Driving Business Results with AI: A Keynote Presentation and Panel Discussion, led by Telarus CRO Dan Foster

By Alex Passett, Editor  |  February 22, 2024

Last week’s ITEXPO 2024 was, to put it one way, a massive bowl of tech jambalaya cooked over three days in the Sunshine State.

A curious metaphor to start with, I recognize, but hear me out:

From February 13-15 at the Broward County Convention Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, ITEXPO (News - Alert) attendees and sponsors alike partook in a savory overall experience. The ingredients that made this expo’s “tech jambalaya” recipe so enjoyable included a hearty helping of engaging conference sessions, a robust exhibit hall simmering with what seemed like hundreds of exhibitors as we walked the aisles, sprinkles of one-on-one networking opportunities for business leaders throughout the week, and – rounding out this metaphor that makes me sound like Jim Carrey describing the big cookie from Bruce Almighty – an enormous helping of conversation surrounding artificial intelligence; where we’ve been with it, and where we’re headed next.

One of ITEXPO’s keynote presentations (that segued into a relevant panel discussion) was led by Dan Foster (News - Alert), Chief Revenue Officer of Telarus, a Diamond sponsor of the show.

“When we think about AI,” Foster began, “what are its best use cases and outcomes, and how do we consistently generate revenue with it?”

As Foster then pointed out, AI has come a long way from Google’s (News - Alert) Deep Mind Institute teaching it to play chess in 2017. (Though, notably, it played 44 million games against itself and went on to best every possible human move.) Five years later, news articles out the wazoo covered the rise of ChatGPT and how investing in next-gen AI models would change the world.

“Think about it,” Foster continued. “We’ve got thousands tech advisors at this event alone asking AI’s best-possible use cases. Well, here are the facts.”

Foster transitioned to a graphic that displayed the top ways business owners are using AI, according to a recent Forbes survey. The breakdown looked like this:

  • 56% for customer service enhancements
  • 51% for cybersecurity and fraud management
  • 47% for digital personal assistant support
  • 40% for automated inventory management
  • 35% for content production purposes
  • 30% for accounting and fintech applications
  • 30% for supply chain operations
  • 26% for recruitment and talent sourcing

And the list went on. (e.g. with IoMT, or the Internet of Medical Things, industrial applications, for educators, etc.)

“It’s a hot topic, without question,” Foster said. “AI barrages our news feeds. But when we narrow it down and think about the tools out there, we should think about examples like AI trimming cloud costs, combatting bad actors, and changing entire customer experience journeys in more ways than the chatbots of old have. We’re in the midst of palpable industry change, everyone.”

This segued into Foster calling up the panel of industry specialists to discuss further:

  • Rob Stephenson, Chief Executive Officer, Thrive
  • Raghu Ravinutala, Chief Executive Officer, Yellow.ai
  • Anant Singh, Vice President of Sales, Sanas
  • Skyler Stewart, Director of AIoT Sales, EPIC iO

Foster proceeded to ask the panelists about their unique takes on AI today.

Below are quotes from each:

  • Ravinutala: “We saw cases like that of Microsoft (News - Alert) Teams and WhatsApp spending between $500 billion up to $1 trillion on their respective customer support operations. They’re not doing this because they discovered some AI magic wand that we haven’t; what they have done is taken hold of never-before-seen and totally unprecedented opportunities on both the customer side and business side of things. The best innovators right now are taking the popularity and applicability of AI and making it much more accessible; that’s key. AI is so highly suited to make a difference, and presenting it via interfaces that everyone can relate to and use is key, as well. That’s what we’re doing at Yellow.ai, in fact. We’re solving enterprise-level issues with spend through automation, and we’re reinforcing customer support operations.”
  • Stephenson: “AI helps us fight a seemingly unending war against the bad guys. We regularly take on clients that are thrown up against the wall and can’t keep up with cyber threats. It’s an onslaught, for them. So, we use AI to tool through every problem, to make better in-time decisions, and to improve less-than-ideal security measures and make them best-in-class, instead. AI is a double-edged sword to wield carefully. Or, to put it another way, it’s a double-edged coin. It’s a token that opens doors for both sides, and we have to be strategic in which doors we unlock first, and how.”
  • Singh: “Let’s represent this through impact. As of 2023, roughly 13.5 billion phone calls were made every single day, amounting to trillions over time. Most of these, as we know, were centered in India. So, how can we ensure we hire enough talent to keep up with stats like that? Well, with how we tap into AI to find the right talent. We went from 56% of applicants not getting hired down to just 12%, and the rest were the right talent brought on at the right times. That’s the impact. We make sure agents are as prepared for their calls as the customers are diligently taken care of during the calls, too.”
  • Stewart: “I agree when it comes to impacts. We once entered a client’s building, and half of it had recently been burned down due to faulty batteries they’d been using. So, we started there and created an AI model to detect fires more quickly while things like the batteries being used were safely swapped out. We created thermal cameras that use AI to detect base heat levels before flames begin to spark. You have to start somewhere to make impacts, is what I[‘d say. Start with simple challenges, and build up. That’s the case for many parts of life, and it is with AI, too.”

Learn more about the AI-packed goings-on of this year’s expo here.

Edited by Alex Passett
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