Integrating the Business Lens of Women in Technology on the hello, Human Podcast
by Elizabeth Mitelman, Oct 18, 12:33:03 pm
Our podcast, hello, Human, offers an open forum to discuss the latest topics in artificial intelligence (AI) and how it’s being applied in the real world. We talk with not only the pioneers of AI, but also those who are putting AI to work transforming businesses, finding novel solutions to age-old problems, and advancing what humans can accomplish.
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Episode 13 - Integrating the Business Lens of Women in Technology
In episode #13, we talked with Tripti Sethi, Global Azure Center of Excellence Lead at Avanade, an IT consulting services firm focused on the Microsoft platform. Tripti holds a B.E. in Mechanical Engineering, an M.S. in Operations Research & Industrial Engineering, and has worked in analytics for most of her 15-plus year career. In her current role at Avanade, she is responsible for growing the company’s artificial intelligence capabilities, recruiting new talent, building AI assets, and helping sell AI solutions.
Tripti began focusing on operations research in engineering school. The combination of mathematical modeling and economics attracted her, and additional exposure to game theory and supply chain analytics put her on a path to build more analytics expertise. Eventually, she was recruited as Avanade’s first data scientist, and then created their AI practice, initially in Europe and then for the entire globe.
“I remember my first year we hired 50 data scientists in Europe,” Tripti recalled. “Step-by-step, a lot of things started falling into places and we continue to grow on this journey. This gives a lot of momentum to the practice to be able to have a global team that is the tip of the spear, doing some leading-edge things.”
Putting AI to Work
When it comes to AI, leading-edge is frequently the only edge. But that can cause concerns on the business side, where stakeholders might not have the analytics chops to evaluate AI solutions. For Tripti, her interest in both operations and analytics made her an ideal champion to guide business decision-makers and build better AI solutions. That’s when she began applying AI to solve sales and marketing challenges. However, making those solutions work in reality means everyone has to be on the same page.
“The best prediction models can fail if the marketing, sales, and other aspects are not in place, if the strategy is not in place, if the change management is not in place,” Tripti explained. “It was really an eye-opener for me to see how AI was actually used in practice. This is what sparked my move to consulting.”
As a consultant, Tripti could put AI to work closing the gap between technology and the business. AI could drive larger digital transformations, but only if the business used the technology. Projects can fail without sufficient governance and human-centered design, Tripti said. However, companies are shifting rapidly—especially during the pandemic—to creating solutions that set out from the start to meet the needs of users.
Expanding the Human Value of AI
Tripti talked about new and novel applications of AI, and also those that just help people. One example was using AI to capture the constantly changing pandemic guidance and then dynamically update virtual agents at healthcare provider call centers. The result was less time consumed by critical healthcare workers answering simple questions. Deeper examples, however, included inventory tracking, risk identification, workforce management, and more.
“The whole step change we’ve seen in using AI for things like environmental monitoring, energy optimization, or driving commitments to reduce carbon footprints, these sorts of applications of AI are very exciting,” said Tripti. “AI can also now search a lot of unstructured data, like documents, so we’ve even seen nonprofits use it to think about grants, be more gender-equitable, or use research from one place to impact another. Some of these I really find very exciting.”
Regarding gender and equity, Tripti looked to the broad array of minds needed to develop and deploy AI. Each member of the team, from data scientist to developer to practitioner, must be conscious of the outcomes. And, the rise of low-code/no-code AI will add even more diversity and inclusion to the development of AI solutions by including more input from practitioners and end-users.
“There are so many roles women can play in technology for those who love to code and for those who maybe don’t love to code,” Tripti explained. “I also want to see some of the roles in AI that may not even exist today. Things like legal and governance, regulatory and compliance. There could be roles around reducing bias in datasets and how diversity can play a key role in AI being more inclusive. I think there are going to be roles coming up that are so exciting and may not even exist today.”
Tripti did recognize the lack of diversity on the supply side of technology jobs. But, through mentorships and hackathons, and working with groups like Teens in AI and Correlation One, she’s doing her part and spreading the word.
“Don’t forget the role within your own organization, being allies, being mentors, being sponsors, and really being that voice,” Tripti added. “I feel there’s no shortage of things companies can do in this journey.”