Negotiating with AI

01 Sep 2020

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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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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

Partnering with Insurtechs

Dear Reader,  
Insurers across the world are adjusting to the new normal of the on-going pandemic, and as a result, there is massive acceleration in digital transformation efforts. For this purpose, Insurers and non-insurance companies alike are bringing on insurtech companies as strategic partners. 
Gartner defines insurtechs as technology companies that are in their early stages of operation; that drive specific innovation across the insurance value chain by leveraging new technologies, user interfaces, business processes or business models; that leverage different forms of funding, including venture capital. 
As per a CB Insights report, Funding to insurtech companies hit yearly and quarterly highs in 2020 and Q1‘21, respectively, signaling the confidence investors have in the future of the insurance tech market. In 2020, business relationships involving insurtech companies also hit a record high, coming in at over 650 partnerships for the year. 
Companies such as Axa, Munich Re, and American Family are among the insurers with the most formal business relationships with insurtech companies. Recently, China-headquartered Leapstack, an AI-enabled InsurTech company specializing in healthcare, has announced a strategic plan to ink strategic partnerships with multiple Korean insurance companies as the company advances into the South Korean market. 
Some Consumer-facing insurtech companies are partnering with other tech providers to improve their product offerings.For instance, auto insurtech Root provides additional benefits to policyholders via partnerships with road assistance app Agero and gas station location app GasBuddy. Home insurtech Hippo recently partnered with ADT and Handdii to improve the security and home repair services it offers policyholders. As these insurtech companies look to aggressively grow their customer bases, expect them to continue partnering with companies that offer complementary digital services. 
The partnership between Galileo Platforms, a specialist blockchain technology platform for the insurance industry, and Amodo, a provider of insurance telematics technology and advisory services, including behaviour data analysis, will enable clients to benefit from their diverse experience and expertise in their respective areas of the insurance industry. 
Primary core insurance software vendors like Duck Creek, Guidewire, and Unqork are also among the most active in partnering with insurtechs. These companies are incorporating complementary insurtech products to create a stickier experience for customers by tying these products to their core suites. Horizontal software providers like Microsoft and Salesforce and more mature insurtech platforms like Bold Penguin and Snapsheet have also actively formed partnerships to build out their insurance ecosystem capabilities. 
We believe, as insurtech companies mature and build increasingly innovative solutions, expect to see insurers double down on successful partnerships and explore new ones. 
Credits : Akhil Handa Aparna Anand

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