Keynote: IBM Chief Uses Case Studies to Explain Deep Data

IBM chair, CEO and president Ginni Rometty made her second CES keynote appearance and focused on artificial intelligence, big data, quantum computing, and closing the skills gap in computer science in a series of onstage conversations. Rometty drew a distinction between big data and deep data as she explained that there is a tremendous amount of information collected for specific analysis, but there is a wealth of analytical and predictive opportunity yet available. As an example, she cited analysis of fingernails as a means of predicting health issues or weather data to better forecast mid-air turbulence. Continue reading Keynote: IBM Chief Uses Case Studies to Explain Deep Data

PwC Research Reveals Media Execs’ Reluctance to Adopt AI

Media companies continue to adopt a variety of digital technologies, but have proven to be more reluctant than other industry sectors to embrace artificial intelligence. That’s the finding of PwC, which surveyed 1,000 U.S. executives for its “2019 AI Predictions” report. Covering many industry sectors, the research revealed that 20 percent of these companies plan to deploy AI next year. But media companies are still in the very early stages of enabling AI, and only a few with an AI business case. Continue reading PwC Research Reveals Media Execs’ Reluctance to Adopt AI

Retailers Adopt Software, Chatbots to Hone Customer Service

To battle Amazon’s ubiquity and customers’ fickle loyalty, some retailers are testing the new Customer 360 software from Salesforce.com and Freshworks to improve their customer service. The software lets retailers build shopper profiles similar to Facebook to better understand what each customer wants and increase the odds that he or she will become more loyal to the retailer in question. Other strategies retailers are employing are the use of improved chatbots and better customer support training. Continue reading Retailers Adopt Software, Chatbots to Hone Customer Service

Walmart to Expand VR-Based Employee Training to All Stores

Walmart is widening its VR-based employee-training program in the U.S., shipping four Oculus Go VR headsets to each Walmart Supercenter and two to smaller Neighborhood Market stores starting in October, for a total of 17,000 Oculus Go headsets by the end of 2018. The retailer first tried out VR for employee training a year ago, and is expanding it due to employee feedback that it boosted their confidence and familiarity with technology. VR software company STRIVR has created 45 activity-based modules for the employees. Continue reading Walmart to Expand VR-Based Employee Training to All Stores

Experian Uses Machine Learning for Predictive Maintenance

The credit reporting company Experian is adopting machine learning to get a jump on identifying problems and predicting application behavior more reliably. Machine learning tools can help such Experian tools as ServiceNow, which monitors infrastructure performance and spots unusual, potentially threatening behavior. With machine learning, Experian hopes to head off and/or fix problems that could impact, and potentially lose, customers. The company also now mandates that monitoring be built into all new applications. Continue reading Experian Uses Machine Learning for Predictive Maintenance

AMC Debuts Subscription Service That Will Rival MoviePass

AMC Entertainment just announced AMC Stubs A-List, a subscription service that will allow customers to watch up to three movies a week at any AMC theaters in the U.S. for $19.95 per month. AMC Stubs A-List offers features not available with the offering of its rival MoviePass, including the ability to book tickets days in advance, to see 3D or IMAX movies at no extra cost and to book tickets in an app without a special debit card. In contrast, MoviePass costs $9.95 per month, works at 91 percent of U.S. theaters and can be used once a day. Continue reading AMC Debuts Subscription Service That Will Rival MoviePass

New Version of Alexa Coming to Hotels With Echo Speakers

Amazon introduced Alexa for Hospitality this week, a new version of its virtual assistant designed specifically for the hotel industry. Alexa for Hospitality will initially be offered on an invitation basis to locations such as hotels and vacation rentals. The voice assistant will be customized per hospitality location so that customers can interact with an Echo smart speaker to easily adjust room controls, order room service, request housekeeping, ask location-specific questions, contact the front desk, check out, and more. Continue reading New Version of Alexa Coming to Hotels With Echo Speakers

Facebook Monitors Advertisers via Customer Feedback Tool

Facebook is introducing a new feature that will allow users to leave feedback after buying products from advertisers on its site, with the goal of cracking down on businesses that sell shoddy goods or don’t deliver them promptly. In addition to this new tool, Facebook is also warning e-commerce companies that get large numbers of complaints, to allow them to improve. If the companies do not clean up their act, says Facebook, it will constrain the number of ads they deliver and could ban them. Continue reading Facebook Monitors Advertisers via Customer Feedback Tool

Microsoft Is Acquiring GitHub in Stock Deal Worth $7.5 Billion

Microsoft confirmed that it is purchasing GitHub in an all-stock deal valued at $7.5 billion. Acquiring GitHub — a service used by startups and major names such as Microsoft and Google to store code and collaborate, and an essential tool for 28 million developers — is a logical move for the Washington-based tech giant. With CEO Satya Nadella at the helm, Microsoft has been increasing its efforts to serve software developers through cloud services. With GitHub in its arsenal, “Microsoft would be rolling up a crucial part of the ecosystem,” notes Recode. Continue reading Microsoft Is Acquiring GitHub in Stock Deal Worth $7.5 Billion

MoviePass Revives Unlimited Plan, Will Offer IMAX, 3D Movies

MoviePass just brought back its unlimited subscription plan launched last August that allows users to see a movie a day for $10 per month. Better yet, chief executive Mitch Lowe declared the company is “absolutely committed” to keeping the plan in place. Two weeks ago, MoviePass limited subscribers to four movies per month. The company has previously experimented with removing subscriber access to some AMC Theatres in major cities and even specific movies, all of which were temporary moves. Continue reading MoviePass Revives Unlimited Plan, Will Offer IMAX, 3D Movies

Allstate’s Digital Assistant ‘Amelia’ Now Helps Call Center Reps

Allstate’s AI-powered chatbot, Amelia, continues helping the insurance company’s call center employees solve customer service issues efficiently. Since her original deployment in September, she’s already helped these employees with more than 3 million client conversations, answering questions through an instant messaging platform on employee desktops. In January alone, Amelia helped on 250,000 calls. Allstate and other insurance companies are turning to chatbots to stay ahead of insurance-focused startups looking to compete.

Continue reading Allstate’s Digital Assistant ‘Amelia’ Now Helps Call Center Reps

Sprint Working On AI Software to Assist Its Call Center Reps

Sprint is currently developing AI-powered software to help call center representatives better handle customer service. Sprint plans to use data related to customer calls to create “interaction assistants” that provide employees with best next steps. This effort is part of the company’s digital transformation project, which involves a partnership with Adobe Systems Inc. “Our focus has been about evolving and really becoming a digital company across all facets,” said Sprint CIO Scott Rice. Data has “become core across all our infrastructure and we really are changing our mindset.”

Continue reading Sprint Working On AI Software to Assist Its Call Center Reps

Apple Includes New Business Chat Feature in Next iOS Update

Apple is preparing for a major iPhone operating system update, iOS 11.3, and it will include some important new features. Chief among those is Business Chat, which lets users communicate directly with businesses via the iMessage app. At launch, Business Chat will allow communications with a select group of companies including Wells Fargo, Lowe’s, Hilton and Discover. Also new with iOS 11.3 is version 1.5 of the company’s virtual reality developers’ kit ARKit, four Animoji, and new features that display battery health. Continue reading Apple Includes New Business Chat Feature in Next iOS Update

Amazon Go Closer to Public Launch, Amazon Opens Pop-Ups

Amazon Go, an experimental convenience store in Seattle that relies on a mobile app instead of human cashiers, is moving into its next stage prior to a public opening. Amazon Go was originally slated to open early this year, but technical glitches led Amazon to postpone the launch. The technology is improving, and Amazon has shifted hiring from engineers and research scientists to construction managers and marketers. Shoppers will scan their smartphones upon entering; cameras and sensors will track the items removed. Continue reading Amazon Go Closer to Public Launch, Amazon Opens Pop-Ups

Netflix Makes Major Commitment to Canada With New Studio

Netflix is planning to invest a minimum of 500 million Canadian dollars ($400.8 million U.S.) over the next five years to build a studio in Canada, revealed Canada’s Heritage Minister, Melanie Joly. The studio will create original Canadian productions, some of which will be French-language, in recognition of Canada’s status as a bilingual country. Canada, which was the first foreign country where Netflix launched, is also home to the third most global subscribers. The Canadian studio will be Netflix’s first global content outpost. Continue reading Netflix Makes Major Commitment to Canada With New Studio

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