Artificial intelligence may once have been the purview of science fiction books and movies, but increasingly, it is being used as a way for businesses to get a handle on the daily minutiae of transactions and customer interaction.
One firm that has been marrying work processes and machine learning is WorkFusion, which, through AI cognitive services, seeks to automate what can be termed “knowledge work”— in effect, everything from invoices to eCommerce itself — in a process that has as its goal the elimination of repetitive tasks that can be prone to delays and human error. Machines, in this regard, take over at least some of the daily tasks that need to be performed on both small and grand scales.
In recent news tied to the company, WorkFusion linked up with enterprise services firm Hexaware to provide automated business processes through digital managed services.
In an interview with PYMNTS, Adam Devine, WorkFusion’s vice president of product marketing and strategic partnerships, said that the process of workflow automation in its truest form can be thought of as intelligent augmentation — an event “where technology makes people and work better.” The fact remains that knowledge workers, globally, are inundated with repetitive tasks that are focused around gathering data, yet those tasks are prone to error. The firm has sought to remedy that pain point by bringing smart machines together with large workforces, termed “smart crowd” work.
The crowdsourcing model brings together large labor pools (typically outsourced and WorkFusion has millions of workers across its own freelance marketplace) with the software provided by WorkFusion, wherein data is collected, organized and, via algorithms, helps ascertain the best way to streamline processes and shift the burden of tasks from human to computer. Though the initial applications would naturally fit eCommerce, which is one of the verticals served by the company — where, for example, AI and machine learning “can ‘understand’ what the consumer means” when they are querying or shopping across a website, yet may misspell a word or phrase — Devine noted that it is the processing of the thousands of pieces of information that can also benefit from the hybrid model of machine learning and outsourced workers. For eCommerce (where even live chat functions are now automated rather than putting a real person on the corporate end of the conversation), he said, the goal with AI is to “relieve the burden of customer services on people.”
At present, said Devine, WorkFusion serves eCommerce, financial services and banks, with plans to expand eventually to manufacturing and other sectors where paper processing or repetitive tasks may be the norm. “Invoicing remains such an intense process” in the day-to-day management of business cycles. Within cross-border transactions, or B2B interactions, invoices can be presented differently and can be submitted in different languages, so processing them can be time-consuming. Trade finance, said the executive, also can be streamlined and cash flow cycles improved through the categorization and processing of everything from import and export invoices to bills of lading.