#EmTechMonthly: AI for fragrances, instant paychecks and emotional intelligence

  • Posted on September 30, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes

Welcome to our monthly curation of emerging technology news tidbits and trends that help inform the research we do for our Avanade Trendlines program. Let’s discuss any thoughts you have in the comments.

Technology: An AI formula for fragrance
Yes, AI is everywhere, including fragrance creation. One of the benefits is the ability for it to quickly generate lots of alternative ingredients or formulas. Mariya Nurislamova, Scentbird CEO, noted that when the company incubated its new Confession of a Rebel fragrance, it did so by using over a million data points from its 300,000 Scentbird subscribers. 

Why should you care? The bigger story here is about embedding AI in product development and rethinking how companies develop and bring to market new products and services with input from customers. Fragrance startups are leveraging customer co-creation to help get the perfect fragrance. Organizations in the 21st century need to combine art and science, which we cover in our “Intelligence meets design” Trendlines report. 

Disrupting the paycheck
There’s a flurry of startups now trying to reimagine how the “paycheck is deployed, whether that’s getting faster access to income, helping consumers pay back debt, using pre-tax dollars more effectively, or teaching consumers better financial hygiene.”  

Why should you care? For the past few years there has been continued focus on fintechs. And outside of digital banks and peer-to-peer payments, many are now going after specific product lines and insurance benefit distribution. Square was recently granted a patent to offer employees “instant payroll deposits.” While the tech sounds great, we wonder what the social implications may be of an instant paycheck.

Profile: Lili Cheng and emotional intelligence 
Lili Cheng is corporate vice president of the Microsoft AI and Research division, responsible for the AI developer platform. Prior to Microsoft, Cheng worked in Apple Computer’s Advanced Technology Group on the user interface research team. Here’s a great video of Cheng talking about her career.

Why should you care? One area that Cheng is focusing on is emotional intelligence. Here’s an in-depth Q&A on Microsoft’s perspective: “we’re still a long way from AI being self-aware of when it’s being biased and when it isn’t. We still have that problem with people, so that’s probably something that we need to work on for a long time. But if we don’t start thinking about it and working on it now at the root of the systems that we create, then we will for sure create systems that replicate a lot of the problems that we see in society.”

The worst sales promotion in history: A lesson in living up to promises
“In late 1992, the UK branch of the vacuum manufacturer, Hoover, offered an impossibly sweet promotion: If a customer bought any product worth £100, he’d get two free round-trip flights to the United States. For the 84-year-old electronics brand, it was meant to be an eye-catching way to boost dwindling sales, escape the gloom of a recession, and shrug off increased competition. Instead, it led to the destruction of the company — a precipitous downfall that saw multimillion-dollar losses and customer revolts.”

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