The most "tangible" value of cognitive automation, in today's consumer-centric enterprise, is the use of the virtual agent, where customer engagement is increased without heavy incremental investments in support staff. This isn't about simply replacing a real customer service rep with an avatar, it's augmenting the existing customer experience, usually using the same or similar resources.
For example, if you have a bad travel experience, or purchased a product that wasn't quite what you expected, the chances are you would simply shrug it off and get on with your life - and probably avoid using those same sellers again in the future, if given the choice. However, if those sellers used interactive technologies that were very familiar, or very easy to find and use, where you could simply type in your issue, in your own time, without the need to pick up a phone and wait in some queue (or write some email to some anonymous address), you may just find the effort to input a couple of lines saying "my experience just wasn't that good".
That information is critical to the seller - and how they choose to deal with it could make the difference between them winning out or losing in this market. Just think about how easy Uber, AirBnb, Amazon et al make it for you to deal with them - you will continue to use those services because the digital customer experience is just so much better... they make you feel like they listen. Customers today like effortless interaction, where they just need to click and type what they want in their own time - and what makes it come alive is when they feel they are engaging with someone and not merely sitting in a queue as an open help desk ticket number waiting to be closed.
If you get a chance to kick the tyres with one of the most exciting cognitive virtual agent solutions, IPSoft's Amelia, you start to realize that customer service can be radically improved by incorporating the virtual agent to augment the real one. And the beauty of this is, the sellers do not need to spend huge incremental sums to increase their consumer engagement - they are essentially doing a lot more with what they currently have using smart cognitive technology.
So it's no surprise that I got just a little bit excited when Amelia's mothership enterprise, IPSoft, announced a comprehensive partnership with Accenture to build an industry leading practice in the cognitive customer experience. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this discussion between myself, IPSoft's CEO, Chetan Dube and Accenture's Chief Technology Officer, Paul Dougherty.
Phil Fersht, HfS CEO and Chief Analyst: So let's get straight to the point here, Chetan and Paul. Why have you come together and what is so unique about this partnership?
Paul Daugherty, CTO, Accenture: Hi Phil - great to be here. Let me start and then Chetan can add in. You know that the immediate reasons we've come together, the obvious reason we came together is we see a real market with our enterprise clients for artificial intelligence based solutions. And we've been working with Chetan the team at IPsoft for a while and with Amelia we see a real potential to be at the vanguard of working with IPsoft to pioneer new use cases in terms of using AI to tackle business problems in a new way. So the first reason is we see the market we see the technology being ready. We are excited about what IPsoft has done with Amelia and we see an opportunity. I guess, stepping back from that, this is also to me a very important step in what we are seeing in the evolution of enterprises really transforming to the digital economy.
And Chetan will remember a lunch we had when we met for the very first time. We got very excited as we talked to each other a couple of years ago about what we saw as AI evolved and as the digital technology revolution continued, we saw a point coming where AI would allow companies to really rethink the way that they do business and rethink the way that they conduct business processes within their organizations. And that's I guess why this is such an important relationship from my perspective strategically, because we are starting to see as we move through the digital revolution as we help clients transform they need new approaches and new solutions to deal with the speed of business, to deal with the masses of data that they have, to deal with the new demands that they have as they move to the digital wave. And we see Amelia really serving a purpose there and helping to really rethink and revolutionize the way we conduct some of the business processes. That’s the way I’d answer it. Chetan, I’d be interested in your view on it, too.
Chetan Dube, CEO, IPsoft: Yeah. I would echo what Paul said. Yes, I remember that lunch, Paul, when we had brainstormed. AI is totally disrupting everything. But what is required for true value creation for the companies? Some have realized tremendous value and the others have been somewhat slow to realize value creation in their digital quest. What is required? Well, you do need the digital labor component.
But that's not all that you need. You need business transformation—and Accenture brings business transformation brilliance. And there are many companies that are experts in strategies and there are many companies that are experts in implementation. Accenture is one that amalgamates both. Couple that with cognitive technologies and you have the potential of realizing the true outcomes that were promised by the digital age. So that's what brought us together. How high the technology is going to allow some people to soar is going to be determined by the people who are captaining the ship. And in this case we have an incredible deal of confidence in Paul and his team at Accenture and how much transformation they will be able to bring by harnessing true cognitive abilities together.
Phil: So Chetan, for our global audience which might not be so familiar with Amelia, can you briefly summarize its value and potential? What can Amelia do which other cognitive solutions cannot?