BLOGS & OPINION

Information amalgamation is the next killer application

The amalgamation of personal information from various sources, for intelligent services will be the next big thing

We live in a truly connected world where apps and services are gathering information about us. There are numerous possibilities when all that information comes together and provides beneficial outcomes. I see more of this happening in the next few years, and artificial intelligence enabled apps will play a key role in this.

A colleague of mine had recently booked an OLA cab and then upgraded to a  Prime cab. To keep herself entertained during the long journey, she switched on the entertainment system and selected the music channel. She was surprised to see her favourite albums, songs and artists on the screen. How could that be? Pure coincidence? She then remembered that she was also using the Gaana.com music app on her phone and had created playlists. Could it be that the Ganna.com app was sharing her playlist with the OLA app on her phone, which was then relaying it to the entertainment system in the can she was now travelling in? She wondered if these companies have some partnership for this.

Well, I could not verify if that was true, and just assumed it is a coincidence. But this kind of amalgamation is possible today.

Here’s another example.

Last week I met Neeraj Dotel, Managing Director, SAP Concur India. Neeraj was telling me why corporate executives dread travel and road trips and it has nothing to do with the long hours of travel or red-eye flights.  Neeraj said the real dread is filling up forms to reconcile their travel expenses. By the time one gets down to doing this task, the thermal print-outs have faded, and one does not remember how much was spent on fuel, food, and cab services. So the claims are either under-reported, inflated or forfeited.

Now SAP has a Travel and Expense (T&E) app called Concur (acquired in 2014). Concur is integrated with all the radio taxi services and many of the global hotel chains. It is also integrated with the revenue & taxation authorities’ systems in various countries. What does that mean for a consumer?

According to Neeraj, the moment you check out from a hotel or book an OLA cab, the transaction is captured by the Concur app on your phone and immediately sent to the Concur application in your organization. That means administrators will immediately have a record of the transaction. If the organization has a policy of paperless reconciliation for T&E, that means the employee does not have to file a claim later and submit bills! What a convenience.

The point to note here is that there is the amalgamation of information and it is an immense benefit for both the organization and its employees.

Look our for my story on SAP Concur on this site later this week.

We have also experienced this kind of amalgamation of other apps and services such as Google Trips, Tipit, TripCase etc. Even for personal organisers and expense management apps.

And then there are AI-enabled personal assistants. Remember Jarvis in the Iron Man movies? In reality, we have Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri. These personal assistants are constantly gathering information on your spending habits, the services you consume, your online purchases, travel etc. They scan through your email and calendars and pick up your itinerary — and then put all that information together to make suggestions and create reminders.

I see AI and machine learning playing a bigger role in this in the years to come. Its a good thing for us all, as it will make our lives simple. We’ll have process information that can make business processes agile.

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Brian Pereira

Brian Pereira has over two decades of technology journalism experience. He is the former Editor of CHIP and InformationWeek magazines in India. During his successful journalism career, he served India's leading newspapers: The Times of India and Indian Express Newspapers. Brian is also an Aviation enthusiast and gadget geek. He likes all things retro (80s). Write to Brian at: brian9p@gmail.com Twitter: @brian9p Linkedin: https://in.linkedin.com/in/pereirabrian

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