Mathieu Leblanc
Senior Manager | Ing., M. Ing., MBB | Tax

As a member of Yoshua Bengio’s lab in Montréal, Canada, Grégoire completed his PhD in Deep Learning, while collaborating closely with research teams at Google, Microsoft and Facebook, in the US.

Grégoire is now working on his second venture based in Paris and Montréal. His consulting firm, Incalia, builds custom Machine and Deep Learning solutions for companies where the client owns the IP. The team works on a wide variety of solutions, from analyzing medical image to integrating user feedback into search engines. He and his team mentor Data Science teams want to become proficient in Deep Learning.

When I asked him, Grégoire gladly accepted to answer some questions about his field of interest, which I find fascinating.

How do Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine & Deep Learning bring value to companies?

AI is relevant and very useful for organizations that would like to streamline a human decision process into an automated process at scale. Today, machines are reaching an accuracy equal or superior to human performance on certain tasks. AI is creating value in diverse markets by allowing new ways of collaborating between traditional wisdom and algorithms. AI is or will be present in most industries, with applications as varied as self-driving trucks to detecting early stage cancers.

What is the difference between Machine Learning and Deep Learning?

Research and industry have made huge progress over the last three decades in the field of Machine Learning, but Deep Learning is now adding on another significant layer of change. Deep Learning allows machines to bridge the perceptual gap. In the past, it was hard to extract the best characteristics from sensory input like images, sounds or even texts into machine-readable format. Now, the machine can automatically learn the features that are most suited for the challenge being tackled.

Another advantage of Deep Learning is versatility. The high-level architecture of Deep Learning is composed of plug and play blocks that can be easily combined. For instance, you have two algorithms: one can generate text from a large, unstructured set of text and the other one can easily detect an object in an image. You can plug those two models together and obtain an algorithm that will automatically generate textual captions for images, given the detected objects in the image.

With AI and DL being more and more introduced in our daily lives, should we be scared that robots will take over?

Machines are still dumb. Indeed, they can become extremely competitive when world-renowned scientists spend significant time working on a complex problem, as we recently realized it with the Go Game victory of AlphaGo versus a world-class human champion. This victory heavily relied on human input, as numerous sequences from expert human player games were fed into the machine during its training process. So, we are currently very far away from a computer that we feed with minimal data, and that becomes intelligent by itself.

In nature, animals and plants adapt and learn very quickly from their environment, showing a form of intelligence that we cannot find in machines.


Explore this fascinating topic in greater depth.

Here are some ideas:

16 Jan 2017  |  Written by :

Mr. Leblanc is a senior director at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton. He is your expert in taxation for...

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Sylvain Moreau
Partner | FCPA, FCGA, Pl. Fin., D. Fisc., TEP | Tax

It is generally known that the accrued gain on your principal residence is not taxable.

Without necessarily getting into the details, an individual who sells his residence knows that he is not required to report anything in his tax return and generally has no tax to pay.

If, however, you have more than one residence where each can be designated as a principal residence, a prescribed form (T2091) must be prepared to establish the portion of the gain that could be taxable. It’s not always necessary to send this form to the tax authorities. To address this lack of information and control, with very little fanfare, the federal tax authorities have introduced new rules for improving observation and administration of the tax system in this regard. Since there’s a risk of changes and certain surprises for taxpayers who do not follow these, it’s worth looking at them.

New obligations

Gone are the days when you could sell your residence without notifying the tax authorities. According to the new provisions, you will have to comply with disclosure obligations (starting with your 2016 tax return), if you disposed of your residence since January 1, 2016. To the extent that you lived in your residence for each of the years where you were the owner, the gain could be totally exempt and no tax be required. Up to here, nothing has changed.

However, you will henceforth have to report the acquisition year, the sale price and a description of the property. This means that if you have more than one dwelling and the property sold cannot be designated as your principal residence for each of the years you owned it, you will have to complete the prescribed form (T2091) to calculate the tax-free and taxable portions.

Don’t forget to declare the sale, otherwise…

Unless you declare the sale of your residence during the year, you will not be able to benefit from the exemption for a principal residence, such that the profit realized (called capital gain) will be taxable.

If you forget to declare the disposition and to designate it as a principal residence in the year of the sale, it would be in your best interest to ask the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to modify your income tax return and pay a penalty for late filing. This penalty will correspond to the lesser of the following two amounts:

  • $100 per late month calculated since the filing deadline;
  • $8,000.

Furthermore, individuals who have not reported the sale could be in for another surprise. The period during which the CRA can issue a new assessment (which is currently three years) will be indefinitely extended. The tax authorities will therefore have all the time needed to find delinquent taxpayers.

Tips

  • Make sure you comply with the new disclosures in order to benefit from the exemption for a principal residence;
  • If you forget to declare your principal residence, notify the tax authorities and pay the penalty applicable. It could be less costly than the capital gains tax;
  • Remember: keeping track of the cost of your property and related improvements will help reduce your tax bill;
  • New rules have also been provided if you’re a non-resident of Canada or if you hold a residence in a personal trust;
  • Consult a tax professional to avoid unpleasant surprises.

06 Jan 2017  |  Written by :

Sylvain Moreau is a partner at Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton. He is an expert in taxation for the...

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Jocelyn Théoret
Senior Manager | Eng., MBA, PMP | Management consulting

The customer experience is a hot topic. However, more than simply being a buzzword, it’s an essential business strategy component that can no longer be pushed to the back burner or ignored.

Focussing on the customer experience can in fact help you:

  • Protect your income by fostering loyal customers;
  • Cut the costs associated with customer attrition and acquisition rates;
  • Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your tools, processes and Customer “channels”;
  • Engage your employees thanks to a customer-focussed culture;
  • Foster greater productivity and decrease staff turnover;
  • Stand out from the competition – while copycat risks increase and margins decrease, the customer experience is a differentiating factor.

The customer experience is the result of all the interactions a customer can have with regard to a brand or business, or what the customer has seen and felt. It’s the art of making a positive, long-lasting impression.

Talking about the customer experience emphasizes the rational and emotional benefits underlying the purchase of a service or product rather than simply its characteristics. Therefore, it’s the customer’s perception that counts; you need to modify it to ensure the customer has a positive experience.

Let’s be honest: how well do you really know your customers? What kind of customer experience are you trying to provide? Which emotions are you trying to evoke? What are your customers really looking for? What creates value for your organization? And especially, how focussed is your organization on its clientele?

More loyal customers, enhanced reputation

It’s no longer enough to simply satisfy your customers. You need to make them loyal and encourage them to recommend you so that your organization can reap tangible benefits. Why is this important?

  • Recruiting a new customer costs five times more than retaining an existing one (TARP Institute – USA).
  • A dissatisfied customer will tell about 13 people on average, but only 1 out of 25 will actually contact you to complain;
  • A satisfied customer will tell five people;
  • On average, customer experience leaders achieve greater stock market returns regardless of economic cycles, according to a post entitled Is there a Return on Customer Experience Investments? published on the Watermark Consulting blog.

Where to begin?

With customers of course! First and foremost, is knowing your customers well and having a clear idea of the customer experience you wish to offer.

Make sure to know your customers well, in particular, their needs and expectations, but also their desires and the positive emotions they’re looking for by doing business with you. You even need to pinpoint the stereotypes influencing the perception of your organization and its services which can hinder a memorable customer experience if they’re not broken. This exercise will provide you with clear indications on the customer experience they’re seeking and what they’re expecting (your service attributes) during their journey with you. It’s important to understand that in a B2B situation, the customer is a multifaceted individual, with needs, expectations, desires, emotions and stereotypes that can vary in the fine print. In this case, maintaining close communication at all levels in the organization to be able to deal with these differences will be a winning strategy. This exercise might seem obvious, but even today, few organizations bother to investigate beyond the simple needs and expectations of their clientele…

Assess how your organization performs in the creation of the customer experience your clientele is looking for and that you’re willing to offer.

On the basis of a known, relevant customer experience management model, assess whether your organization is truly focussed on the customer and identify performance gaps in your customer experience management.

On one hand, how is the customer culture within your organization? Does the organization’s leadership foster efforts in this regard? Have you defined and communicated your customer promise or service values to your staff? Are your employees committed to attaining a common goal, which is to better serve the customer?

On the other hand, are your customer experience delivery systems performing and consistent? First, do the employees have a good understanding of the customer experience to be delivered? Are they trained accordingly and do they exhibit the key behaviours of the customer promise? Second, do your work processes, procedures and tools enable your staff to go beyond the call of duty for your customers? Is the physical and virtual environment that you offer in line with the customer experience you’re trying to provide?

Lastly, do your efforts result in actual gains and create value for your organization? Managing the customer experience is not only for being nice to your customers; your organization must be able to reap the benefits. Do you have loyal customers? Would your customers recommend you? Will your brand image and the organization’s reputation be enhanced?

Take action

The issue is not having performance gaps, but rather failing to address them! You need to take action.

You need to implement a program to eliminate gaps in the current customer experience and what you want to offer while paying particular attention to revamping the organization’s customer culture and improving the performance of the three customer experience delivery systems, i.e., employees, organizational processes and systems and the physical and virtual environment. All must be aligned with the experience you want to offer customers. Mapping the customer journey is an excellent way of defining the customer experience in detail at each point of contact between your customers and yourself and to determine improvement methods that will later be used in a bold, yet realistic and sustainable action plan.

Success factors

The first success factor is being able to rely on management’s unconditional commitment. Managers must send a clear message about making the customer experience the corner stone of the business strategy and fostering success in order to motivate the staff to contribute. Improving the customer experience is done through inspirational management and leadership that will engage employees and motivate them to attain this common objective.

Lastly, as more than 70% of customer experience review projects fail at the implementation stage, sufficient efforts must be deployed at that point to ensure the necessary changes are implemented and that improvements last. The active supervision of developments and the use of tools such as scorecards including specific indicators can be useful for increasing the chances of success of a customer experience review project.

Have we convinced you? Are you already on the right path?

06 Dec 2016  |  Written by :

Jocelyn Théoret is your expert in Customer experience (Management Consulting) for the Montréal...

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We are pleased to offer you a webcast on Revenue from Contracts with Customers (IFRS 15).

This session will cover the following topics:

  • The new revenue recognition model;
  • Contract costs, sales including the right of return, license and gross or net sales;
  • Presentation and disclosure;
  • Transition;
  • Planning to implement the standard;

At the end of this training session, you will be able to:

  • explain the basic principles of the new IFRS 15 standard on the recognition of revenue;
  • summarize the different considerations when planning to implement the standard.

For this workshop, our experts include Gilles Henley, Partner and National Director of Professional Standards; Brian Toman, Senior Manager, Risk Management & Accounting Research; and Louise Roy, Senior Manager, Risk Management & Accounting Research.

After watching the webcast, participants may take a test at the end of the session. You will receive a training certificate if two conditions are met:you an swered correctly 3 questions and you listened to at least 80% of the webinar. This training certificate will be applicable to your training hours recognized by the Ordre des CPA du Québec (OCPAQ).

This information session is a courtesy of Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton and will be available in French only.

To access the webcast, please click here: http://www.icastpro.ca/rcgt161124 (use the password : rcgt1124)