Bitcoin and Ethereum are controlling trillions of dollars of transactions every day. It is as ready as it can be right now.
MEDIA 7: You have spent 25 years working with startups and Fortune 500 companies, while mastering the art of using applied Psychology with AI to help businesses grow. How do you use Human Psychology with AI in your technology stack to successfully achieve this?
MANUJ AGGARWAL: You know business is all about humans, right? As a business, we manufacture something, whether it's a product or service. Then, the team or the employees of the company, or the salespeople go out there in the market and sell it to the customer. Business is all about human interactions. The trick is, if a seller and buyer can understand each other better in aspects like: what are people demanding and what do I have, what are their hopes, dreams, objections, etc. - then the buyer can really be effective in whatever he is trying to do or sell. In addition, salespeople who can listen to other people and sell better and people in operations who can really understand the needs of their teams can make their teams more efficient. These are things that we inherently understand in our minds, but when you add data into the mix, it is very easy to figure out the objective reality.
For instance, we have a product - a new design of a shirt. We may think that the color pink looks really good, right? That is our perspective. But if you collect data from the consumer by asking a hundred people, “Hey, do you like this color?” and there is, say, 56 people out of a hundred pick orange, we can know that pink is probably not the right choice. So, now, you can see that as we collect data, we can figure out what exactly people's preferences are and then act accordingly. But this is a very simple data set. Markets are a very complicated dynamic. There are many players and data points interacting with each other to figure out the objective reality. Let's say that you want to predict weather patterns. You need to take into account a lot of factors such as wind speeds, seasons, etc. When you put so many data points together, it is not easy for our human minds to analyze that based on a factor, something happened.
That is where Artificial Intelligence comes in, where it can actually take multiple parameters and then put it all together. So somebody who wants to understand what the target audience wants and utilizes AI, it makes it a lot easier to figure it out. You can see its use on social media platforms such as Facebook, which uses Artificial Intelligence to figure out what you are interested in. Based on the likes that you put in, it feeds you with similar content and so the result of that is that you look at the world in that way and believe that this is the ultimate truth. In the past few years, you have seen even political decisions have been altered based on the output of Artificial Intelligence. So now you can see how human psychology and Artificial Intelligence are already playing together.
M7: There's a lot of excitement about AI and big data in the market right now. According to you, how do you see it as a complete game-changer for businesses today and in the near future?
MA: When a revolutionary technology comes on the scene, the long-term impact cannot be seen so far ahead, right. But here are a few analogies I use - when the industrial revolution started and before the steam engine was invented, 99% of the population used to work in the fields just to make sure that they had food on the table. They could not take time off or anything like that. But when machines came, then we could use our hands and legs to do whatever else because the machines are doing the heavy lifting. So then after that, we started having weekends, enjoying music, creating things, and all that. Now, with Artificial Intelligence, our minds will be free to do whatever we want because the mundane things will be taken over. So, it's that kind of radical shift.
We are already seeing the impact of such with self-driving cars, for example. A lot of medical diagnosis is also being done by AI. If you look around, from the start of the day, till the end of the day, you may be interacting with AI through at least 15 different points. So, the jobs which need repetition will be eliminated or replaced by computers because it's a simple pattern recognition or repetition. But the thing is that when these radical shifts happen, people who adapt to the changing environment, they can find new opportunities. As an example, back in 2005, nobody had heard of anything called smartphones. But people who recognized the opportunity made a lot of money. So, if people recognize this as a new opportunity, they will be able to find new ways of using it and people who don't use it, because they are scared of something, will miss out on those opportunities.
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M7: At this rate, do you think AI can replace humans and workforces in the near future?
MA: Yes, it's already replacing it! Think about driving a car now. I took maybe two months to learn how to drive a car. And even then, I was not perfect at it. Those two months have now been replaced by a chip. You don't need to do anything. So, is it not replacing humans? If intelligent people can take two months to learn how to drive and that has been replaced by a simple chip, it's already replacing the human race.
Entrepreneurship is not easy and if you don't have any interest in it, you're going to give up.
M7: Talking about AI and big data, what are some of the best ways businesses can leverage the potential and the power of these two to help them grow and expand in the current marketplace?
MA: What I say to people is that it is not about how people can utilize data, but you need to ask what is the main problem you are trying to solve and then work backward from there. Say, I want to sell a lot of shirts - that is my objective. Now I need to use data to find out which design I should be selling so that I can sell the most. So, I start by collecting data about shirts. You see, it doesn't work forwards. It needs to work backward. The idea is that if you have clarity on your business objectives, then you can find data to support them. That data can reside inside your organization or outside of your organization. It could be census data, could be data from advertising, different platforms, and others.
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M7: It's like working backward to build a supply chain or a manufacturing process to achieve desired outcomes. At TetraNoodle Technologies, how do you help businesses achieve this by using actionable insights to help them grow?
MA: There is an overall strategy that we use. When somebody comes to us with an objective, and in some cases, they aren’t sure of what they want, we start with first identifying what kind of problems they have. Say, someone wants to disrupt the education sector. That's very broad, right? Sometimes someone might say, “When I was growing up, I hated exams. I didn't like exams so maybe you can do something about exams.” What we do is that, we narrow it down and then we come to a point where we know that this is the objective that they want to achieve now. And when we try to do something, we all know that we need to try different methods to achieve something new. So if something has already been done successfully, then obviously, there is no problem. But people don't come to us for things which have already been done, but when they want to innovate, or do something new. In this case, we have to come up with several hypotheses of what will work.
Going back to my previous example, there could be millions of colors that we can study in the market, but that is not feasible. Say, we pick five - green, white, orange, pink, and blue. Now we can take these five and then test it and see what works. If the orange one wins, we know this is the right choice. We do that for every component of the system. Let's say, somebody wants to build an app. We create different hypotheses and we test them, and then we proceed to implement the solution. We decide the timeline and how long it will take to first understand the market - what are the needs and the gaps - and then come across and create a strategy accordingly. In case you want to build one bedroom. That may take two months. But if you want to build a 10-story building, that may take one year. So, when we work with startups, their cases are simple, but when we work with fortune 500 companies, their cases are more complicated. We can execute projects within four weeks up to several years.
M7: Currently, there is a lot of excitement around blockchain also. So, what makes it a trusted approach for growing businesses?
MA: Fundamentally, what blockchain does is that it gives you a reliable way to trust each other. Businesses have been around for centuries. In prehistoric times, people used to barter and exchange goods. Over time, this evolved and today we have a system that is prone to people cheating each other, making it difficult to trust each other. Let's say you and I enter into a deal. You say to me that you want to get my consulting service and you’ll pay you a hundred dollars for that. Now if I provide the service early, I don't know whether I'll get paid or not. And you might think that if I don't get the right service, I wasted my money. So now that distrust requires us to contact a third-party, a bank or Escrow or something like that, where we say, “Hey, you know, you hold onto this hundred dollars. When we both agree with this service, then you can release the payment.”
And the bank will say, “Okay, I'm happy to do that, but I'm going to charge you $10 for that.” So now $10 is given to somebody else so that we can proceed with the deal. Inherently, right now, with blockchain, what happens is that you and I can directly go to a blockchain and proceed with the deal. You promise me a hundred dollars and I promise my service for it. As soon as we both agree, you release the payment. There is no bank needed. There is no fee needed. Therefore, with blockchain, everything is in such a way that we cannot tamper with it. There is no opportunity for us to go behind each other's back and alter any records. That is the power of blockchain. It can help businesses eliminate mistrust and establish concrete rules that can be triggered by technology itself rather than humans intervening with each other.
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There is no opportunity for us to go behind each other's back and alter any records. That is the power of blockchain.
M7: So, would you say that blockchain is not susceptible to cyberattacks?
MA: It is susceptible. Nothing in the world is not impenetrable. That means that if you buy a lock, it can be broken. There are always going to be barriers and they're always going to be people who try to overcome those barriers. In the security industry, it's a cat and mouse game. Especially with quantum computing coming, and all that locked-in can be cracked. But at the same time, you can also argue in the same sentence that these new technologies will also enable blockchain developers to make stronger encryption.
M7: According to you, is blockchain a ready approach for businesses to adopt as a strategy for growth?
MA: Yes, I mean, Bitcoin and Ethereum are controlling trillions of dollars of transactions every day. It is as ready as it can be right now. Blockchain as a technology is good, but cryptocurrencies are creating a problem for a lot of governments who are figuring out how to control the currency flow and all that. Once that is regulated, then it will give way to mass adoption, but right now it is very early in the technology cycle. Artificial Intelligence has been around for several decades and now it is picking up steam and blockchain just got invented around 2008. It's very young.
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M7: Thank you so much for such an insightful interview. Lastly, as a business mentor, what is your advice to entrepreneurs today who are just starting and growing their businesses in a digital-first market?
MA: There are two things – business, again, is about people. So, the first person that starts is you. Most people start a business just to make money, and not with any inherent interest in the business. I always recommend doing something that you're passionate about or something that you have experience in. Don't just say, that guy started a startup and now he is a millionaire. I'm going to do the same thing. You may have nothing to do with that field. And you might not find it interesting. And when you don't find something interesting, you will give up on that business. Entrepreneurship is not easy and if you don't have any interest in it, you're going to give up. Secondly, learn how to talk to people, communicate with people so that you can understand what they really want, because that's another problem where a lot of startup founders just say, ‘Oh, I'm only going to sell pink shirts.” Even when the demand is for orange shirts. When they don't care, the market will find the orange shirts somewhere else and their business will be lost.