Sunday, April 5, 2020
While planning out a new marketing plan for my 20-year old book, I have been professionally interviewed about the purpose of the book, and the market it is targeted for. Quite honestly, I hadn't bothered to write anything down but apparently, I knew how to answer their questions. This one stuck out:
Q. While developing your market positioning, care should be taken to position you in a space that is between non-commercial and commercial. What would you call that space?
A. I don't like the term "Public-Private Partnership" -- it is very often used as a cover to funnel government money (taxpayer money) to individuals who run such entities.
I like to call it the Social Private Sector. No government grants or private donors; the income for running the projects is generated from the projects themselves.
To expand on the context, the Social Private Sector perfectly describes what I have done in my entire career.
My background was my PhD in AI, where I developed AI to recognize the heart walls in CT images, and build a FEM model of each patient's heart that could be put through the paces in a simulation. This, rather than making them go through physical stress tests and the like.
Then I tried applying AI to commerce when I was asked to join Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) personally by its CEO, Mr. FC Kohli. He gave me the task of automating the paper + software processes of Unit Trust of India (UTI). I developed a neural network (named "CRANEUM" -- Character Recognition by Augmented Neural Methods) which involves "augmentation" because real people had to correct the mistakes of the ICR engine.
I later started working with my father's business, but in my spare time I build a document-image enabled workflow system where large jobs of paper processing could be integrated with any commercial application, and correction of the mistakes of any automated system had to be done by real people. AI is not here to replace people. It is here to improve their productivity and move them to higher levels of jobs.
After a few years, in 1995, Citibank approached TCS for a similar kind of system. And someone at TCS sent them to me.
Citibank wanted the workflow to have two operators key each document, and if there was a mismatch it would get sent back through the system again, or to a Supervisor. They wanted to scan all their paper all over their European branches and move all the loan servicing to their Indian operations includeding Sri Lanka and the Philippines. I built what was named ImageCADE (pronounced "image caddy") which met their requirements. It was followed by similar operations for UPS and the UK Dental Practitioners Board.
I then decided to do what my clients' staff do -- the actual outsourcing of business processes that were paper intensive. After many small jobs, I got McKesson Corp for Pharmacy Claims reconciliation, followed by Costco Pharmacy, and many other small pharmacies. Retail Pharmacy is too concentrated a market and all the other big customers had in-house systems or used some other vendor.
So I started doing Medical Billing getting clients from my US base, and executing the jobs using my Indian back office. At least to hedge my exposure to just one sector.
From being an AI techy, I suddenly had to manage over 400 clerical operators. It was a challenge, to say the least. Fortunately, my uncle, Mr. PJ Thomas had just retired from Sundaram Clayton (a giant corp in India), where as President he had won the Deming Award for Total Quality Management (TQM). He said he could implement TQM for an IT / IS operation as well and not just for manufacturing. I was skeptical, but my mind changed when he said that it is not about the management of quality, it is about the quality of management. Each person gets a set of metrics under the general headings of PQDCSM (Productivity, Quality, Delivery (as per Schedule), Cost, Safety (data security for the core application and database, and for remote workers) and Morale (measured by things like employees loving to come to work on time, learning how to manage themselves by managing their own metrics rather than follow the order of their boss, etc.)
I built my Medical Billing business by giving the Doctors all the software they wanted -- Practice Management, EHR compliance, mass customization all for free since if it increased their productivity and income, my income also increased. My internal processes were handled by ImageCADE with real people, but my IT team had a mandate to automate everything possible. AI of any kind makes mistakes (as real people do), so there had to be a number of verification mechanisms done by real people who had experience in the domain. This resulted in Costco Pharmacy collecting 99.9% of the money they billed insurance companies for, when the average in the industry is 92.5%.
So here I was, doing something socially useful: helping doctors and their patients, while making a profit.
I decided to call what I am doing a part of a future "Social Private Sector". No government money, no donors, but a social purpose fulfilled, while making at least the same profit margin as the average private company in the sector.
(After all, I knew all about Wall Street when I was joined by Wall Street investors and Silicon Valley zillionaires who put in some equity in my company and brought me all the major banks that were doing Mortgage Backed Securities and other Asset Backed Securities, and needed exactly that).
As an aside - we even got a patent on the technology. My personal view of Patent Law is that just as "All People are Equal under the Law", all users must be treated equal before a patent, which is an artificially created monopoly. For instance, I would like to license my Patent for 1% of anyone making income out of using it. No need for negotiation or private deals. Just click a button.
So, in my new project -- The Kitcoin Club (http://kitcoin.club), there must be in an increase of skills and hence income for all participants. The funding for:
(a) helping to train anyone who wants to increase their income, and
(b) helping anyone who is willing and capable of training and placement,
will come Wall Street (and its British, European and Japanese counterparts). All investments will be private, and with voluntary financial risk, for both a social purpose and to generate a return on investment.
So what my book is about is what The Kitcoin Club (http://kitcoin.club) is about to do. BTW, KIT stands for Knowledge Investment Tokens which will be an e-currency exactly equal to one US dollar at all times, but can only be used for Job Skills Training, and the Trainer and Trainee have to disclose all income details before and after the training program. That way, the banks can decide precisely where to risk their capital.
That's what I mean by Social Private Sector.
Labels: Social Private Sector
Location: New York, NY, USA
Dr. Karun Philip is the Chairman & CEO and a co-founder of Tranquilmoney. Prior to this, Dr. Philip ran Imagine Technologies, Inc., a company focused on using proprietary imaging and workflow technologies to enable and outsource remote back office operations for the healthcare industries. Dr. Philip has an M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Engineering and Biomedical Engineering from the University of Iowa, and B.E. in Electrical Engineering from Birla Institute of Technology & Science, Pilani, India. Before founding Imagine Technologies, Dr. Philip worked in the R&D center at TCS, India's largest Software Company, in the field of imaging technology.
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