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Southeast Asia detects mutated virus strain sweeping the world

The Japan Times

Southeast Asia is facing a strain of the new coronavirus that the Philippines, which faces the region's largest outbreak, is studying to see whether the mutation makes it more infectious. The strain, earlier seen in other parts of the world and called D614G, was found in a Malaysian cluster of 45 cases that started from someone who returned from India and breached his 14-day home quarantine. The Philippines detected the strain among random COVID-19 samples in the largest city of its capital region. The mutation "is said to have a higher possibility of transmission or infectiousness, but we still don't have enough solid evidence to say that that will happen," Philippines' Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual briefing Monday. The strain has been found in many other countries and has become the predominant variant in Europe and the U.S., with the World Health Organization saying there's no evidence the strain leads to a more severe disease.


The Impact Of AI On Call Centres

#artificialintelligence

The pandemic is a severe stress test for the business continuity plans of global corporations. The operators of call centres are playing an important role in meeting that challenge, and it has not been easy. In normal times, if an earthquake hits Bangalore, you can switch capacity to your call centre in Manila. But what do you do when all the call centres around the world that serve your customers are hit – all at the same time? The big outsourcing call centre companies which serve corporate giants have hundreds of thousands of employees, and many of these people are working from home now.


When is AI not AI?

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Earlier this week, Forbes published a piece on ScaleFactor, a startup using AI to automate accounting, which shut down after raising $100m. Here's the heart of the issue covered in the story: "Instead of [AI] producing financial statements, dozens of accountants did most of it manually from ScaleFactor's Austin headquarters or from an outsourcing office in the Philippines, according to former employees. Some customers say they received books filled with errors, and were forced to re-hire accountants, or clean up the mess themselves." The piece triggered additional reactions from the press around the general theme of "AI and snake oil". Now, this is whole "AI vs humans" topic is really interesting to me, as I've spent tons of times over the last few years with AI companies, and have seen those dynamics at play.


Amazon makes Contact Lens generally available

#artificialintelligence

Last December during its re:Invent 2019 conference in Las Vegas, Amazon unveiled Contact Lens, a virtual call center product for Amazon Connect that transcribes calls while simultaneously assessing them. After a monthslong preview, Contact Lens today launched in general availability in the US East (N. Virginia), US West (Oregon), EU (Frankfurt), EU (London), Asia Pacific (Singapore), Asia Pacific (Sydney), and Asia Pacific (Tokyo) Amazon Web Services (AWS) regions, with rollouts in additional regions to come later this year. As customer representatives are increasingly ordered to work from home in Manila, the U.S., and elsewhere, companies including John Hancock, Capital One, Intuit, GE, Square, Fujitsu, and Dow Jones are turning to AI solutions like Contact Lens to bridge gaps in service. The solutions aren't perfect -- there's always going to be a need for human teams, even where chatbots are deployed -- but COVID-19 has accelerated the need for AI-powered contact center messaging.


Asean firms stick to familiar security tools, with growing interest in newer options

ZDNet

When it comes to cybersecurity, most enterprises in Asean are opting to stick with the tried-and-tested and familiar. There is, however, growing interest in comparatively newer tools such as software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) security systems. Antivirus or antimalware tools remained the most popular cybersecurity choice for enterprises in the region, with 71% deploying these applications, revealed a Palo Alto Networks study released Thursday. The online survey was conducted in February 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, before safe distancing measures were rolled out, with 100 respondents each from four Asean markets: Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines. With cybercriminals taking less and less time to break into corporate systems, enterprises will have to tap artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to bolster their ability to defend against attacks and beef up their network resilience.


Fortinet Introduces self-learning Artificial Intelligence Appliance for Sub-Second Threat Detection – The Manila Times

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Fortinet (NASDAQ: FTNT), a global leader in broad, integrated and automated cybersecurity solutions, announced FortiAI, a first-of-its-kind on-premises appliance that leverages self-learning Deep Neural Networks (DNN) to speed threat remediation and handle time consuming, manual security analyst tasks. FortiAI's Virtual Security Analyst embeds one of the industry's most mature cybersecurity artificial intelligence – developed by Fortinet's FortiGuard Labs – directly into an organization's network to deliver sub-second detection of advanced threats. While traditional cyber threats continue, sophistication of advanced attacks – often enabled by artificial intelligence, machine learning and open source communities – are increasing. As a result, organizations and their defenses are challenged to keep pace with threat evolution. Millions of new applications, growing cloud adoption and the increase in connected devices are creating billions of edges that security teams need to properly protect and manage.


Coronavirus is prompting companies to adopt AI call center solutions

#artificialintelligence

As the continued spread of COVID-19 disrupts workplaces and travel plans around the globe, customer service centers are experiencing an unprecedented uptick in overall call volume. This week, travelers looking to modify their itineraries with Canadian airline WestJet experienced waits in excess of 10 hours. Banks and credit card companies, including Capital One, are seeing longer-than-average hold times, with some customers reporting disconnections. And Google warned Google Store customers to expect "longer than usual" wait times as a result of precautionary health measures that have the company operating with a limited team. As customer representatives are increasingly ordered to work from home in Manila, the U.S., and elsewhere, some companies are turning to AI to bridge the resulting gaps in service.


Coronavirus is prompting companies to adopt AI call center solutions

#artificialintelligence

As the continued spread of COVID-19 disrupts workplaces and travel plans around the globe, customer service centers are experiencing an unprecedented uptick in overall call volume. This week, travelers looking to modify their itineraries with Canadian airline WestJet experienced waits in excess of 10 hours. Banks and credit card companies, including Capital One, are seeing longer-than-average hold times, with some customers reporting disconnections. And Google warned Google Store customers to expect "longer than usual" wait times as a result of precautionary health measures that have the company operating with a limited team. As customer representatives are increasingly ordered to work from home in Manila, the U.S., and elsewhere, some companies are turning to AI to bridge the resulting gaps in service.


Insurance firm rolls out AI-enabled app for policy and non-policy holders – Newsbytes Philippines

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Life insurer Pru Life UK has officially released its mobile app "Pulse" which uses the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) for health management and is available to all users -- policy holders or not. The Pulse app will take advantage of Pru Life UK's large library of AI-backed and real-time updated symptom checker and will have a paid option for online consultation. "Through AI-powered features such as a symptom checker that acts as a digital-first gateway for users when seeking care and a health assessment tool that gives users insight into their long-term disease risks, Pulse enables its users to get a better picture of their health," said Pru Life UK president and CEO Antonio De Rosas. To make the app more responsive, De Rosas said the company plans to link it with wearable devices in future rollout of updates. The app's Symptom Checker and Healthcheck tools are enabled through technology-based health service provider Babylon, known for subscription remote consultations with healthcare professionals through video or text.


Jumio and CIMB Bank PH Team up to Provide Filipinos Unmatched Digital Onboarding Experience With AI-Powered Identity Verification Technology

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SINGAPORE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jumio, the leading provider of AI-powered end-to-end identity verification and authentication solutions, has partnered with CIMB Bank Philippines' all-digital bank to provide a simple, hassle-free and convenient digital onboarding solution to Filipinos. In its first full year of formal operations, CIMB Bank Philippines signed in almost 2 million Filipinos via the CIMB Bank PH digital platform, 30% of which are first-time bankers, making CIMB Bank PH the fastest-growing all-digital bank in the Philippines and ASEAN, and a winner of eight banking awards in 2019. Driving financial inclusion, the all-digital, mobile-first bank offers the best-in-market savings interest rates of 4% with zero transaction fees and minimum balance, and seamless account opening and personal loan applications. CIMB Bank PH's mobile app integrates Jumio's AI-driven identity verification technology to provide a safe, secure and fast digital onboarding experience -- what used to take 15 minutes with a video KYC process now takes less than five minutes, resulting in an increase in conversions and happier customers. Jumio's identity verification solution uses machine learning, AI, certified liveness detection and face-based biometrics to ensure the person behind a digital transaction is who they say they are by matching a user's live selfie with the photo shown on their government-issued ID. "Our partnership with Jumio has been integral in achieving our milestones so far as an all-digital bank in the Philippines to deliver a safe and secure banking experience," said Vijay Manoharan, CIMB Bank PH CEO.