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HOW AI AND AR ARE CHANGING THE FACE OF THE ECOMMERCE INDUSTRY

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Thomas Kasemir, CPO of Productsup

 

The pandemic has accelerated the shift towards a more integrated and intelligent shopping experience. More than before, retailers are leveraging new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR) to enhance consumer experiences, broaden their customer bases, and drive sales.

It’s been a tough twelve months for some of the UK highstreet’s biggest names but utilising new technology can provide a platform for economic recovery and growth for retailers. Just recently, fashion giant H&M set out its intention to become a leader in applying AI techniques to the fashion retail sector, while footwear firm Hotter Shoes has baked AR into its mobile app, citing that 90% of its new customers are originating from digital channels.

With a rising number of ecommerce endpoints, such as traditional webshops, marketplaces, and social media, machine learning is going to be key for retailers in helping to automate and scale their product integrations and avoid costly human errors. As the UK approaches the point of relaxation from all COVID restrictions, these types of technological innovations will be instrumental in helping retailers to recalibrate and cater to shifting consumer expectations.

 

AI can help retailers to achieve competitive KPIs

Automated ecommerce ranges from data formats and APIs to automatic category matching, data format verification, mapping between different classification systems, and the intelligent grouping of error messages to improve product data and business outcomes. In the future, AI-based rich media creation will change the way channel-specific marketing campaigns and product data feeds are created, almost in real-time, for every region and target group a retailer trades in. AI can also assist with the analysis of business outcomes, generating actionable insights for marketers to measure and improve their KPIs.

As AI will help vendors automate their product offerings, they will not only be able to achieve their KPIs, but they will also be able to improve the experience of their customers as data will be kept constantly up-to-date and accurately reflect stock levels. Clearly, artificial intelligence in the ecommerce space is necessary to engage with customers in a more intuitive and meaningful way, but it will also bear fruits for corporate KPIs and goal setting; a win-win.

 

What role does AR play in the modern-day shopping experience?

Key industry players, such as IKEA, have been making use of AR for consumers for some time, allowing them to visualise a specific piece of furniture in their homes. While this is a fantastic innovation, this is just the start of what AI/AR can offer the ecommerce space.

Generally, while the modern-day shopping experience is shifting more towards social media platforms, brands need to hone in on their omnichannel strategies. Retailers must now engage with users across multiple platforms with authentic and channel-specific messages in order to remain relevant in their respective markets.

The next elements to master are immersive shopping, virtual reality and real-time conversational shopping events on social media. As it stands, no specific apps are doing this, but this technology will be gradually integrated into all social media apps. Just like in-app picture and video content today, soon real 3D and augmented/virtual media will be just another facet of a robust and far-reaching content offering.

Businesses should take note of these innovations and prepare themselves accordingly, as current ecommerce integrations suggest that more users are using social media to purchase items. Add to this consumers’ incessant desire for speedy delivery and efficient ordering systems, now is the best time to make use of AI/AR to meet these high demands.

 

What the physical high-street will look like as a result of the AI/AR shift

The pandemic accelerated commerce trends and technological advancements within the retail sector, but it also made all the shortcomings and challenges within the industry even more visible. AR and AI will only help to boost the relationship between in-store and online shopping, enhancing the user experience through accurate product listings, as well as providing speedy delivery or the option to pick up a product in-store on the same day.

As for the high-street, we can expect to see a much more digitally-driven in-store experience that resonates with both the older generation that prefers physical stores and the younger one whose retail experience is primarily online.

However, AR and AI are only as good as the data they work with, so companies looking to leverage them should ensure data excellence across the board and a reliable tech stack before anything else.

 

Technology

AI-Powered Fraud Prevention for Digital Transactions

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By Martin Rehak, CEO of Resistant AI

Fraud is on the rise, thanks to the rapid escalation of digital channels in response to the unprecedented challenges created by COVID-19. However, this rapid shift to digital-first operations and transactions has come at a price for banks and financial services organisations.  Which is why financial services organisations are increasingly turning to AI to intelligently address an ever-evolving and ever-smarter attack landscape.

If nothing else, COVID-19 helped shine a spotlight on the vulnerabilities of today’s digital and mobile customer platforms that are capable of executing rapid and instant payment transactions, leaving little time to undertake customer authentication or transaction verification. Similarly, the difficulties of Know Your Customer (KYC) and customer onboarding in the digital era is exposing financial services organisations – and the customers they serve – to a significantly increased risk of cyber-crime and financial fraud.

According to a recent UK Finance report, £754 million was stolen from bank customers in 2021 as scammers industrialised the use of authorised push payment fraud to trick individuals and businesses into sending money to bank accounts operated by criminals posing as genuine customers.

The challenge created by automation

The rapid expansion and automation of financial services to minimise friction for customers has created new challenges with regard to verification and risk management policies and practices. Evaluating if a digital interaction is authentic now depends on referencing a huge amount of data from multiple sources – everything from geolocation and session behaviours to data from merchants, bureaus, and customer profiles.

Added to which, today’s financial fraudsters are becoming expert at targeting these complex digital environments and are using innovations such as block chain and instant payments against banks and their customers.

Staying ahead of criminals is an imperative. Especially as directives like Open Banking open up third party access to customer data that further heightens the vulnerability of finance firms to fraudulent activities if this process is not appropriately monitored and managed.

Financial organisations spend vast amounts of money protecting their information and IT, yet the automated processes that deliver access to money are often the least protected. Traditional approaches to fraud prevention that rely primarily on human intervention have proved inadequate for preventing the activities of today’s sophisticated digital criminals, who are capable of exploiting vulnerable automated systems at scale.

In response, the finance sector needs to enable real-time identity forensics that brings together state-of-the-art document and customer behaviour evaluation to uncover synthetic identities, account takeover attempts, money laundering and other emerging types of fraud plaguing financial services.

Strengthening onboarding and KYC processes

Attaining a deep understanding of the end-to-end customer journey is now mission critical for combating fraud and financial crime. Onboarding and KYC represent key cornerstones in the mission to prevent scams. However, the shift to digital documents for ID authentication, combined with the relaxation of onboarding verification to expedite customer conversions during the crisis, have created significant opportunities for fraud.

In the onboarding process, identify validation is the first step to affirm an applicant actually exists. Next comes verification, which links that person to the information they provided in the validation stage. In many automated workflows there are risks from forged or manipulated documents that support the customer journey in online lending, trading, insurance, financing, factoring and payments.

Typically, 17% of bank statements used for lending applications or KYC purposes have been tampered with and 11% of UK payslips submitted as part of digital loan applications have been altered or are forged. Similarly, 15% of company registration certificates submitted worldwide when opening a bank account are fakes and 9% of utility bills submitted as proof of address are forged.

By protecting automated processes that use unauthorised documents from third parties, institutions can gain certainty that all digital documents are genuine. Similarly, continually assessing transactions will instantly alert teams to potentially fraudulent activities. These anomalies encompass behavioural, device characteristics, unusual switching between accounts and more.

Providing an intelligent shield for automated financial systems, AI powered fraud prevention delivers a convenient customer onboarding experience while limiting the generation of false alarms – ensuring that fraud and cyber analysts need only investigate genuine priority alerts.

Advanced fraud insights

Today’s AI-powered real-time identity forensics are capable of detecting advanced fraud and manipulation and are adept at joining the dots to uncover previously unidentified vulnerabilities and gaps in third-party systems, so that future potential exploitations can be deterred.

With financial criminals continuing to up their game, banks and finance organisations are leveraging AI technologies to strengthen the validation, verification and transactional processes that deliver enhanced security without compromising the customer journey or experience. With the right financial automation oversight technology in place, they’re better positioned to predict, detect and deter criminal adversaries and stay one step ahead of evolving new risks on the horizon.

 

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SMART WEARABLES IN HEALTH TECHNOLOGY

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Gavin Bashar, UK managing director at Tunstall Healthcare, discusses smart wearables in health and social care, the benefits, and what the future holds.

For many years, technology has been integrated into every sector in the economy, from banking to shopping, to enhance the experience of customers.

However, health and social care services have fallen behind in terms of technology adoption and innovation, for reasons including fragmented structures, limited resources, and reluctance to change.

Yet person-centred technology has the power to transform lives, not only enabling the ongoing delivery of support services to vulnerable people, but reshaping the health and social care sector as a whole.

Technology-enabled health and care is the service of the future and the ongoing and unprecedented rapid acceleration in the adoption of care and health technology has demonstrated the numerous benefits in practice.

 

Why wearable technology?

Wearable technology enriches the lives of a range of cohorts, including people living with long term conditions such as dementia, and connects vulnerable individuals to key stakeholders such as clinicians and family members.

The better application of technology and wearable devices can deliver significant benefits including improved patient outcomes and service-user experiences, a reduction in the strain on staff and carers, and potential cost savings or avoidance.

Wearable devices and the systems they’re linked to use wireless and digital technology to enable support services to be efficient, flexible, responsive, and tailored to the individual. The unobtrusive devices also ensure that care delivery is discreet and won’t interrupt the daily life of service users.

Proactive healthcare is also easier thanks to wearable technology. Service users become much more engaged with their own health and have greater opportunity to develop a proactive approach to their health monitoring, rather than reacting. Technology can be used to enable intervention at an early stage by identifying irregularities before they become more significant health or care issues which require expensive care and treatment.

There is significant evidence that wearable technology offers users greater choice in terms of the care they receive and prevents incidents in the first place, by recognising an emergency as soon as it occurs. Community alarms and telecare services in particular are effective methods of signposting to clinicians and additional services when a user requires care, and this has been particularly important during the pandemic.

 

Wearables in a home and residential care setting

When providers are presented with unique opportunities to drive the adoption of digital health solutions such as wearables, there must be a focus on designing holistic services which fit seamlessly into the user’s life, work with clinical practices, and ensure any data that is collected is stored securely.

There is a huge range of wearable technology and devices available which perform a number of functions and can therefore be tailored to suit the needs of an individual and their stakeholders, such as carers and clinicians.

Small, discreet pendants available on the market can raise alarm calls in emergencies, and protect users living independently at home or in group living environments. Features can include integrated alarm buttons, LEDs for visual reassurance that a button has been pressed, easy to wear options, and auto low battery monitoring and alerts.

Falls are the main reason that older people are taken to hospital and unaddressed fall hazards in the home are estimated to cost the NHS over £430 million1. Smart wearables use advanced technology to allow users to raise an alarm from anywhere in their home or care setting if they are in difficulty. Some devices can also automatically raise an alert if a fall is detected.

This technology offers confidence to individuals who are at risk of falling, such as people with limited mobility, the elderly, and people with long-term conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.

Wearable technology not only benefits vulnerable individuals living at home, but also those in residential care settings and their carers. Nurse call systems which are integrated with smart wearables can be personalised to ensure individual safety with minimal disruption to other care home residents. It also respects dignity while improving management insights, workflow efficiencies, staff morale, and care quality.

Devices can also be worn which protect users when away from home, automatically detecting falls, offering an SOS function and providing the user’s location.

 

The benefits of managed technology and smart wearables

Technology can require equipment from a range of manufacturers. Identifying, purchasing and managing devices from multiple sources can prove challenging and resource intensive for local authority community alarm centres.

Nottinghamshire County Council (NCC) has a managed healthcare service which includes home units, telecare sensors and wearable devices which are all tailored to the needs of individual service users.

All connections are monitored and referrals are made to the NCC Responder team, nominated contacts or the emergency services, as appropriate. NCC also has Reablement Assessment flats with telecare in place to support people leaving hospital, helping them to increase wellbeing and regain skills to enable them to return home.

Between October 2019 and December 2020, significant benefits and improved outcomes have been observed. Over 280 cases where a high and immediate risk of admission to residential care were avoided, and over 650 cases which required additional community care costs were avoided.

In total, savings of over £2.2 million have been achieved after additional service costs, costs of homecare for people diverted from residential care, and loss of client contributions have been deducted.

 

The next generation of wearable technology

The deployment of smart technology, including wearable devices, enables vulnerable people to live safely and independently for as long as possible. However as demands change, the care journey is now evolving rapidly and healthcare services must adapt accordingly.

We’re beginning to see the next generation of predictive care technology and smart wearable devices, and over the next few years this will encompass integration that enables diverse and scalable models of health and social care. Using AI and taking data-driven insight from multiple sources, providers will use this next generation of solutions to optimise Population Health Management programmes by providing personalised and anticipatory care.

Smart wearables in health and social care are designed to improve quality of life and empower individuals to take control of their health, while supporting the NHS and additional stakeholders by reducing the number of required GP visits, ambulance callouts, hospital admissions, and demand for local authority funded residential care

For more information on how wearable technology can support the ongoing delivery of proactive and effective support, please visit www.tunstall.co.uk

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