotiating with AI

Negotiation is a fundamental business skill—one that is inextricably linked with human emotion and psychology as much as economic calculus. Many companies negotiate countless contracts a year, ranging from facilities rentals, technology licenses, sales, employment or strategic partnerships. One of the biggest challenges, companies face in negotiating contracts is that they span such a wide variety of topics. Even the best-trained negotiators may struggle when parsing through a contract that is outside of their purview.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is capable of performing many tasks that enhance human labour and thinking — so it only stands to reason that it can provide an advantage in the negotiation process as well. There are several levels on which this is happening.
As salespeople or customer service reps interact with customers electronically, they may be able to take advantage of real-time AI recommendations to help guide the engagement or transaction. Rather than monitor singular conversations and interject recommendations on a case-by-case basis, the AI-based negotiation system digests lots of conversational data across lots of sales reps to try to understand where there are coaching opportunities, new training opportunities, value prop improvement opportunities, and product improvement opportunities.
AI can also be applied against transaction or customer relationship management (CRM) data, to sift through responses and engagements to determine where and how companies may be missing opportunities. Also, there are chatbots that can be trained to bargain with customers.
Estonian startup Pactum, which provides an AI-based commercial negotiation tool, was engaged by Walmart to automate negotiations with part of its global supplier network. Pactum's AI-based negotiation tool starts the process by interviewing the customer, recording all the required information surrounding the negotiation, and determining the value for each possible tradeoff in the contract for the customer. Pactum's team then builds the negotiation flows.
Project Debater is the first AI system that can debate humans on complex topics. Project Debater digests massive texts, constructs a well-structured speech on a given topic, delivers it with clarity and purpose, and rebuts its opponent. It can analyze a proposition and automatically highlight the best arguments for and against it, factoring in both logical and emotional impact. Eventually IBM predicts, Project Debater will help people reason by providing compelling, evidence-based arguments and limiting the influence of emotion, bias, or ambiguity.
Perhaps one day, robot lawyers will go forth to negotiate on our behalf. But, in the meantime, A.I. can be used today to improve humans’ negotiation tactics.
Credits : Akhil Handa

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