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Is AI replacing Architects?

Architecture is perhaps the most complex discipline operating in more dimensions than any other coordinated human activity. However with the advancement of artificial intelligence, like every other profession, architects to are worried about the level of automation that has already taken away specific tasks from their roles.

While the ‘Humans are hooked and Machines are learning’, AI and ML are disrupting all manner of industries. Although AI has taken decades to go from crazy lab demos to a finished consumer product — today, there are immense possibilities for the industry to be augmented and enhanced by artificial intelligence. 

The earliest sense of advancement in the construction field came with Building Information Modelling (BIM) — a term that has existed since the 1970s, but came to its penultimate fore in the early 2000s, when Autodesk began popularizing the tag. 

The resulting by-product was the BIM software which is a type of intelligent 3D-modelling process used by architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) practitioners to design and construct any kind of infrastructure. BIM software includes computer-aided design (CAD software) tools and libraries specifically targeted toward architectural design and construction and goes beyond traditional drawings to generate a fully digital model. 

Over several years the BIM (Building Information Modelling) software has had a huge influence on the day-to-day operations undertaken in an architectural firm

The Parametric design or the programming architecture can scrape through several design styles in no time and can come up with a perfect Zaha style building plan — that would otherwise take years to be designed. 

Over the last few decades, BIM has transformed the roles of engineers, contractors, architects, developers, and consultants by allowing them to communicate the same language and collaborate better. It has quite literally revolutionized both the design process itself and the designs themselves. 

BIM software produces an immense volume of big data, so much so that most architecture firms and their consulting partners don’t know what to do with them. Once AI permeated the technological landscape and bled over into every imaginable business use case — the industry learned to create value by collecting, organizing and storing building-related data (collected from models, simulations, etc.) It is now widely believed, that the scope for innovating the most optimal designs for each construction project becomes completely conceivable.

AI BIM = Optimized [Affinity]

When ‘parametric design’ technology is combined with AI that can actually use 6D BIM-models, and can record the whole life cycle of the building — it can come up with better decisions and insights into project execution by learning from the mistakes of the past.

Today, there are machines that can run through an infinite number of datasets, simulate for each model, pick the best option, verify its efficiency and continue to learn and communicate when introduced with the new autonomous building technology.

AI is the next frontier for architecture
Changes in the demographics, technology and business models have opened up a plethora of far-reaching opportunities for architects to explore areas like urban housing in more ecosystems than ever before.

Let’s have a look at some architectural products augmented and enhanced by AI.

Road Printers
The six meters wide machine that can pave entire streets at once. Naturally, the stones fall on the road directly into the appropriate pattern. The device is simple to handle and can finish the work in no time.

Concrete 3D Printers
3D printing as a core method to fabricate buildings or construction components. At a construction scale, it will have a wide variety of applications within the private, commercial, industrial and public sectors. The concrete 3D printers enable faster construction, lower labor costs, increased accuracy, greater integration of function and less waste produced.

Brick Laying Machine
The bot can lay between 300 to 400 bricks an hour, compared to a human which can only lay around 60 to 75 bricks an hour. It works 5 times faster than a human and can alleviate the labor shortage.

Brick Laying & 3D Printing Concrete Drone
Though in its infancy, researchers from Imperial College London have taken the first step towards making this a reality with their work on a drone that is able to ‘3D print’ while it is in flight.

However efficient bots may be, it will always lag in understanding the personality and the character of the customer — and this is where humans intervene.

Architects with the help of AI can create something different from the one-size-fits-all range of products already in the marketplace, to create more personalized solutions that perfectly align with user needs — but it is the imperfections in our creative decisions that truly makes something personal and truly unique.

What is your opinion about AI in architecture? Do you think AI will either augment or eliminate every profession in the near future?

Let us know by commenting.

To know us in person, reach us on hello@mantralabsglobal.com  

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Retention playbook for Insurance firms in the backdrop of financial crises

4 minutes read

Belonging to one of the oldest industries in the world, Insurance companies have weathered multiple calamities over the years and have proven themselves to be resilient entities that can truly stand the test of time. Today, however, the industry faces some of its toughest trials yet. Technology has fundamentally changed what it means to be an insurer and the cumulative effects of the pandemic coupled with a weak global economic output have impacted the industry in ways both good and bad.

Chart, line chart

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Source: Deloitte Services LP Economic Analysis

For instance, the U.S market recorded a sharp dip in GDP in the wake of the pandemic and it was expected that the economy would bounce back bringing with it a resurgent demand for all products (including insurance) across the board. It must be noted that the outlook toward insurance products changed as a result of the pandemic. Life insurance products were no longer an afterthought, although profitability in this segment declined over the years. Property-and-Casualty (P&C) insurance, especially motor insurance, continued to be a strong driver, while health insurance proved to be the fastest-growing segment with robust demand from different geographies

Simultaneously, the insurance industry finds itself on the cusp of an industry-wide shift as technology is starting to play a greater role in core operations. In particular, technologies such as AI, AR, and VR are being deployed extensively to retain customers amidst this technological and economic upheaval.

Double down on digital

For insurance firms, IT budgets were almost exclusively dedicated to maintaining legacy systems, but with the rise of InsurTech, it is imperative that firms start dedicating more of their budgets towards developing advanced capabilities such as predictive analytics, AI-driven offerings, etc. Insurance has long been an industry that makes extensive use of complex statistical and mathematical models to guide pricing and product development strategies. By incorporating the latest technological advances with the rich data they have accumulated over the years, insurance firms are poised to emerge stronger and more competitive than ever.

Using AI to curate a bespoke customer experience

Insurance has always been a low-margin affair and success in the business is primarily a function of selling the right products to the right people and reducing churn as much as possible. This is particularly important as customer retention is normally conceived as an afterthought in most industries, as evidenced in the following chart.

Chart, sunburst chart

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        Source: econconusltancy.com

AI-powered tools (even with narrow capabilities) can do wonders for the insurance industry at large. When architected in the right manner, they can be used to automate a bulk of the standardized and automated processes that insurance companies have. AI can be used to automate and accelerate claims, assess homeowner policies via drones, and facilitate richer customer experiences through sophisticated chatbots. Such advances have a domino effect of increasing CSAT scores, boosting retention rates, reducing CACs, and ultimately improving profitability by as much as 95%.

Crafting immersive products through AR/VR

Customer retention is largely a function of how good a product is, and how effective it is in solving the customers’ pain points. In the face of increasing commodification, insurance companies that go the extra mile to make the buying process more immersive and engaging can gain a definite edge over competitors.

Globally, companies are flocking to implement AR/VR into their customer engagement strategies as it allows them to better several aspects of the customer journey in one fell swoop. Relationship building, product visualization, and highly personalized products are some of the benefits that AR/VR confers to its wielders.  

By honoring the customer sentiments of today and applying a slick AR/VR-powered veneer over its existing product layer, insurance companies can cater to a younger audience (Gen Z) by educating them about insurance products and tailoring digital delivery experiences. This could pay off in the long run by building a large customer base that could be retained and served for a much longer period.

The way forward

The Insurance industry is undergoing a shift of tectonic proportions as an older generation makes way for a new and younger one that has little to no perceptions about the industry. By investing in next-generation technologies such as AR/VR, firms can build new products to capture this new market and catapult themselves to leadership positions simply by way of keeping up with the times.

We have already seen how AR is a potential game-changer for the insurance industry. It is only a matter of time before it becomes commonplace.

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