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84% Indian consumers feel AI drives better customer experience

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Artificial-Intelligence

About 84 per cent Indian consumers agree that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to provide better customer experience, improve brand reputation, and increase customer loyalty, a study revealed on Thursday.

According to software company Pegasystems, the study surveyed over 1,000 consumers in India on their views about AI as it relates to morality, ethical behaviour and empathy.

Indian consumers generally trust new technologies like AI if they see the potential to improve their productivity and make things simpler. But at the same time, respondents still worry about the ethics behind AI and the potential for it to act with bias, the company said in a statement.

The study also indicated that almost 78 per cent are comfortable interacting with AI for business-related queries.

“This presents an important opportunity for Indian companies to accelerate their AI adoption — particularly as the pandemic forces them to increase their digital engagement capabilities,” Suman Reddy, Managing Director, Pegasystems India, said in a statement.

“By taking an empathetic and ethical approach to AI, businesses can ensure their customers’ faith in AI is rewarded with better service – which ultimately leads to an increase in customer loyalty,” Reddy added.

In the study, 75 per cent of those surveyed believe that machines can behave morally and thus make ‘good’ decisions based on empathetic considerations.

In addition, 76 per cent of respondents in India believe that when an organization uses AI to make relevant, appropriate, and valuable offers to their customers, it is an example of AI demonstrating empathy.

Organizations should adopt transparent and unbiased AI, which means their AI models can explain exactly why a decision was made, the study said.

By combining AI-based insights with proper AI governance, organizations can more safely adopt AI while driving better customer engagements, it added.

Business

IFC loan to increase Bajaj Finance’s lending to women led MSMEs

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World-Bank-headquarters

International Finance Corporation (IFC) part of the World Bank Group has proposed to loan up to $150 million to Bajaj Finance Ltd.

According to IFC, the proposed $150 million senior loan for up to five years to Bajaj Finance will enable the company to expand its lending to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) and women owned MSMEs.

Bajaj Finance will increase its lending to MSME segment to about $600 million.

Headquartered in Pune, Bajaj Finance part of the Bajaj Group is the third largest non-banking finance company (NBFC) in India with $4.9 billion equity base and $22.3 billion asset base as of December 31, 2020, IFC said.

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Samsung tops global smartphone market with 23% share in Q1 2021

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Samsung

Samsung defended its leading position in the global smartphone market in the first quarter of the year, shipping 77 million smartphones and capturing 23 per cent market share (a growth of over 32 per cent on-year), according to a new report.

Apple shipped 57 million units iPhones worldwide, capturing second place with a 17 per cent volume market share.

Xiaomi held third place in terms of volume of smartphones shipped for the second quarter in a row. It shipped 49 million smartphones globally and took a 15 per cent market share in Q1 2021, up from 10 per cent one year ago, according to latest research from Strategy Analytics.

The global smartphone shipments were 340 million units in Q1 2021, up over 24 per cent (on-year) representing the highest growth since 2015.

The smartphone market rebound was driven by the healthy demand of consumers with ageing devices and a phenomenal 5G push from Chinese vendors.

“Globally, the top five vendors combined took a 76 per cent market share in Q1 2021, up from 71 per cent one year ago. Chip shortages and supply side constraints did not have a significant impact in Q1 among the top 5 brands,” said Linda Sui, Senior Director, at Strategy Analytics.

Samsung’s newly launched more affordable A series 4G and 5G phones, and the earlier launched Galaxy S21 series combined drove solid performance in the quarter.

“The strong momentum behind the 5G iPhone 12 series continued across multiple markets,” said Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics.

Xiaomi maintained strong momentum in both India and China, and the expansion in Europe, Latin America and Africa region also started to bear fruit.

“OPPO (not including Realme and OnePlus) won 11 per cent market share and remained the fourth largest smartphone vendor in the first quarter, followed by vivo, which grew an impressive 85 per cent YOY in Q1 2021,”: informed senior analyst Yiwen Wu.

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Tamil Nadu hoteliers want ‘oxygen’ to breathe as night curfew ‘choking’ business

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night-curfew

With nearly 50 per cent of the business gone since the outbreak of coronavirus and the lockdown last year, the night curfew and ban on tourists visiting hill stations will further wipe out the restaurant business, said hoteliers in Tamil Nadu.

They also said the migrant labour going back to their homes is not a major problem as many of them who had left last year have not returned and further business has not improved.

“Normally business in vegetarian hotels pick up from 7.30 p.m. and in non-vegetarian outlets at 8 p.m. The night curfew between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. announced by the Tamil Nadu government from April 20 will hit the business hard. Already restaurants are near empty after 7.30 p.m,” R. Srinivasan, Secretary, Tamil Nadu Hotels Association told IANS.

With Covid-19 second wave hitting Tamil Nadu and increasing the number of active patients, the state government recently tightened the restrictions like night curfew, restaurants to operate with 50 per cent capacity, ban on tourists visiting hill stations and others.

“Already business is down by 50 per cent since last year Covid-19 lockdown. The ban on tourists visiting hill stations during the summer season sounds the death knell for the hoteliers there. The business done during the four months sustains them for the remaining part of the year,” M. Venkada Subbu, President told IANS.

Continuing further, Subbu said nearly 25 per cent restaurants on the highways and 10 per cent of the city outlets have shut down business since the first lockdown.

The highway hotels may see some brisk business as long distance business that usually run at night are now operated during the day due to night curfew.

The Federation of Hotel & Restaurant Associations of India (FH&RAI) had earlier written to the Tamil Nadu government stating the prevailing restrictions and work from home arrangements, restaurants have no significant business during the day time and the imposition of night curfews is tantamount to closure of business for the sector.

On the issue of migrant workers going back to their home state with the imposition of recent restrictions and impacting the operations Srinivasan said: “Those who had gone back last year have not returned. As the business came down hotels managed with remaining hands.”

The hotels trained their remaining staff on multitasking in order to be sustainable.

Subbu who runs the three star Darling Residency hotel in Vellore and several restaurants said the room bookings which went up to 30 per cent since October/November 2020 has come down to 10 per cent

Hotels across the categories in order keep their gas burners burning roped in Swiggy and Zomato online food aggregators last year.

In addition big star hotels had developed their own food ordering App and delivered their dishes at customer homes.

“The online food aggregators demand 20 per cent as commission which eats into our margins and is not remunerative. But in order to meet the fixed overheads outlets have signed up with them,” Subbu said.

Hoteliers — including four/five stars — said they were seeing slight improvement in their business since November 2020 with room occupancy going up to about 30 per cent prior to the recent restrictions.

The room booking window which used to be several days prior to 2020 lockdown came down to 36 hours and now it is 24 hours, hoteliers told IANS.

“We are continuing with our arrangement with players like Swiggy and Zomato. We also have our own App. This enabled us to serve many new customers with our specialised offerings,” Zubin Songadwala, General Manager, ITC Grand Chola and Area Manager, ITC Hotels, South.

“We will continue our association with Swiggy and Zomato. The one issue is that the per bill size has come down as compared to the size of dine-in bill,” T. Nataraajan, CEO, GRT Hotels & Resorts had told IANS.

According to Songadwala, the bill size will be higher at restaurants as in most of the cases the corporate guests would go for beverages.

“In the case of home deliveries, the orders will be mainly for food,” Songadwala remarked.

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