Imagine you want to buy a new laptop. You are a little nervous because it’s your first time and you are not a tech geek. So, you connect to your e-commerce store and a chatbot comes to your rescue. What...chatbot? Chatbot is a computer program which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. You share your needs with a chatbot and instead of tediously searching the vast selection; it will suggest a few solutions perfectly matched to your specifications. And if you have a problem understanding some terms, the chatbot will be also ready to explain it to you.
Welcome to the world of chatbots! It’s a service that’s powered by rules and artificial intelligence where you interact via a chat interface. And making purchases is not the only function of chatbots. Used in conjunction with many messenger platforms, chatbots are proving their worth in providing accurate and specific information, entertainment, customer service, lead generation and sales. Chatbots are replacing people in call centres and are increasingly present in toys providing an educational experience. It can guide you in buying a diamond, making investments, booking flights & hotels and even being a life coach!
With more people using messenger apps than social networks, chatbots are growing at a phenomenal rate. Today there are chatbots that teach you how to design and develop chatbots! In China there is a bot called Xiaoice, developed by Microsoft that’s a friend to 20 million people. Bots are changing the human resources landscape too – Engazify bot enables a person to appreciate their teammates...it captures team wins and turns the entire celebration into a game. Micromax has introduced AISHA which is a voice assistant very much like SIRI from Apple. It can initiate a Google search, give movie reviews, make calls and even give stock exchange news. Powered by artificial intelligence it has emerged as one of the most popular bots in India.
Predictably chatbots are revolutionising workplaces and business environments right here in India. They are inexhaustible and eliminate errors when it comes to managing tedious jobs like filling out formatted forms in the fields of medicine, insurance and finance. They can sift through details, undertake cross referencing and provide solutions at incredible speed. Many banks and financial organisations already offer bots, and many are in the process of introducing them to enhance customer experience.
Clearly chatbots are happening and are the future of many exciting opportunities and solutions in the years ahead. Professionals like us need to keep a track of its developments. The growing popularity of chatbots is the direct result of the vast number of mobile phone users in India along with the low data rates. According to the TRAI, there are near to 1020 million active mobile connections in India in May 2017. The sure versatility and convenience of the mobile is now turning us into unashamed addicts.
Opportunity – one of the best professional employment and business networking sites on the web surveyed its two million members worldwide to reveal some interesting trends. Phone addiction among professionals is real and is also one of the disadvantages of technology including chatbots. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being highly addicted) the average professional rated themselves with a level of 6.26. Most (around 60%) rated themselves as moderately addicted; while 20% claimed that they were highly addicted. Interestingly iOS users had a higher level of addiction vis a vis the more widespread Android users. What’s a bit alarming is that 42% of respondents said that they were getting more addicted to their mobile phones with each passing year.
Another interesting trend is that 34% checked their phone around 50 times a day while 10% checked their phone 6-10 times a day. And what were the most popular uses of the phone? Social media, checking mails and phone calls topped the list, with texting, checking news and business processes coming in next. What’s interesting is that the use of WhatsApp was nearly triple the next most popular app which was emails. Clearly mobile addiction is fast becoming a problem for people of all ages. We will need to learn how to disconnect and start communicating with people face to face without a technology interface. Our obsession with the phone is boxing us in and making us more robotic and less human...surely we can be successful and enjoy life without being chained to the mobile phone.
In the beginning of October, Brand Finance released its Nation Brand 2017 report which like a ship without lights slipped by with little media attention. India was ranked as the 8th most valuable nation brand with a total value of US$2.04 trillion. The recent slowdown in economic growth is considered the key reason behind India dropping one place from last year.
India improved its brand rating from ‘AA-’ to ‘AA’ but it failed to make it to the top ten best performing or strongest brands. Brand analysts have identified democracy, diversity, young population and technological receptivity as the pillars of India’s brand value. To ascend the rankings, India needs to introduce reforms to maximise job creation, provide fiscal support and boost economic growth. US retained its top spot as the most valuable nation brand growing a meagre 2% while China took the second spot notching an impressive growth of 44%. The interesting trend was that established European nation brands recorded negligible growth or a decline; while Asian nation brands have raced ahead at high speed.
The Ministry of Finance in early August had extended the 'due-date' for filing Income Tax Returns and various reports of audit prescribed under the Income-tax Act,1961 from 30th September 2017 to 31st October 2017 for all taxpayers who were liable to file their Income Tax Returns by 30th September 2017.Tax payers whose returns were required to be audited for fiscal year 2016-17 got an extra month in their hands to file their returns.
But the pressure of GST filings and other compliances in October led to heavy load of work in this month. It became the month of ITRs, Balance Sheets and Audit Reports. No matter how much you plan through the year and extensions you get, one still ends up racing towards meeting the due date. Your breakfasts, lunches and dinners, all take place in office. While the boss hopes for an extension of due date, the staff and articles pray for things to end as soon as possible. Lack of sleep may leave you with red eyes, the work pressure makes you go crazy. The best way to mitigate all this is to take concrete efforts to educate the clients not to be ready at the last moment in order to meet the various deadlines comfortably. This will ensure that a practicing CA can also find to spend quality time with his family even during the pressure months.
As we come to the end of this month of very hectic compliances, various programs are being planned and organised by several Committees of the Society in the coming few months. We have the “Finserv Conclave” on 10th November followed by the “Allied Laws Seminar” on 17th November, both at Mumbai. In December we have 2 joint programs. One at Bengaluru on 1st / 2nd on “Start-up Conference – Challenge Perspective” with KSCAA and the other at Kolkata on various subjects with DTPA on 8th. Our 51st Residential Refresher Course will be held between 11th to 14th January 2018 at our evergreen venue- Mahabaleshwar. Request members to enrol for these programs and enrich their knowledge besides build new networking among the fraternity.
Few of the valued members of the Society may have missed out to pay their renewal fees for the current year 2017-18. We request them to pay the same at the earliest and continue to be our worthy members and enjoy all benefits of BCAS membership.
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With kind regards
CA. Narayan Pasari