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Digital transformation is the missing piece in the digital evolution process according to Founder and CEO of Italian startup Digital Business Innovation srl, Antonio Grasso. For this interview, Antonio Grasso takes a seat with Engati CX to explore the concept of digital transformation and how it’s used to create new business models and opportunities.
Transcript of Interview with Antonio Grasso
We have the pleasure of welcoming Antonio Grasso to our interview series. I’m Vanessa Rose from the Engati team. Let's begin with just a quick introduction of Engati. Engati is the world's leading multilingual, no code, chatbot platform available across 14 channels, and 25,000 bots created across 186 countries, in every domain and use-case. We run the Engati blog and video channel, which receives upwards of 300,000 visitors annually. And now for our guest...
Antonio Grasso is the founder and CEO of Digital Business Innovation, an Italian startup. He has over 35 years of experience handling numerous projects in the field of information technology and automation for both enterprise and public sectors.
Antonio is also an accredited and qualified global mentor for startups and scale-ups of the world business Angel Investment forum.
Welcome Antonio, we’re thrilled to have you.
Thank you very much, Vanessa. It's a big pleasure to stay here and talk with you. I want to repeat this to everyone to please stay safe and stay home.
Let's begin. Let me start by asking you- you're involved with coaching and mentoring startups and leaders. What is the most opportune space for technology to make a difference?
Well, we need to watch technology with another point of view because the role of technology is changing. Nowadays, it’s not like how it was years before. For example, report analytics, or a summit but it's really pervasive inside the organization. So from startups to larger organizations, the role of technology has changed.
Particularly for startups. It's creating a new business opportunity because it's creating a new business model. If you mention for example, the Apple store, the Apple store would not exist if we didn't create the mp3. We digitize a product that is vinyl or CD to create the mp3.
This change has created new opportunities, a new business model, and in this case, Apple created the Apple store. So, the role of technology is absolutely changing our economy, our society, our institution, and global intervention. You know something, that we used to call digital transformation that is enabled by digital infusion. Digitalization is also something that brings technology inside the organization. Digitizing processes, product services.
So startups are harnessing the power of technology, creating new business models, harnessing the opportunity to create something that, sometime before you couldn’t create because you didn’t need it, because it simply did not exist. Imaging, uber, a lot of organizations. So from startups to organisations, technology is very important because technologies that we know the fulcrum of the digital transformation. But it’s not only the piece, it’s not only technology, everything is analytically approached- digitalization using technology, cool story skills, collaboration ecosystems et cetera. So as a mentor, Every day I strive to push on startups to try to see how technology can create new opportunities and new business models not only to do faster what we are doing.
Yes, we’ll move on to our next question- what challenges to organizations face in the acceptance of AI in the workplace?
Yeah Vanessa, when we talk about AI it’s a really large concept. You know, AI can do almost everything because it's a software. Against the normal software, you know, because normal software is coded to execute a simple action, the problem solving is deterministic. Let me say, if this, then execute that. It reasons this way- if the user presses this button, then the program does this. if the user inputs this word, then do that. Okay, so it’s absolutely deterministic.
While AI is creating a new way to perform the problem solving you know that is a probabilistic approach. You know it’s something that thinks, that tries to learn from experience. So in this case of organizations. In the case of, for example, Conversational AI, it’s changing everything. It’s changing the user interface. You know, our virtual assistant, Alexa, Google, etc., they're changing, using natural language processing, to understand the user there is changing that the using That is how we deal with machines. Not only with the mouse with the keyboards, but also with voice, listening, or with video, and this will open a great opportunity to infuse AI in the organization in the process. But this is another statement because I think we can talk about it after this.
So I think when we talk about AI, in the organization, we need to consider that organization the DNA. Is made by processes. So when you want to infuse AI in the process you need to, refer to something that we call RPA or robotic process automation. RPA can be deterministic or it can infuse AI, in the mix, to achieve something that we call cognitive automation, or intelligence automation. So the computer doesn't stop when encountering a problem it doesn't know how to resolve, but instead tries to resolve based on experience on something on some model that is learned before. So we need to watch vertically the adoption in the enterprise, I think maybe.
And what's your view of the future of work? How do you think AI would contribute to the future you envision?
Yeah, I think there will be a great contribution by AI, but we need to consider it a tool. You know, it's not something that is- you know today in many parts of the world, a lot of people add AI to this or AI to that, or blockchain to this, blockchain to that. Okay, stay calm. Relax. AI is a software and it is different and has a different way to act. It’s not a software that is coded to execute some steps, but it's a code to learn instruction, to learn from experience, learn from events, to, you know, create the neural network, et cetera, et cetera.
So I think we have that in the workplace automation. We have a great impact on AI. But we also need to give an existing tool some cognitive capacity. I was talking earlier about robotic process automation, we are talking about the infusion of AI, we can talk about intelligent automation or cognitive automation. So what happens when you encounter a problem that you don't cannot resolve?
You can try to resolve it based on something, something we technically call inference. We try to understand how to come up with the best solution. Great impact on the world, please but every time I want to repeat, it's just a tool- please just consider it as a tool. Put people every time on stage. People are so important that we should be in focus. AI is a new kind of tool. Our society, our economies, is advancing faster thanks to emerging technology. But we need to realize that they are emerging technologies. AI, or blockchain or drones, et cetera, et cetera., we need to use them as tools.
So great impact, but they are a tool. We can do faster, we can do better, and we're happy. we are human beings. We can focus on something that is not, you know, boring, like press this, do this, record the document and invoice something like these The interoperability between different software. AI, I can help in these tasks, but please it’s a tool of humanity. People are in the focus, every area ever.
So, AI is just a tool and people are important In the end?
Absolutely, I don't want to diminish AI. I'm a technical guy. I work with a guy I work with Machine Learning, deploring, absolutely. But I don't know, because I know AI very well. Okay, we call it artificial intelligence, but in reality we need to call it Artificial Simulated Intelligence because it's just a simulation. You know, the words are not correct, because can we call it intelligent? Something that we rely on a computational model on more than because we're laying on the same computational model from can be 50-60 years ago. Can you call that computational model intelligent? Or can we call intelligence something that multiplies five by three by adding 5 three times?
I don't know if we call that intelligence, so using the current computational model, we need to call that artificial simulated intelligence, we need just to demystify it a bit. To harness the most benefit, and to try to use it in the correct way. AI cannot resolve everything. AI can help to automate, but the one that's holding, that is managing everything, this is human being. No matter, no matter we cannot have substitution, no matter how many people.
In 20 years, we are not in the Matrix. We are not on Skynet, as movies like Terminator say. Not now. Not now, it can be in the future with the advent of quantum computing. If quantum computing becomes a reality, becomes commercial use, then we can see a big shift in the power of artificial intelligence. But I repeat, people need to stay focused. People are on the stage. Humanity is the key to addressing automation. All other things. Software that reason about zero and one, please. Software does this Operation seven by five. Okay, seven by far. Seven plus seven. Plus seven for seven plus seven. Okay, 35. Can we call these intelligent? In my view? No. So this is artificial simulating intelligence, but it's very important. Very important for us to spend our time in a better way.
On to our next question. You have been an advisor and a mentor to people established organizations as well as startups. You see, a difference in the way each of them approached AI?
Oh, nice question Vanessa.. Let me say they're completely different organizations, completely different bodies. You cannot compare a start up with the, for example, in a multinational company because you know, the reports of a multinational company of stylos. You have processes, you have something that every organization that is formal, that’s bureaucratic.
Startups are like a child. So, uh, this is the whole picture, but I think people are using AI, as the saying is better. It is easier for a startup to use AI to create a new business model, new opportunities to create itself from AI, than a large multinational company that can adopt technology or in the organization to better fulfil business processes.
For example, in health care, you can use artificial intelligence or diagnostic for medical purposes. The big difference for using emerging technology, which AI is one of the emerging technologies between a startup and a large multinational company is the way they approach. The startup approaches in an agile way, is faster. The good market of the startup is a “Wow, unbelievable, faster” than a good market for a new, larger multinational company. So I think they're really different. But because they themselves are different organizations.
It's very hard to modify the mindset in a company or the organization has 300,000 employees all there in 200 countries, with many factors- it’s so hard. It's so hard to change something in that kind of a presentation. But in a startup, on the opposite you are, it is smaller. It's a company founder, co- founders, some employees, so It's really easy to adopt, to infuse, or create opportunity, or harness the opportunity for reemerging technology to create a new business model. It's very easy. They are faster than larger organizations. In my view,
How do you believe AI in the corporate sector in the future is going to change the way we view our work and our relationships?
I’ve said before in the corporate space, apart from products for example- we mentioned, health care companies, they can create health care tools for example, if I am working to identify illness in the mind using the new technology that is cool. And mm, no graffiti is a new kind of technology, which uses a microwave. But this imaging that is the output will be projected will be using deep learning training the neural net to identify some sort of illness. Apart from this when we talk about corporations, we can harness the most AI in the business processes as said before so different kinds of user interface of user relationship. We can talk with the machine, we can listen to the machine. We can let the machine learn something. In the corporate world, the problem is the time. They need time to utilize AI.
When you say AI, in case one of them we see conversational AI, we say computer vision, we say, um, something other we are creating AI that create when they know generation at the Western night talk. We're doing a lot of a good job. So I think, in the corporate world, we need to start using it in the processes. So business process automation, business process management is the best during, apart from the production, you know, to create anything, in my view.
So you believe that transformation in every newspaper process that involves many aspects and technologies on your part of the positive. But deeply, Certainly. What according to you, are the other factors.
Yes, Vanessa. When we’re talking about digital information, we talk over an observation. Okay? We are observing a phenomenon. This is happening. But what is inside this phenomenon? Okay, We need to analyze three different aspects.
We have the first aspect before digitization. That is when a product becomes a digital product or service becomes digital. We are talking about imputed music in the sooner then mp3 become file and not being illiterate. Okay, this is digitization.
Then we have digitalization. That is when you infused technology in a business process. You can digitalize that kind of a process, or you can create a new business model harnessing the power of the digitization of some product that we talk about, uh, Apple store that is harnessing the power of MP3 to create a new business model. And then we way are different phenomena that’s digital transformation is something that is happening with you. It cannot change because it's a different kind of relationship between people to people, to machines. and the institution is changing the economy, thanks to digital fusion.
You know, digital fusion enables the spread to digitalization. Everyone at our fingers, without our phone. We have all our fingers in a lot of things. So it's something big. Something huge cannot miss to adapt to a mindset, to this that to this kind of. So I think about strategy, tutor, technology.
And let's see, um, I glimpse in the future can be a strategy. So technology is not only not the digital submission not only related to technology, but we need also to harness skills. We need to unless you know a cool tour- That is to say, we need to drop silo C in the organization.
We need to change our mindset. That is particular because we're changing our mindset. I want to give you an example, Vanessa. 10-15 years ago. If you go to a restaurant with the camera and you tried to shoot your meal, I think your friends would say “Are you okay? Are you okay?” Because it was not normal back then- to shoot your meal and send it to your friend saying “I'm eating this one right now.” The problem is that today when you go to a restaurant, everyone is shooting. So I think we are changing that. This is the best example.
You know, something that will change our mindset, our aptitude, Our behavior. I think this is very important. technology is there. It’s apart. It’s a tool. It's available every time to support this shift. But we need to change inside us and consider that we are stepping up to a big shift in our society. And let me add, we need to consider more closed sustainability, inclusion to put us out to put us on stream with this shift. We can harness the situation, we can harness these with this happening in our world with digital transformation to try to become better human beings.
Is there anything more you want to say to our readers?
Vanessa, the last word I used right now I love. I love to talk about sustainability. I love to talk about it because now we have the ability to do that. Because helping other people is not only important, but it's not only “no, send the money, send the goods that they need. It’s important,” but also you can help other people just with a contact.
You know the message with a poster with something you can stay close to him. So I think I'd like to say, don't use the Internet only to send electrons on the Internet. Send also a bit of you. Let digital transformation pervade yourself and, consider that a more inclusive, sustainable world is good for everyone, not only for people that are suffering, but also for you, for your company, your society. So I think we need to use digital transformation. By harnessing digital transformation, we can create a more inclusive, sustainable world, i hope.
Thank you so much Antonio.
Thank you, Vanessa. Glad to see you. I hope you enjoyed our conversation.
We hope you guys enjoyed this interview of the Engati CX series with Antonio Grasso. We’ll be launching more interviews with experts across the globe. Until then, stay tuned!