TECHNOLOGY

How AI is Changing the Southeast Asian Start-up Landscape

Will artificial intelligence replace human employees? Executives of a food delivery app and a recruitment start-up weigh in.

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BY Melissa G. Bagamasbad - 07 Dec 2017

AI

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Artificial intelligence, or the use of computer systems to do tasks that normally require human intelligence, is creating a lot of buzz these days. Some say human employees will have to constantly be on their toes and keep on upgrading their skills, for they might be replaced by AI one day. But will this technology completely replace manpower?

Two AI-powered start-ups share their views.

 

Artificial intelligence is making recruitment much faster and accurate

Aivin Solatorio, Senior Manager for Research and Development of Kalibrr, a job-hunting platform, says that in the case of their start-up, AI performs more efficiently versus traditional recruitment. He says AI “removes the laborious task of scouring for candidates.”

“The industry standard of just looking for qualified candidates takes about 7-14 days. Our AI can do this in a matter of seconds,” he explains.

Kalibrr has recently come up with the AI-powered Kalibrr Pro, launched last November. Solatorio explains the step-by-step process AI Pro works. This begins with account managers getting a comprehensive assessment of client’s needs and meeting with them to learn about the in-depth job description such as the qualities of the ideal candidate, preferred interview questions for the candidate, and the like. These requirements are then passed on to Kalibrr’s internal expert recruiters.

“As the ones who directly interface with our AI, they’re trained to curate the talent based on these needs,” he says.

The technology then performs Deep Learning where an internal sourcing tool scours the Kalibrr database of one million jobseekers.  The AI will then read and understand the text, match important data points between job descriptions and candidate profiles, and rank shortlisted candidates — which will be presented to in-house recruiters.

“[The recruiters] can accept or reject candidates based on their practical experience, and the AI learns even further from this (among many factors) in order to make better recommendations in the future,” says Solatorio. “Recruiters then perform additional pre-assessment of candidates — interviews, skills testing, etc.  Once the candidate is deemed qualified, we perform endorsements to the client for their final vetting.”

Julius Paras, Senior Vice President and Philippine Country Manager of Kalibrr, says that they plan to implement Kalibrr Pro in both the Philippines and Indonesia — the two countries where Kalibrr is present.

 

Chatbots and drone technology team up in food delivery

Singapore-based food delivery app Foodpanda plans to use chatbots in an effort to reduce waiting time for customers.

 “The bots will answer questions that are easy to answer such as the usual ones like ‘Where’s my food?’ or ‘Where’s my rider?’” says Luc Andreani, Managing Director of Foodpanda Singapore.

He says they plan to make the chatbot as intelligent as possible, even if it may have typos. He adds that if the conversation between customer and bot becomes complex, the transition from chatbot to human would be seamless so the customer won’t notice the shift.

He explains that they plan to pilot the chatbot in Malaysia and Singapore, and believes the chatbot will allow them to absorb demand during holidays and other peak seasons.

Foodpanda, which is also present in the Philippines and Malaysia, is also currently developing drone technology which it plans to release in all their market countries in 2018.

Andreani says the reason for this is mostly to widen the coverage of food deliveries. He adds that in most markets in the world, there are restrictions for commercial drones, so in Singapore they are working with authorities.

“We plan to do [this technology] in traffic-ridden countries like the Philippines to solve congestion,” says Andreani.

 

AI is mostly an enhancement, not a replacement

According to Andreani, AI will help provide better service but at a low cost. “It’s just an enhancement, not a replacement of humans,” he clarifies. “There’s an implication in the number of jobs, though…The low-skilled laborers will be replaced by AI.”

For Kalibrr, “The AI is really there just to aid human employees and not replace them,” says Solatorio. “After all, the typical recruiter spends four hours per day just sourcing and identifying candidates. The AI removes this tedious, administrative task from their routine in order to free them to do what they do best: form connections with candidates. We recognize that in order to do recruitment well, a human touch is integral.”

“The AI paradigm that we see spreading globally — and the one by which we also stand by — is the concept of ‘upskilling.’ Essentially, AI replaces the manual labor involved in certain roles and automates it. Instead of killing jobs or replacing employees, it simply opens knowledge, works up to further specialization in their jobs. By taking the manual labor out of the job equation, they can grow in their professions by getting better at the tasks that a machine couldn’t do: from interviewing more effectively to forming better connections,” explains Gian Villaluz, Product Manager for Kalibrr Pro.

Paras says that they have more plans to use AI for Kalibrr in the future. “In terms of product, we’re excited about what our AI could perform in terms of analyzing candidate profiles and responses, and using these to predict future candidate performance,” he says.