Former Microsoft Corporation Executive Takes Lead in AI (photo: Kevin Ku)
The world is at the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution, also referred to as Industry 4.0. Disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics, Internet of Things (IoT) and Virtual Reality (VR) are changing the way we live and work. AI is evolving at a rapid pace. Organizations are using AI to perform a variety of useful functions. Countries are discovering new ways to transform themselves using AI. The AI technologies are becoming firmly embedded in our lives. The question is no longer whether we use AI or not, but rather how we can better collaborate with it. The management of risks around AI are also a key feature of robust corporate governance.
Some of the world’s greatest minds have devoted themselves to usher in this technological revolution. It has taken them many years of hard work and tireless dedication to bring the human civilization to the present era of technology. CorpGov spoke to Krishna C. Mukherjee, who figures prominently among the leaders who have contributed significantly to the advancement of technology and business. He has devoted a large part of his career to the research and development of AI.
Early stages of AI development
Krishna C. Mukherjee has an excellent educational background. He studied engineering at the elite Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). In 1988, he was recruited by Microsoft from IIT Kanpur to create architectures, and design and develop software products. At that time, he was completing his Master’s degree in Computer Science and Engineering, with specialization in AI and Robotics. He had conducted excellent research, written a thesis on AI and published papers in AI conferences. He graduated at the top of his class. Soon thereafter, he joined Microsoft at the company’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, USA.
Krishna C. Mukherjee served as Principal Architect and Lead Software Engineer for Microsoft. He played a vital role in the architecture, design and development of the Microsoft Office suite of applications and the Microsoft Windows operating system. From 1988 to 2004, he designed and developed key features and technologies for Microsoft. He introduced AI at Microsoft. He oversaw the creation of AI-based features, including AutoFormat and IntelliSense, that have become integral part of Microsoft products.
In the earlier Graphical User Interface (GUI) frameworks, there was no separation between what an application looks like and how it behaves. Both the user interface and its behavior had to be programmed in imperative languages such as C#. Krishna C. Mukherjee created AI-based architectures to separate the appearance and behavior of GUI applications. He invented the concept of using declarative mark-up languages to generate advanced user interfaces. Under his leadership, Microsoft developed innovative technologies: Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) and Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML).
Throughout his career, Krishna C. Mukherjee has been a driving force behind Microsoft’s success. He has contributed energy, skills and talent towards the success of Microsoft. His accomplishments have helped Microsoft to become a leader in the technology industry and one of the most valuable companies in the world. He received many awards and honors from Microsoft.
AI for Workflow Automation
While Krishna C. Mukherjee was working to increase Microsoft’s strength in AI technologies, he was also inventing other strategies to commercialize AI. In the late 1990s, he created the “Intelligent Filling Manager,” popularly known as INTELLIFM, to automate the workflow systems that organizations use regularly. INTELLIFM, an AI-based technology, disrupted many industries including insurance, legal, finance and health care. With INTELLIFM, Mukherjee introduced a high degree of collaboration between cross-functional teams, and thus greatly improved the efficiency of business processes. In fact, this cross-functional collaboration is the key to Agile software development that has become popular since its inception in 2001.
From the late 1990s to the early 2000s, Krishna C. Mukherjee developed and established his Software as a Service (SaaS) model that gives organizations the ability to perform complex business transactions on the Internet, or the cloud. During these creation years, he served as the Chief Information Officer for Wolters Kluwer. In this role, he transitioned the company’s traditional paper-based methods to automated electronic processes. He spearheaded the creation of the heavily used, award-winning SaaS applications CTAdvantage.com, hCue.com, MediRegs.com and LienSolutions.com. Customers use the SaaS applications on a subscription basis from Wolters Kluwer to manage their data and automate their enterprise workflows. The SaaS applications generate recurring revenue for Wolters Kluwer and also save costs for its customers.
Krishna C. Mukherjee made invited presentations on INTELLIFM, distributed computing and Microsoft technologies at AI conferences. He selected Microsoft Windows servers to host the SaaS applications for Wolters Kluwer N.V. He built strategic partnership between Microsoft and Wolters Kluwer. Through his efforts, he helped Microsoft gain recognition in the field of AI and get established in the enterprise software market. He enabled Wolters Kluwer to become a global provider of information services. Mukherjee received the Highest Achievement Award from Wolters Kluwer for his outstanding contributions to the success of the company.
AI in the Finance Industry
Krishna C. Mukherjee advanced his career from 2004 to 2011 in the finance industry. He worked in Directorial positions for Citadel, Bloomberg and UBS Group AG – three of the most well-known companies in the finance industry. He provided strategic direction to these finance companies. They experienced remarkable progress after Mr. Mukherjee infused advanced technology into their financial systems.
By using Microsoft’s WPF and XAML technologies that Mr. Mukherjee pioneered, software developers are able to work collaboratively with designers to create financial applications that are information-rich and have minimum code complexity. This collaboration is essential in a rapidly changing environment because it shortens the time from concept to delivery of the financial applications. The applications have elegant user interfaces that meet the expectations of technology-savvy financial users. The applications can process large volumes of data in real-time, and satisfy the high-performance and security needs of the finance industry.
One of Mr. Mukherjee’s most important contributions to the finance industry is the architecture, design and development of the Bloomberg Valuation Service, popularly known as BVAL. Previously, prices were determined on the basis of models that considered market opinions and comparable securities. Hence, these prices were subjective and inaccurate. The investment decisions, based on these prices, were speculative and not scientific. Mr. Mukherjee designed BVAL to provide accurate valuations with the help of sophisticated algorithms and AI. He ensured that BVAL uses the highest quality data for algorithmically computing prices of financial instruments. Moreover, he created a scalable architecture for BVAL. Today, BVAL prices millions of financial instruments across multiple asset classes. It provides the finance industry with rigorous, transparent and defensible valuations.
Mr. Mukherjee instilled new life in the finance industry with his AI-driven approach. He made the finance industry objective and reliable. He helped to build the foundation of modern financial technology or FinTech.
Krishna C. Mukherjee
AI in the Retail Industry
The collection of huge amounts of data and the usage of AI techniques to analyze data have brought a new perception paradigm. This phenomenon lets us understand a larger part of the world through its projection on the data space. Highly skilled resources are needed to manage data and capitalize on the opportunities it offers. Electronic commerce (e-commerce) has become a necessity for businesses. Retail companies need experts like Mr. Mukherjee who can integrate modern technology into existing business environments.
After his success in the finance industry, Mr. Mukherjee set his focus on the retail industry. He linked up with Icon Parking Systems, popularly known as Icon. The company is a leader in branded parking services with more than three hundred locations in Manhattan and surrounding areas. More than forty thousand cars are parked daily at Icon’s locations. As the Head of Software Development, Mukherjee transitioned Icon’s business from VAX mainframe to a hybrid cloud environment. He also directed the development of the heavily used e-commerce site IconParkingSystems.com.
Mr. Mukherjee also advanced other areas of Icon’s technological work-frame. He directed the development of an internal web-based accounting system. Icon’s employees use this internal system to enter and update customer information, post recurring charges, issue debits and credits, view ledger balances, prepare monthly and new customer billing, generate invoices and perform other business critical activities.
While modernizing Icon, Mr. Mukherjee identified a very important problem: Customers were reluctant to make payments without confirmation that their money was going to be handled promptly and securely. In 2012, he created the AutoPay platform to solve this problem. AutoPay allows customers to schedule payments from their bank accounts or cards for paying recurring bills. The relevant funds get automatically deducted on specific days. AutoPay is secure, convenient and fast. It saves time and effort for customers, and helps them to streamline their finances. They do not miss a payment or incur late fees.
Mr. Mukherjee’s e-commerce strategy worked like magic for Icon. The company’s customers, who are individuals and organizations, use IconParkingSystems.com to sign up for monthly, daily and hourly parking at premier locations. They pay their bills using electronic checks (ACH), debit and credit cards via the AutoPay system. In return, Icon receives payments on time. The company no longer has to handle an excessive amount of paperwork for processing paper checks and cash. Electronic payments made by customers are automatically processed and posted to Icon’s ledger. Mukherjee’s AutoPay has been adopted widely. Today, many companies in retail and other industries offer AutoPay to their customers.
Under Mr. Mukherjee’s leadership, Icon became highly efficient and profitable. The company acquired new locations and re-opened old locations that it had to close. Mukherjee chose Microsoft technologies to create the e-commerce presence for Icon. Thus, he helped Microsoft to gain business in the competitive cloud market.
The popularity of e-commerce has changed the way retail companies operate. Customers shop in a variety of ways. They may look at reviews of a product or brand, visit a store in person, and then buy through the retailer’s website. Omni-channel allows retailers to create a unified and holistic experience with their brand, services and products. With this in mind, Mr. Mukherjee has worked on advancing omni-channel retailing with superior technology and AI. His portfolio now includes mobile applications that implement contactless digital wallets, such as Apple Pay, for enhanced security and privacy. He has been incorporating AI-based recommendation engines into retailing applications to generate personalized ensembles of products for shoppers. His goal is to optimize the shopping experience of customers and also meet the business objectives of retailers in the best possible way.
AI for Customer Service
During his work with advanced technologies, Krishna C. Mukherjee has zoned in on a key focal point for distributed and cloud-based systems: These systems must be efficient, robust and reliable. Accordingly, he continues to create AI-based architectures and designs when building distributed and cloud-based systems for enterprises. He ensures that state-of-the-art error handling capabilities are built into these systems. The error notifications, such as emails, phone calls, pager alerts and instant messages, are sent to support teams immediately when any error happens at runtime. The AI-based auto-correction capabilities enable the enterprise systems to fix the errors automatically, without the need for human intervention.
Mr. Mukherjee has also been designing Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems to service and direct high volumes of phone calls. The IVR systems interact with the customers, and only if necessary, transfer the calls to the human agents. Mukherjee has been researching the application of Natural Language Processing (NLP) to improve the IVR systems. His goal is to simulate real, two-way conversations by giving the customers more control over the call flows. He aims to use NLP to make the IVR systems more dynamic so that customers do not have to go through a menu of options that may be irrelevant to their enquiries. Further, by using NLP, Mr. Mukherjee plans to analyze sentiments of callers. He feels that insights gained through sentiment analysis help organizations to identify and act on the root causes of issues and mitigate problems before they become serious. Additionally, Mr. Mukherjee has been researching the application of Machine Learning (ML) to implement predictive routing of customer calls. He has been applying ML to build IVR systems that can anticipate the reasons for a call and rout the customer to the best matching agent.
For many years, IVR has been unchallenged in the customer service domain. More recently, however, the chatbot has been vying for the top spot. Mr. Mukherjee has been researching chatbots and how they can better apply decision-tree logic, or more complex AI, to improve customer experience. The field is open from an enterprise perspective. As one would expect, chatbots are showing good results in the e-commerce and retail world that Mukherjee has transformed. Mukherjee feels that both IVR systems and chatbots can be used for providing superior customer service. Customers, who prefer to call, can be connected by the IVR system to the best human agent. Others, who approach online, can be greeted by a friendly chatbot.
Through his innovative work, Mukherjee has been helping organizations to become more profitable by providing excellent customer experience and by increasing employee efficiency.
Optimism about AI and Automation
A business can grow earnings by increasing the topline with organic growth, by improving the bottom-line through higher efficiency and by cultivating inorganic growth through acquisitions. As a Senior Executive, Mr. Mukherjee has been focusing on all the three aspects. His illustrious professional career spans for more than three decades. His innovations have automated workflows and maximized efficiency of many businesses across industries. His software architectures and domain-driven designs have been adopted to create many new products and services. He has enabled organizations to improve their level of compliance with ever-changing regulatory requirements. Customer service has become excellent with the AI-based systems that he has designed.
In August of 2019, the prestigious publication Marquis Who’s Who honored Mr. Mukherjee with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his incredible accomplishments in the field of technology. This award endorsed and solidified what experts have known for a long time: Krishna C. Mukherjee has shaped the world as we know it.
Mr. Mukherjee has used AI and automation to help organizations increase sales and improve customer service, eliminate repetitive tasks and increase productivity, analyze data and improve prediction capabilities, expedite important decisions and actions, and enhance business agility. He has shown to the world that technological advancements are extremely beneficial to society. He is optimistic about the future of AI and automation. He says, “Forward-thinking organizations that implement AI and automation are sure to succeed and exceed our expectations.”