IPsoft hosts CXOTalk with Michael Krigsman and Accenture’s AI Leader Paul Daugherty

As Artificial Intelligence (AI) expands its ability to understand humans and their emotions, the greater the potential benefits when humans and machines work together. This was one of the many insights that emerged during a recent session between veteran industry analyst Michael Krigsman and Paul Daugherty, Chief Technology and Innovation Officer at Accenture. IPsoft had the pleasure of hosting the exchange, the latest in  Krigsman’s renowned CXOTalk series, at our New York City headquarters.

During the course of the wide-ranging conversation, the two thought leaders touched on a variety of AI-related topics, including why humans and machines will need to work together to be successful, how businesses will need to prepare for AI’s influence, and what impact AI will have on human colleagues.

“If we have technologies like Amelia that can communicate with us in very human ways and understanding what we are doing, and even having an emotional intelligence, [an] emotional AI component to them, that’s powerful and allows us to communicate with these machines more effectively,” Daugherty said.

As an IPsoft partner, Accenture develops go-to-market strategies, solutions and consulting service offerings around deployments of virtual agent technology for its clients. Through Amelia and Accenture’s combined capabilities, the partnership has produced substantial business and operations improvements for joint clients. For example:

  • An oil and gas company has trained Amelia to help provide a prompt and more efficient way of answering invoicing queries from its suppliers;
  • A US-based media services organization taught Amelia how to support first-line agents in order to raise the bar for customer service; and
  • A global bank intent on seizing first-mover advantage in its digital strategy has successfully tested Amelia’s ability to support its mortgage broker network by providing guidance on policy details.

Daugherty recently co-authored a book with H. James Wilson, Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of AI, which focuses on the notion that as humans and AI collaborate closely, work processes will become more fluid and adaptive, enabling companies to change them, or reimagine them, on the fly.

“We believe we are moving into a more human [AI] era that emphasizes our human characteristics,” Daugherty said, during the CXOTalk. “It’s about using technology a different way… I strongly believe that the more powerful technology is, and the more human-like the technology is, the more it enhances our ability to be human.”

At IPsoft, we strongly agree with Daugherty’s vision. For example, IPsoft was recently mentioned in The Wall Street Journal for our work with Allstate, the largest publicly held personal lines insurer in the US. Allstate first deployed Amelia last September, and since then she has collaborated with Allstate live agents on more than 3 million calls. Amelia is trained on almost 40 different insurance topics for Allstate, and has lowered call duration from 4.6 to 4.2 minutes. Since she was hired by Allstate, 75% of inquiries have been solved during the first call, compared with 67% prior to Amelia’s hiring. In one month alone, Amelia partnered on almost 250,000 calls. What’s more, 99% of Allstate agents who worked with Amelia said they were completely satisfied with their interactions with her.

“AI is going to allow us to do a lot of things more efficiently and effectively,” said Daugherty. “Where a person is doing something that a software machine can do more easily, those jobs are going to be changed dramatically…Machines can do vast amounts of data analysis that no humans can do. Machines can make predictions, machines can do transactions, things like that, but they can’t replace the human capability we have, which is where the combination comes into play.”

We often see the scenario that Daugherty describes with our Amelia clients.  Amelia certainly absorbs and logs data faster than any human could. She processes mountains of information in an instant. She eliminates repetitious tasks, and can scale as business demand grows. But sometimes there’s a task Amelia can’t complete, or she isn’t legally allowed to do so. No matter how intelligent Amelia becomes, there will always be situations where she’ll need to rely on a human colleague to help her, or to take the task from her entirely. In those instances, while the human colleague is completing the task, Amelia observes and learns: What did her colleague do that she didn’t? Could she have accomplished this task alone? The next time Amelia is presented with a similar issue, she applies these lessons to handle the situation herself, or asks a human colleague to lend her a hand. Amelia’s attributes allow her to work side-by-side with humans to ensure that all business tasks are handled quickly and correctly, no matter what the situation.

“[AI] is enabling the human agents to really deal with solving human problems, the more complex cases and the cases that require human intervention in a more efficient fashion,” said Daugherty.

As the relationship between humans and digital colleagues matures, we fully expect human colleagues to handle more interesting, unique and complex work. This will lead to a workforce that sounds very much like the one Krigsman and Daugherty discussed during CXOTalk – one that is more fulfilled and capable of raising the bar for how companies do business.

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Paul Daugherty is Accenture’s chief technology & innovation officer and leads the company’s Technology Innovation & Ecosystem group. He is co-author of Human + Machine: Reimagining Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, a management guide to Artificial Intelligence published by Harvard Press.

Follow Paul on Twitter and LinkedIn.

 

Michael Krigsman is recognized internationally as an industry analyst and host of CXOTALK. As a columnist for ZDNet, Michael has written over 1,000 articles on topics related to innovation, digital disruption and leadership. Michael is often a judge in prestigious industry contests such as the CIO100 contest (CIO Magazine) and CRM Idol. He has presented to groups such as CIO Symposium (Cleveland), Oracle OpenWorld, Digital Enterprise Show (Madrid), CIO Summit (Boston), D-Summit (Stockholm), Harvard University, and more.

Follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus.

 

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