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Community solar developers look to artificial intelligence to help manage subscribers and advance equity

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Solstice, a pioneering company in the solar energy sector, has introduced AI-driven tools designed to assess risk and identify potential subscriber churn, aiming to enhance the efficiency and fairness of community solar projects.
Recent billing issues in ComEd territory in northern Illinois have raised concerns among solar companies, anticipating disruptions. Once rectified, subscribers will face a backlog of credits on their utility bills alongside accumulated charges for participating in solar projects, potentially leading to dissatisfaction and withdrawals.
Recognizing the significance of subscriber retention, especially amidst billing challenges, Solstice’s new AI tool offers a proactive approach to intervene before customers disengage. Subscriber turnover, or “churn,” poses a significant challenge for community solar projects, often fueled by billing frustrations, relocation, or project delays.
Solstice’s AI tool leverages predictive analytics to identify subscribers at risk of churn, drawing insights from a vast dataset of 15,000 accounts. By reaching out to distressed subscribers proactively, Solstice aims to address concerns promptly and ensure subscriber satisfaction.
During a pilot program, Solstice observed a remarkable reduction in churn from 48% to 8.3% among targeted at-risk customers, thanks to their AI intervention strategies. Furthermore, the tool aids in efficiently managing waitlists, expediting the enrollment process for aspiring subscribers.
Beyond addressing churn, Solstice endeavors to democratize access to community solar, challenging conventional credit scoring methods. Their AI-based model, EnergyScore, reveals that individuals with poor credit scores, often excluded from solar subscriptions, exhibit reliable payment behavior. By redefining risk assessment, Solstice aims to increase equity and inclusivity in community solar projects.
While embracing AI for enhanced customer engagement and project viability, Solstice remains vigilant against the risks of discrimination and bias inherent in AI technologies. Continuous monitoring and flexibility in methodology are crucial to mitigate unintended consequences.
CEO Steph Speirs emphasizes the transformative potential of AI in advancing the energy transition and fostering equitable participation in community solar. By leveraging data-driven insights, Solstice seeks to rewrite historical exclusionary practices and accelerate the adoption of solar energy among low-income communities.
Solstice’s commitment to equity aligns with broader industry efforts, as solar developers increasingly utilize advanced technology and AI to enhance customer experience and project viability. Through personalized engagement strategies and innovative AI applications, the solar industry aims to overcome challenges and drive sustainable growth in community solar initiatives.
Source: energynews.us
 
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Ethical considerations for AI adoption in MOps

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Understanding the ethical implications and best practices for responsibly integrating AI into marketing operations is crucial.
AI-driven tools and techniques offer significant benefits such as enhanced efficiency, personalized customer experiences, and data-driven decision-making. However, deploying AI in your organization requires meticulous adherence to ethical standards to uphold customer trust and facilitate a smooth transition for your workforce.
Here are key ethical considerations that marketing leaders must address when adopting AI, spanning enterprise governance, customer relations, and regulatory compliance:
Enterprise Considerations:

Transparency and Explainability: Customers must comprehend how their data influences AI-driven decisions. Ensure transparency in AI processes and provide explainability features to elucidate specific outcomes derived from AI algorithms.
Intellectual Property: Understand ownership and permissions related to AI tools trained on existing datasets. Given recent IP controversies, it’s essential to clarify data ownership chains. Whenever feasible, prioritize tools trained solely on your enterprise’s data to mitigate risks.
Compliance with Regulations: Adhere strictly to data privacy regulations such as GDPR and CCPA, along with emerging AI-specific regulations in regions like the EU. Stay informed about regulatory updates to align AI strategies accordingly.
Start Small and Scale: Initiate AI projects through pilot programs to assess effectiveness and gather feedback iteratively. This approach allows for adjustments and improvements before full deployment, enhancing the success of AI adoption.

Customer Considerations:

Acknowledgment of AI Usage: Disclose when AI powers customer interactions to maintain transparency. Offer options for human interaction alongside AI-driven communication to respect customer preferences.
Proactive Consent Management: Obtain explicit consent from customers regarding AI usage and data handling practices. Implement clear privacy policies and opt-in mechanisms to ensure compliance and uphold customer choices.
Bias Detection and Mitigation: Mitigate bias in AI models through regular audits and corrections. Collaborate with data and IT teams to ensure fairness in AI-driven processes, whether using off-the-shelf platforms or developing proprietary systems.
Data Anonymization: Protect customer privacy by anonymizing data used in AI training and operations. This ensures that AI models derive insights without compromising personally identifiable information.
Inclusivity in AI Applications: Embrace diverse perspectives and rigorous data scrutiny to promote ethical AI practices. Ensure AI applications, whether for personalization or predictive analytics, are inclusive and do not inadvertently exclude certain demographics.

Adopting AI in marketing operations holds immense potential for enhancing customer experiences and operational efficiency. However, prioritizing ethical considerations is paramount to safeguarding customer trust and ensuring regulatory compliance. By integrating these best practices, organizations can navigate the complexities of AI adoption responsibly and sustainably.
Source: martech.org
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From AI trainers to ethicists: AI may obsolete some jobs but generate new ones

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AI is rapidly taking over routine tasks in IT development and management, signaling potential benefits for the industry.
Recently, a job listing emerged for an “AI competency leader,” a position focused on collaborating across teams to implement generative artificial intelligence strategies across various domains. Such roles, unheard of just a year ago, are becoming commonplace in the AI era. While businesses are eager to harness AI’s potential, expertise in development and data science alone is no longer sufficient. The expanding responsibilities in AI initiatives span from algorithm training to ethical oversight.
Business landscapes are witnessing the emergence of novel job roles, as noted by industry insiders. Nearly seven in ten business leaders foresee the rise of generative AI leading to new positions such as AI auditors, ethicists, and prompt engineers, according to a Capgemini report. Doug Ross, Vice President and US Generative AI Leader at Sogeti, part of Capgemini, highlighted the growing demand for roles in AI management and digital transformation, emphasizing governance, strategy, stakeholder engagement, and policy in AI integration.
Robert Ghrist, Associate Dean at the University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, distinguishes two categories of AI roles. The first encompasses AI specialists with comprehensive training in machine learning, neural networks, and large language models. The second category, more intertwined with broader business and managerial functions, involves roles like “AI plus X,” where X represents fields such as law, medicine, or education, demanding both AI expertise and industry-specific knowledge.
Prompt engineering has also emerged as a prominent role in the AI era. Tony Lee, CTO at Hyperscience, acknowledges its current demand but questions its future as a full-time profession, suggesting its evolution may hinge on technological advancements towards more conversational and human-like interfaces.
In summary, as AI reshapes IT operations, it brings forth a spectrum of new career opportunities ranging from specialized AI roles to interdisciplinary positions combining AI with diverse industries. The evolution of these roles will depend on ongoing technological advancements and the evolving needs of businesses adopting AI strategies.
Source: zdnet.com
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The effects of GenAI on tax firm rates

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Generative artificial intelligence (GenAI) is beginning to penetrate the tax profession, promising substantial transformations in operational practices.
Despite initial concerns among professionals regarding accuracy and potential misuse, there is widespread optimism about GenAI’s capacity to streamline workflows and reduce time spent on repetitive tasks.
According to the Thomson Reuters Institute’s 2024 Generative AI in Professional Services report, professionals view GenAI positively, foreseeing numerous current and future benefits for tax and accounting practices. By leveraging GenAI, tax firms and departments can potentially expand service offerings, particularly in advisory capacities, leading to significant shifts in pricing strategies.
Zach Warren, who led the report, discusses the current state of GenAI adoption within tax firms and its implications:
Question: How extensively have tax firms embraced GenAI so far?
Warren: Our survey indicates that only about 10% of tax firms have adopted generative AI extensively; it remains largely in the exploration phase. Historically, the tax sector has been cautious about embracing new technologies due to regulatory concerns and risk aversion. However, those who have implemented GenAI are utilizing it across various functions such as tax return preparation, client research, general accounting, bookkeeping, and compliance. Despite these advancements, discussions around GenAI in contractual contexts like RFPs are minimal, indicating early-stage adoption within the profession.
Question: How could GenAI benefit tax firms?
Warren: One of the primary challenges facing the tax profession is workforce shortages amidst increasing complexities. GenAI offers a pathway to achieve more with fewer resources, thereby enhancing operational efficiency. Specific regulatory challenges, like the forthcoming Pillar 2 Regulation, are expected to necessitate significant process changes, where GenAI can play a crucial role in ensuring compliance across global frameworks. Additionally, the shift towards electronic invoicing in many jurisdictions underscores the need for advanced data management solutions, where GenAI can aid in organizing and maintaining compliance.
Question: Do clients anticipate faster service and reduced fees through GenAI?
Warren: According to our report, a majority of corporate tax departments express expectations for their external firms to adopt GenAI technologies, anticipating enhanced efficiency and potentially lower costs. While clients are increasingly supportive of technology-driven efficiencies, the ultimate distribution of these benefits between clients and firms remains a critical consideration. Nonetheless, the consensus is growing that GenAI will be instrumental in meeting client demands for quicker turnarounds and cost-effectiveness in tax services.
In conclusion, while GenAI’s integration into tax practices is still in its early stages, its potential to revolutionize operations and meet evolving regulatory demands is gaining traction among professionals and clients alike. As technology continues to advance, tax firms are poised to leverage GenAI to navigate complexities and deliver enhanced value to their clients efficiently.
Source: tax.thomsonreuters.com

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