Digital transformation needs deep re-engineering of business processes, which is a challenge to the majority of companies. It is an opinion of Nikita Kardashin, Head of data science and machine learning solutions development division of IT systems automation and service operations at NAUMEN, given during the interview for the press service of AI Conference.
In the interview, he told about the companies that have already managed to implement AI in own operations and which difficulties occur with digital transformation.
Nikita Kardashin has been engaged in NAUMEN for 6 years. Here, he is a member of the software development team in the field of AI for the companies in financial, energy and state sectors.
Interviewer: AI Conference (AI)
Respondent: Nikita Kardashin (N.К.)
AI: The company you work at, NAUMEN, develops solutions based on Big Data and machine learning. Please, tell us what is a difference between your products and their foreign analogs in terms of quality?
N.К.: What makes us special is that we are a domestic developer and work under economic conditions peculiar to Russia. We have a consulting experience in process building and re-engineering on the local market – we know how it works in practice and what problems Russian companies may face.
Speaking about the technologies of machine learning and data analysis, there exist some nuances. For example, processing of natural Russian language considerably differs from English, German and others due to peculiarities of its morphology and semantics. It requires a specific toolset that we have. International vendors often lack it. That is why the results of their projects in Russia are not so satisfying as customers expect. What is also beneficial to Russian clients is our availability so that clients can come to our office, have a quick talk, get help and technical assistance. We are here and always ready to give a hand.
In terms of quality and development, software products are traditionally compared by functionality. Here, we are undoubtedly world leaders. For example, company’s solutions in the field of contact centers successfully compete with such vendors as Avaya and Genesis. What is more, our tools for business processes automation and IT divisions – with the solutions of Hewlett-Packard, BMC and IBM.
AI: In your opinion, what spheres will first of all benefit from AI-powered solutions?
N.К.: In Russia, AI drivers are fintech and retail followed by oil and gas sectors, industry and power segment. AI-fueled technologies are somehow used in almost all spheres from taxi services like Yandex.Taxi to the aviation and power sector.
AI: Concerning your solutions, companies from what spheres are your most frequent clients?
N.К.: We cooperate with companies from almost all the spheres of the Russian economy. They embrace both conventional products and AI. Our clients are banks, retailers, oil and gas companies, industry, IT companies – NAUMEN has successfully presented its products in almost all the segments. Since its establishment, the company fulfilled several thousands of projects.
AI: Let’s mention AI-based solutions. In your point of view, what is a percentage of Russian companies that have already implemented such solutions into their business?
N.К.: It depends on what we identify to be implementation. A lot of companies just carried out an experiment. Almost all the companies listed in Expert 600 and RBK 500 have undergone the stage of digital experiments. Every company played around it, launched a pilot project, which appeared to be a limit to them. There are not so many organizations that in fact may be proud of making a profit out of it – I would roughly name 10% of such companies on the entire Russian market, or even less. In large business, there are more representatives.
AI: What is a bottleneck? What are the key problems of AI implementation?
N.К.: There are two big problems that prevent production. The first lies in the anticipation of magic. Many companies that deal with digital transformation technologies think that this will work as a black box: someday, almighty data scientists will come to their threshold, make up a magic model solving all business problems. What is important most of all, you will not have to change anything in a management approach and business processes. In fact, the real state of things differs. Digital transformation is not only technologies but re-engineering of business processes and the entire business paradigm, which is unfortunately not a feasible solution to everyone.
It often involves stressful changes in both politics and organizational processes that require certain decisiveness. There is no magic wand to fix all the problems.
The second problem lies in the absence of real obstacles and motivation to go through changes, which is a frequent case in the resource segment and state-owned companies. When everything is OK, there is no urgent need for changes.
AI: Doesn’t it mean that these companies would not see the benefit from AI?
N.К.: In most cases, large companies are characterized by a time-taking decision-making process. Of course, owners and shareholders strive to boost income and are ready for business transformation to attain breakthrough results. However, they do not tend to deal with operative administration and do not make certain transformative decisions. Junior managers show less interest in any changes. For them, changes are more risks than opportunities. By the way, not all the companies offer a system of motivation that encourages risk-involving actions.
In the companies run by CEO or senior managers interested in transformation, there is a bigger chance to fulfill projects more quickly and generate more revenue. If top managers are not likely to accept changes, the process is rather difficult.
AI: How would you assess the growth of the IT market for AI in Russia within the last year?
N.К.: Taking into consideration the number of the projects fulfilled, I think that the market has surged within this year by at least two times.
AI: Do you see the growth of demand for your products?
N.К.: Sure, the demand has significantly risen recently. I reckon that we have already gone far from the period when transformation technologies were just a buzz. The stage of experiments will soon become a thing of the past, and everybody will see the effect. Of course, we shouldn’t expect digital technologies to do magic but it helps solve specific business tasks and attain results.
AI: Are only those who jump to a new development stage capable of getting the point of this growth?
N.К.: We should remember about a state’s role in the support and initiative in terms of digitalization. It also has a great impact, particularly on state-owned companies. However, I think that the main reason for the growth is that technologies are becoming a necessary thing, not even luxury.
AI: If someone buys a product of your company, how is it implemented?
N.К.: Needs of our client is of primary importance to us. NAUMEN works with different companies: we create solutions for both small and medium business, including SaaS models and Enterprise segment.
In projects of data analysis and machine learning systems inclusion, research takes 50% of working time. First of all, we identify a need, analyze current business processes and search for data that would help us improve them by introducing predictive, classification and voice models. In most cases, it’s difficult to obtain an access to such data, particularly in large companies with a bureaucratized system of information security.
Then, we move on to the project fulfillment: create a solution, implement it into the business processes of a client, consult managers and end users. In other cases, we conduct re-engineering of this business process so that the solution is ultimate.
AI: Were there cases than companies rejected implementation of your solutions after having analyzed all of them?
N.К.: Yes, it happens. We cannot avoid such situations at all. We always strive to work with clients and explain the value of projects. If a company decides that it is not ready to change processes and implement a system, it’s better to give it some time in order to get mature enough. If not today, then tomorrow every company will understand the necessity of changes.
AI: Please, provide an example of your solutions introduction into business. Are there any figures demonstrating their effectiveness?
N.К.: Our product Naumen Service Management Intelligent Automation (SMIA) in the sphere of intellectual service automation allows to accelerate processing of routine calls by 50% and solve 30% requests with no operators at all. These results are proven. SMIA helps minimize staff expenses and improve service quality on the whole.
Solutions based on Naumen Business Services Monitoring allow to predict up to 30% of accidents in information technology or other infrastructures. It reduces damage from emergencies and boosts that overall service quality.
AI: What do you expect from AI Conference in Moscow?
N.К.: It’s good to see so many dedicated events in Russia organized within the last year and quick growth of the Russian expert community in data science and AI. I hope this conference will encourage more CEOs, business owners and managers to accept the inevitability and necessity of transformation. Theoretically, we hope them to see at our company that is always ready to help.