Atul Jalan is unlike any other CEO. The 45-plus founder CEO of Bangalore-headquartered IT analytics firm Manthan doesn’t dish out stock quotes. He strongly believes Manthan’s latest offering – Maya, an on-demand, interactive voice interface should be put in the “class of an invention”. Maya voice interface will soon be the new, radical way for businesses to operate across the globe.
Currently powered by Amazon Alexa, Maya can give business updates, causal analysis and enables action-on-the-go. Targeted at busy CEOs who are dependent on their data analytics team to get a crystal-clear future outlook, Maya empowers CEOs by giving complex analytical insights on a fly.
The product was showcased at the recently concluded National Retail Federation Convention & Expo in the US and the company has planned more global previews in the summer. Speaking to Analytics India Magazine, Jalan is confident Maya, the groundbreaking invention will drive a paradigm shift in the way data is consumed and become a de facto industry standard.
“Steve Jobs gave the touchscreen interface that revolutionized the smartphone industry, I am giving a voice interface for business analytics, by far the toughest nut to crack and a thing completely unheard of,” says Jalan, an AI visionary and proponent.
Here’s why Manthan's Maya is exciting in two major aspects; a) semantic model as opposed to data warehousing model and it b) disrupts the conventional design paradigm.
Decoding Maya – the new way of consuming data
Built into Manthan’s analytical suite, this AI-powered conversational agent leverages in-house semantic data model and analytic assets and makes use of cutting-edge AI technologies such as voice recognition, natural language processing, machine learning algorithms and intent analysis. There is a new User Interface (UI) – Alexa working in the backend. By adding voice to its in-house, high-performance analytics engine, Maya goes beyond dashboards, pushing insights that are most crucial and enabling a two-way conversation with data.
“You are interacting with your data in a human form instead of using SQL. Not every CEO may be well-versed in technology and with Maya the direct beneficiary is the CEO. Also, Maya will bring a new class of users who are from a non-technology background to the table,” says Jalan.
Here’s how Maya dishes out crucial metrics such as sales growth, sales ratio and profitable vendors in real-time:
- Once the voice-text happens, natural language processing is carried out by Maya’s own framework
- After the voice-text process, complex analytical system fires 7-8 different queries at datasets
- Every time you converse with Maya, its algorithm gets trained better
- Voice command conversions happen in two SQL queries
- Real magic of Maya is the result pops out in real time
What’s on the block for Manthan's Maya?
Currently, Maya is integrated with Amazon Alexa but soon it will be accessible via Google Home, Microsoft owned Cortana and Siri as well. “Integration is not an issue. We are only leveraging the voice because we didn’t want to reinvent the wheel. But Maya can also work without the hardware and we are planning something on those line where the hardware will exist only in conceptual terms. For the voice we are mulling over a voice synthesizer tool,” he shared.
Initially targeted at the retail sector, “Manthan’s bread and butter”, Maya can soon be leveraged by consumer-focused industries such as aviation, hospitality, healthcare and Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) industry.
The 14-year-old company whose software is deployed in 28 countries and has a staff across India and American offices is not shying away from massive announcements. In the months to come, Manthan will be previewing Maya at major tech and trade shows in the US. From a business and adoption standpoint, Jalan is confident the product will be met with stupendous success. When AIM visited Manthan HQ, Jalan revealed that Version 1.0 will be shipped out to select clients next week. Safe to say, the voice interface product has evinced a lot of interest.
Hardware-free Maya in the offing:
Although Jalan revealed initially he didn’t wish to reinvent the wheel, his team is working on a hardware free Maya without Alexa or a Cortana working in the backend. While the timeline is undecided, Jalan rules out the future use of voice-based assistants and terms it as an unnecessary baggage. “Why would anybody want an additional device when we are all reliant on smartphones? Even if the hardware costs comes down I am sure voice-based assistants will outlive their utility soon,” he shares. The day is not far when you will be able to get all the business insights right on your smartphone.
Is AI going to phase out jobs?
However, there is one debate which the self-confessed sci-fi fan avoids staunchly. And that is of AI wiping out jobs. Jalan who is also authoring a paper on this burning topic; lets us in on his thoughts. According to him, science has solved many problems and bettered human life. “I believe there are some tasks such as bomb diffusion, sewage cleaning that should be performed by machines as it is faster, cheaper and better,” he says.
Manthan is credited for being the most inventive Indian company with a massive investment in R&D and admittedly Jalan often fields questions on “trimming down the R&D budget when that percent of revenue isn’t met” from the board. However, he is optimistic their latest revolutionary invention will disrupt the data and analytics market.
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Richa Bhatia is a seasoned journalist with six-years experience in reportage and news coverage and has had stints at Times of India and The Indian Express. She is an avid reader, mum to a feisty two-year-old and loves writing about the next-gen technology that is shaping our world.