Newsroom

May 26 2017
Media Inquiries

Daniela Zuin
Director of Marketing
daniela.zuin@ipsoft.com
US: +1 212 708 5521
UK: +44 (0) 7917 678 709

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Rob Petrucelli
Director of Analyst Relations
robert.petrucelli@ipsoft.com
US: +1 212 708 5518

Press Releases

Digital Labor Company, IPsoft to Unveil Most Human Artificial Intelligence (AI) To-Date, June 1st in New York

May 4, 2017

IPsoft hosts Inaugural Digital Workforce Summit, gathering business leaders and industry visionaries to shape best practice in managing the workforce of the future. NEW YORK, May 4, 2017-- IPsoft, the leading digital labor company, today announced that it will unveil Amelia 3.0, the most human artificial intelligence (AI) to-date at its inaugural Digital Workforce Summit, on June 1, 2017. The company’s latest version of Amelia breaks new ground in mimicking human intelligence through AI. The Summit will feature speakers from more than 22 of the world’s leading banks, insurers, telecom providers and healthcare firms, who will share..

Digital Labor Company, IPsoft to Unveil Most Human Artificial Intelligence (AI) To-Date, June 1st in New York

May 4, 2017

IPsoft hosts Inaugural Digital Workforce Summit, gathering business leaders and industry visionaries to shape best practice in managing the workforce of the future. NEW YORK, May 4, 2017-- IPsoft, the leading digital labor company, today announced that it will unveil Amelia 3.0, the most human artificial intelligence (AI) to-date at its inaugural Digital Workforce Summit, on June 1, 2017. The company’s latest version of Amelia breaks new ground in mimicking human intelligence through AI. The Summit will feature speakers from more than 22 of the world’s leading banks, insurers, telecom providers and healthcare firms, who will share their experience of driving digital transformation through the deployment of Amelia. Visit the event website for a full list of such pioneering speakers. The event will also mark the opening of IPsoft’s Cognitive Innovation Center. Spanning ten floors in downtown New York, the Center is dedicated to building next generation cognitive solutions which are becoming the cornerstone of competitive strategy for the AI economy. During their visit to the Center, attendees will be able to speak directly to Amelia and learn how new advances in digital labor can interact and integrate with human co-workers to deliver compelling results. “To drive improvements in customer experience, only AI that most closely resembles human intelligence can deliver real value,” said IPsoft Chief Executive Officer and President, Chetan Dube. “Amelia 3.0 is emblematic of the birth of such technology. This is a significant moment for IPsoft as we enter into a new paradigm for integrating digital labor with human teams.”

    • Leading industry experts will be joined by pre-eminent AI scholars to debate the social and economic implications of digital labor as the world adapts to embrace the full potential of artificial intelligence. Speakers will include:
    • Professor Nick Bostrom, Oxford University, who has led the global ethics discussion on the need for policies to protect humanity in the face of an emergent superintelligence.
    • Professor Tom Davenport, Babson College, whose highly acclaimed book ‘Only Humans Need Apply’ is shaping management thinking about future hybrid workforces and other AI scenarios.
Dube will provide the opening keynote showcasing the next step in AI’s evolution with an introduction to Amelia 3.0. Attendees to this invitation-only event will also be able to experience IPsoft’s digital city spanning an entire floor, where executives can transport themselves into a world in which cognitive agents are on hand to simplify our lives and help us become more productive. To learn more, or to be considered for an invitation, please visit the Digital Workforce Summit home page. About IPsoft IPsoft automates IT and business processes for enterprises across a wide range of industries by deploying digital labor. Through its portfolio of world leading autonomic and cognitive solutions it provides services that allow its clients to secure competitive advantage. Headquartered in New York City, IPsoft has offices in 18 countries across the world and serves more than 500 of the world’s leading brands directly as well as more than half of the world’s largest IT services providers. Read more about IPsoft Amelia at: www.ipsoft.com/amelia Media Contacts: Daniela Zuin Marketing Director daniela.zuin@ipsoft.com 212-708-5521 Finn Partners for IPsoft Erica McDonald 646.202.9784 Erica.McDonald@finnpartners.com


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Press Releases

IPsoft’ Amelia wins coveted 2017 AI award from AIconics

May 10, 2017

LONDON, May 10, 2017 — IPsoft’s cognitive agent, Amelia, has been declared the winner of the AIconics Best Intelligent Assistant Innovation award. The award was..

IPsoft’ Amelia wins coveted 2017 AI award from AIconics

May 10, 2017

LONDON, May 10, 2017 — IPsoft’s cognitive agent, Amelia, has been declared the winner of the AIconics Best Intelligent Assistant Innovation award. The award was presented at the end of the first day of one of London’s largest AI events, the AI Summit, gathering together more than 1,000 CXOs. The AIconics Awards are judged by a panel of leading AI experts that include academics and enterprise end-users from all over the world. The judges for the Best Intelligent Assistant Innovation category reviewed entries across multiple criteria ranging from ease-of-use and experience for customers through to demonstrable return on investment (ROI) offered to companies implementing the solution. At each phase of the judging, Amelia demonstrated her robust cognitive capabilities as a virtual agent and in particular, her capacity to factor in human emotion and gain a contextual understanding of language as she seamlessly communicated with customers. This gave her a significant edge over other competing product entries. “We are delighted to have won this highly-contested category of the AIconics Awards,” said Edwin van Bommel, Chief Cognitive Officer at IPsoft. “Businesses seeking to differentiate themselves from their competition see customer engagement as an area where a strong competitive advantage can be established early and Amelia is proving to play a critical role in delivering a superior customer experience.” Amelia is now being deployed in more than 40 of the world’s leading brands across a wide range of industries including banking, insurance, healthcare, telecommunications, leisure and government. Her roles span many different functions from customer service and advisor support to IT service desk and procurement. About IPsoft IPsoft automates IT and business processes for enterprises across a wide range of industries by deploying digital labor. Through its portfolio of world leading autonomic and cognitive solutions it provides services that allow its clients to secure competitive advantage. Headquartered in New York City, IPsoft has offices in 18 countries across the world and serves more than 500 of the world’s leading brands directly as well as more than half of the world’s largest IT services providers. Read more about IPsoft Amelia at: www.ipsoft.com/amelia Contact IPsoft Daniela Zuin, +001 212 708 5521 Marketing Director, IPsoft daniela.zuin@ipsoft.com


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Opinion

The One Question to ask when evaluating Chatbots and Cognitive Virtual Agents

Allan Andersen, Director of Enterprise Solutions, IPsoft | May 2, 2017

Comparing marketing messages when it comes to fast moving markets is always difficult and at IPsoft we often get asked how Amelia compares to xyz vendor(s). What makes..

The One Question to ask when evaluating Chatbots and Cognitive Virtual Agents

Allan Andersen, Director of Enterprise Solutions, IPsoftMay 2, 2017

Comparing marketing messages when it comes to fast moving markets is always difficult and at IPsoft we often get asked how Amelia compares to xyz vendor(s). What makes these comparisons especially challenging is a limited understanding of what lies beneath the surface of natural language understanding (NLU) and other AI technologies. Recently, my esteemed colleague Parit Patel, wrote a very insightful blog on this topic focusing on contextual comprehension of chat bots and virtual agents and provided several practical examples. In this blog, I would like to take that discussion a bit further, but from a different angle. In my opinion, the simplest way to describe the difference between chat bots and virtual agents, and to a potential adopter, decide which is the better option, is to ask one single question: What problem or use-cases is the vendor trying to solve with their solution? There could be many answers, such as:

  • Assisting customers with frequently asked questions (FAQs)
  • Driving customers to hard-to-find web-pages for self-help
  • Perform quick remediation to common problems
Because of our heritage with Virtual Engineers in IPcenter, which generally work completely autonomous from human involvement, we decided to solve a much more complex challenge with Amelia.  
We set out to build a Cognitive Platform capable of working as an Enhanced Human Agent servicing customers through natural conversations.
  I will get to the “Enhanced” part later, but let us first examine what it really takes to work as a human agent in the service center role. First, you would need to understand the customer’s intent or in essence, pinpoint the exact nature of a customer’s problem. Although it may appear to be a straight-forward task, most customers are rarely direct in their explanations and tend to provide long stories before they get to the point of their request. They also may not use the correct words to describe the situation or problem. So, a cognitive agent working as a human would need to:
  • Disambiguate and clarify to get the right context of the problem.
  • Perform Co-Referencing to understand what “it” and “they” actually refer to in the context of a conversation.
  • Ask questions using determined context, and incorporate clarifying words and phrases from the customer’s previous responses.
Secondly, you would need to deal with the complexities of a customer’s request, which is often non-linear and unpredictable.
  • Revisiting and changing information already provided during the session, i.e. “I changed my mind, send me the yellow one instead”. This happens all the time in real life customer interactions.
  • Changing topics or asking questions in the middle of following a standard process, i.e. “Do you accept AMEX?”--needs to be handled seamlessly.
  • Recognizing pieces of information provided earlier in a conversation which may need to be used later on as a part of resolving the customer’s issue.
 
 Doing one of these things might be simple, but doing all of the at the same time becomes increasingly complex.
  Thirdly, you would need to humanize the conversations to make them pleasant and guide the dialogue appropriately.
  • Recognizing sentiment – both positive and negative - and use this emotional information to sympathize with the customer during a conversation.
  • Using “social talk” to handle out-of-context situations and converse differently with customers who speak informally.
  • Leveraging sentiment to make informed decisions regarding escalations to human agents or provide offers to upsell a customer new services.
 
 Again, all these inputs need to be analyzed, correlated and combined dynamically into dialogue with the customer to create a seamless experience
  Finally, the “Enhanced” part, is all about performing a customer service function better than a human agent. There are some obvious and non-obvious aspects to this.
  • It is obvious that a virtual cognitive agent can be faster than a human especially in handling a request immediately to serve the customer exclusively. For instance, if you have ever chatted with an online human representative and waited 40-50 seconds for a response at every turn of the conversation, you will understand this “Enhanced” part of a cognitive virtual agent.
  • To complete transactions, Amelia is integrated into backend systems and accesses information in milliseconds by scouring existing records to pinpoint what the customer is inquiring about, i.e. “Are you contacting us about the delayed flight and your connection?”--something that advanced IVRs solutions are also starting to do.
  • Less obvious is what we call “Visually-Enhanced Dialogue”. For Amelia, this basically means that she can control the UI (user interface) and thereby influence user experience – whether through mobile or over the web – to guide and explain situations in a visual way. The information controlled by Amelia can be dynamic based on the conversation and options available.
In addition to the above, Amelia has several unique capabilities which make her more human, such as Natural Language process creation (learning) through observation of other agents and her Episodic Memory, which allows her to recall similar conversations in the past to better assist customers both in terms of answering queries or resolving issues faster and more accurately than before. What is next for Amelia? See for yourself at our Inaugural Digital Workforce Summit in New York City. Amelia’s latest enhancements, which were engineered from IPsoft’s Cognitive Innovation Laboratory, will be showcased at our Digital Workforce Summit event taking place on June 1st. The objective is and continues to be developing and incorporating those unique human nuances that are so understated in conversations, yet make all the difference to customers in live interactions. Amelia’s already-impressive cognitive capabilities, from her ability to learn through observation to her episodic memory, are impacting businesses profoundly from a financial and operational standpoint. It isn’t difficult to imagine the magnitude of Amelia’s current and potential business impact when you consider how she can unburden customer service departments from handling high-volume, low-level issues and her cost-effectiveness in terms of training. Early adopters of CVA’s (cognitive virtual agents) like Amelia are creating a blueprint of standard best practices and business roadmaps for future implementers of this AI-driven technology. Some of these trailblazing companies will be presenting what they’ve discovered at our Digital Workforce Summit. They’ll be relaying a belief that has picked up steam in recent times and that is: the future of customer service lies in the coexistence and seamless collaboration of human and virtual agents.


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Opinion

5 Signs of an Overworked IT Department

Eric Sheedy, Executive Director of Operations, IPsoft | April 26, 2017

IT plays a major role in keeping the wheels of business churning throughout an organization. Yet, when it’s time to mitigate company-wide operational costs, IT..

5 Signs of an Overworked IT Department

Eric Sheedy, Executive Director of Operations, IPsoftApril 26, 2017

IT plays a major role in keeping the wheels of business churning throughout an organization. Yet, when it’s time to mitigate company-wide operational costs, IT departments are one of the first to have their resources cut back. Even with these cutbacks in place, IT departments are still held to the same performance and responsiveness standards as before. This is the most common recipe for an overworked IT department and it is an issue that is being faced by CTO’s and CIO’s across a variety of industries today. As with any business problem, there are symptoms of an overworked IT department that can be identified early on to help companies determine whether they’re in need of an IT automation solution or have to outsource additional IT support. If several of the following situations I am about to describe sound familiar, you can examine these symptoms in more detail to diagnose the pain points in your IT department accurately and then, of course, take the right steps to alleviate the work stress of your staff members.

  1. Low Employee Morale
A dip in employee satisfaction levels often correlates directly to an influx of disproportionate work—disproportionate because such an amount of work calls for greater labor and technical resources than are currently available. Most understaffed IT departments can “weather the storm” so to speak for some time, but if a department’s workload remains consistently heavy over a period of time, chances are it’ll drain the morale of its employees. This type of work environment is conducive towards an increased turnover rate. Ultimately, employees will either decide to join another organization’s IT department, burn themselves out trying to save the day—also known as the “hero effect”—or stay long enough to see their overall performance levels decline and end up being let go. This is the first red flag that should be noted by IT managers.
  1. Shift in Performance
Once low employee morale has taken hold, it doesn’t take long before an IT department’s performance levels start to go down. The key metrics that tend to suffer first are average resolution time, first response speed and how many tickets are carrying over day-to-day. A lack of employee enthusiasm is a part of decreased departmental performance, but at the same time, IT employees can be working as quickly as they can and still not meet respectable performance metrics because of the unrelenting amount of tickets making their way into a department. Simply put, a large enough workload can counter all the individual efforts of team members. And, working at an accelerated pace opens the door for errors, which can further backlog an already-extensive IT ticket queue.
  1. Increased Short-Sightedness
Aside from having difficulty keeping up with IT tickets on a day-to-day basis, overworked IT departments will find it next to impossible to keep large projects from getting delayed because labor resources can only stretch so far. Given that day-to-day IT responsibilities are running in parallel with other ongoing assignments, more and more project tasks will continue to be placed on a mounting to-do list. These relegated projects are generally long-term and are vital in keeping an IT department’s infrastructure agile and on par with a company’s evolving business strategy. Putting off these kinds of projects is a sure sign that there’s been a shift in department ideology from establishing greater operability in the future to strictly working in the present.
  1. A Professional Step Back
Not only are infrastructure changes of an IT organization placed on the back burner, but overworked IT departments also relegate the continued training and enhancement of their staff’s IT skillset to a later date. In an overworked IT department there simply is no time to nurture IT talent because the focus of every day is to address as many tickets and related issues as possible. Staff members are stuck in their current roles out of operational necessity and this fuels employee dissatisfaction and further contributes to a higher turnover rate. How are employees supposed to grow professionally if they are handling high-quantity, repetitive L1 issues as soon as they walk in the door?
  1. Disregard for Protocol
In addition to trading in a department’s long-term viability to complete immediate tasks, another side effect of an overworked department lies in the manner in which short-term tasks are handled. With all the standard protocols in place to ensure IT tickets go through all the necessary channels on their way to resolution, the pressure being exerted on IT staff to resolve issues quickly coerces them into moments where bypassing these protocols becomes second nature. These processes have been devised to act as a safety net in the event a resolution process turns convoluted and strays from the path of successful completion. Once a department begins to deviate from standard protocol such as recording the progress of a ticket, for instance, it becomes time-consuming to retrace the steps of a failed resolution process and in return affects the performance metrics of the whole department. Each of the symptoms described above are in many ways interrelated and carry a snowball effect, which can end up costing an organization significant dollars if they aren’t detected promptly and an effective solution is implemented. Today, companies are still trying to determine how many IT professionals are necessary to maintain peak performance levels within an IT department without sacrificing too much in operational costs. Before simply pursuing ways to increase staff or offload tasks to offshore teams, it’s wise to take a deeper look at automation technologies that can streamline the workload. Examine the potential for automating common L1 and L2 issues to alleviate the daily pressure on your staff and open the door to smarter allocation of onsite labor.  Not only will you improve departmental efficiency, you’ll also make it possible to create the headroom for more challenging and stimulating roles for your staff.


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Opinion

Lessons Learned by Early Virtual Agent Adopters

Allan Andersen, Director of Enterprise Solutions, IPsoft | April 13, 2017

Let’s be honest here—advanced AI technology such as digital labor carries incredible potential for increasing and sustaining an organization’s competitive..

Lessons Learned by Early Virtual Agent Adopters

Allan Andersen, Director of Enterprise Solutions, IPsoftApril 13, 2017

Let’s be honest here—advanced AI technology such as digital labor carries incredible potential for increasing and sustaining an organization’s competitive advantage, but it’s not a “plug and play” technology either. The IT business environments where virtual agents can thrive are complex and as such, there are some adjustments that need to take place before “reaping the spoils”, so to speak. Similar to the way 15th century European explorers set out into a vastly unknown world seeking better trade routes, early adopters of virtual agents are also embarking on a journey into the unknown to gain greater insights into the application of AI within their business models. Trailblazers like SEB Bank, UBS and other companies are forging a new path in the way business operations can be handled and at the same time, are recording their new learnings as they go. They’ve engaged in a pilot program that is in production to learn about the installation process of virtual agents and the different business areas they can impact once they’re implemented. The early adopters I’ve mentioned above have shared some of their CVA (cognitive virtual agent) learnings and here are some of the more important ones to point out as other businesses consider initiating a CVA pilot program of their own. Set your virtual agent up for success. Across each of these use cases, clients stressed the importance of implementing your CVA where its cognitive capabilities can flourish and eliminate real pain points for employees, customers or both. Ideally, the pilot program should be centered around a service that will ultimately require some degree of enterprise scalability because its business impact will be more profound once a full CVA rollout is in effect. Establish the collaborative dynamics of your hybrid workforce. All the adopters used this exploratory program as a good time to determine how human and virtual agents would collaborate in order to enhance the customer’s overall service experience. Depending on the industry and business process, a virtual agent could handle a repetitive customer issue and escalate it to a representative when appropriate. In addition, adopters can also deploy virtual agents in strictly an assisted intelligence capacity to help human agents quickly pull up client information. These are decisions that should be made during this pilot phase so large-scale deployments can happen without complications. Get the C-Suite onboard. SEB Bank, a major financial institution, has so far observed that the strong support of C-level executives is vital in order to keep CVA projects progressing in the right direction. To garner this support, CVA project leads need to communicate to C-level executives that virtual agents are intended to be long-term business investments and generally do not provide short-term gains. The purpose of cognitive virtual agents is to transform the manner in which business operations are conducted so that companies can run more efficiently and cost-effectively. For such a technological shift to occur, executive-level management need to stand behind this transformative vision and amend their thought leadership in order to win over resisting parties. Know your target audience. An online gaming company quickly realized that given their particular customer service needs, the virtual agent they deployed would have to interact naturally with customers before it could begin to yield positive business results. After introducing a virtual agent to a select portion of their customers, mainly comprised of online gamers, they noticed a drop in customer satisfaction levels. For instance, when a gamer used words like “fuzzy” or “messy” to describe their issue, the virtual agent would ask them for his/her email address. By identifying these interactive, natural language discrepancies in this exploratory phase, and correcting them afterwards, customer acceptance rates of the virtual agent increased. They employed an agile training method for their CVA—a series of trial and error actions—and gradually boosted customer satisfaction levels. Understanding the training demands of your virtual agent ahead of time will start to shape a company’s best practices for future CVA implementations. Communicate the benefits of virtual agents to employees clearly. SEB Bank found that informing employees about the benefits of a CVA in a way that appeals to their professional development was particularly effective in lowering their staff’s initial apprehension. Their messaging included the following benefits:

  • They would no longer be tasked with manual, repetitive work; virtual agents would now take this over.
  • Going forward, employees would handle higher priority issues and in the process develop new business skills.
  • The inclusion of a CVA into the workforce would naturally open up AI-centric roles dedicated to their ongoing maintenance and training.
Testing out virtual agents in a live yet controlled environment delivers first-time adopters a wealth of knowledge—from figuring out the best approach in introducing a digital worker to staff and customers to taking note of the obvious pitfalls in the implementation of a CVA. Ultimately organizations that are exploring the business value of AI and rethinking their approach to business operations now are maximizing their competitive advantage down the road. With the increasing influence and popularity of AI in business circles, the cost of not “testing the waters” with cognitive virtual agents might exceed the cost of investing early in digital labor.


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