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AI at the Crossroads of Industry and Academia

Published: March 25, 2022 | By: John Englund

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is upping the technological ante that was introduced by automation a generation ago. AI and machine learning (ML) are rapidly transforming industry, and academic institutions are working in tandem to lay the theoretical groundwork for their advancement.

Akul Dewan, an AI Architect at Intradiem, wove the two strands together in his March 22 presentation at The Erdös Institute.

Founded in 2017 at the Ohio State University Department of Mathematics, The Erdös Institute is a multi-university organization committed to helping PhD students identify job opportunities in industry.

Akul Dewan was invited to speak at the Institute’s weekly seminar series, in which industry professionals discuss their career trajectories, their day-to-day work, and their companies’ mission and vision before an audience of PhD candidates from Erdös Institute member universities.

AI as Industry Transformer and Career Path

Intradiem’s AI-powered Intelligent Automation technology is transforming customer service operations through its ability to process massive quantities of time-sensitive data in real time and take immediate, automated actions based on user-defined business rules and triggered by actual contact center conditions. Intradiem is focused on expanding its expertise in AI/ML, and future experts are currently sharpening their skills at places like The Erdös Institute and its member universities.

Today, AI is a hot topic both in academia and in industry, including customer service. Each day, contact centers confront real-time demand for service in a context of unpredictably shifting circumstances; but current technologies are only able to process static, historical data.

Real-time capabilities would transform this gap, and AI technologies could help organizations become better at predicting flows and responding to them proactively rather than retroactively. The potential improvement to customer service—for those who need it and for those who provide it—is enormous.

Akul Dewan’s Erdös presentation provided an overview of technologies used by AI solutions in the software industry, and he explained the technologies that are used in Intradiem’s AI platform. These technologies are leveraged in “productionizing” machine learning models—by which a model is transformed to a scalable, observable, mission critical, production-ready software solution.

Akul shared Intradiem’s views on the importance of AI as a predictive solution to the challenges faced by contact centers—including how to transform massive flows of data into actionable intelligence that can be used in real time to improve the efficiency of tracking and distributing incoming calls, optimizing agent scheduling and professional development, and providing connections to keep agents engaged, satisfied, and on the job.

Marrying Theory and Practice

The Erdös Institute seminars provide technology job candidates with critical insights into the theoretical and practical sides of technology. Academics relies on idealized assumptions like clean and readily available data; but for industry, data is usually not clean and always requires processing.

Akul Dewan provided an industry perspective, highlighting software companies’ need to make Artificial Intelligence explainable. Financial resources are at stake, and companies like Intradiem must focus on creating AI/ML models that can explain to their customers why a technology undertook one particular action in a given circumstance, rather than a different action.

Erdös Institute seminar attendees enrich their career prospects by gaining valuable perspective on how technology is approached in industry and academia. Ultimately, companies like Intradiem will benefit from newly minted software engineers who bring a deeper understanding of technology to their careers right from the start.

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