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Jan 20 2018
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Opinion

With the NHS Nursing Crisis, the Need for AI Cognitive Agents Becomes Even More Critical

John Madden, Senior Manager for Content, IPsoft | January 19, 2018

AI in Healthcare Blog The well-publicized nursing shortage in the NHS is now a true crisis, according to a report this week from the BBC, with the number of leavers outpacing joiners and the NHS insisting action is being taken to reverse the trend. Whatever recovery plans the NHS maps out, this development is perhaps the clearest signal yet that the very nature of nursing across the UK needs to change, and AI-enabled cognitive agent technology can play a critical part in that transformation in the UK and indeed globally. According to figures from NHS Digital provided to the BBC, more than 33,000 nurses left the profession last year, an..

With the NHS Nursing Crisis, the Need for AI Cognitive Agents Becomes Even More Critical

John Madden, Senior Manager for Content, IPsoftJanuary 19, 2018

AI in Healthcare Blog
The well-publicized nursing shortage in the NHS is now a true crisis, according to a report this week from the BBC, with the number of leavers outpacing joiners and the NHS insisting action is being taken to reverse the trend. Whatever recovery plans the NHS maps out, this development is perhaps the clearest signal yet that the very nature of nursing across the UK needs to change, and AI-enabled cognitive agent technology can play a critical part in that transformation in the UK and indeed globally. According to figures from NHS Digital provided to the BBC, more than 33,000 nurses left the profession last year, an increase of more than 20 percent from 2012-13, with approximately 3,000 more leavers than joiners. This translates into 1 in 10 nurses resigning last year, and worryingly more than half of those were under the age of 40 (many left for jobs in the private sector) and a fifth were over age 55, when nurses can begin retiring. That means younger nurses were abandoning their NHS careers at a faster rate than retirees, creating a gap in the overall demographic staff make-up that is only growing larger. The report notes that Brexit appears to have had an impact as well; before the referendum vote the number of EU nurses joining the NHS was higher than leavers, and now that trend has reversed. While this staffing trend is not unique to the UK, and observers within and outside the NHS knew the situation was dire and predicted it would only get worse, these figures are particularly grim. The UK Royal College of Nursing for years has advocated higher wages and other items in order to address the staffing shortage. NHS regulators said that retention initiatives are underway, from masterclasses for HR officials and nursing directors, to transfer systems for nurses looking to change jobs, to new achievement recognition programs. The government is increasing the number of nurse training centers by 25% this year. Hospital trusts, meanwhile, are even partnering with local businesses to offer nurses employee discounts and rewards. NHS officials made no mention to the BBC of using AI or digital technologies as part of its recruitment and retention efforts. The UK government, however, has indicated it has high aspirations for AI, issuing a recent report with recommendations on how the UK can become a global AI innovator. Meanwhile, we have seen healthcare officials across the UK (and other regions) growing increasingly interested in AI’s potential benefits, including the use of cognitive agents like IPsoft’s Amelia, to augment the workforce and serve as assistants to health providers and care-givers. Given the current demands on nurses, the potential advantages from using AI-enabled cognitive agents are significant. Nurses are expected to juggle increasing patient workloads, time-consuming administrative tasks, and higher patient expectations in the quality of care, all under stressful and challenging working conditions. The modern nursing model needs to be shifted where technology takes on the more routine administrative and operational tasks, freeing up nurses for more fulfilling patient interactions and ultimately better patient experiences. That’s where cognitive agents like Amelia can come in, acting as a virtual nurse’s assistant and collaborating with human colleagues. Amelia’s natural language, emotional intelligence and machine learning capabilities can provide an engaging, conversational interface to patients and staff, handling frequent interactions such as requests for appointments, test results or prescription requests, and allowing nurses to spend more time on patient care. Once trained, Amelia can be integrated as a fully-fledged member of any inter-disciplinary team, taking up the burden of routine, transactional and repetitive tasks that consume so much nursing time today. Retaining current nursing talent and recruiting new candidates is a global issue, affecting countries, counties and states; the NHS is hardly alone in attempting to deal with staffing shortages in public healthcare systems. It will take years for any NHS turnaround plan to stem its current nursing crisis. For the NHS and others looking for a way forward, cognitive agents can provide new capabilities and resources, affordably and at scale, that can relieve nurses of some of their more routine job pressures, and remind those that have entered the profession what makes it so rewarding. In the end, Amelia could turn out to be the “best friend” nurses have ever had.   For more about AI in Healthcare:   ‘Mind the Gap’: Using Cognitive Agents to Scale Conversations, Not Only Insights, in Healthcare - By David Champeaux

Securing the Value of AI in Healthcare: Go for a Cure, Not Just a Treatment - David King

Digital & Human Health Care – ‘And’ not ‘Or’ - David Champeaux


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In The Media

CIO: How AI Will Impact Your IT Career

January 17, 2018

IHG's Scot Whigham discusses the company's deployment of Amelia, IPsoft's virtual agent, and explains how AI is part of a transformation strategy, Read more.

CIO: How AI Will Impact Your IT Career

January 17, 2018

IHG's Scot Whigham discusses the company's deployment of Amelia, IPsoft's virtual agent, and explains how AI is part of a transformation strategy, Read more.


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Opinion

Q&A: Scot Whigham, Director Global IT Service Support, InterContinental Hotel Group

January 16, 2018

[caption id="attachment_7483" align="alignnone" width="625"] Scot Whigham of IHG addresses the audience about his experiences with Amelia at the IPsoft Digital..

Q&A: Scot Whigham, Director Global IT Service Support, InterContinental Hotel Group

January 16, 2018

[caption id="attachment_7483" align="alignnone" width="625"] Scot Whigham of IHG addresses the audience about his experiences with Amelia at the IPsoft Digital Workforce Summit.[/caption]

 

Scot Whigham’s job is centered on delivering world-class customer service.

  As leader of the Global IT Service Support organization for InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) – a world-renowned hotel company that includes well-known brands such as InterContinental, Holiday Inn and Kimpton in 100 countries – Whigham leads a team that delivers IT support to 30,000 corporate employees and associates. His team makes sure that any IT issues are resolved quickly, so there’s no impact on IHG’s primary mission to deliver sterling service and hospitality to lodgers and guests. We spoke to Whigham about why he looked to AI and specifically to IPsoft’s Amelia as part of his service strategy, how his organization has adapted to working with AI, and his organization’s ongoing success with Amelia.   What influenced you to consider AI initially? What drew you to the technology and then specifically to IPsoft? What drew us to the technology was trying to solve the challenge that IHG gave to us which was expanding our capacity without expanding in the technical support field, providing customer [IHG Hotel and Corporate colleagues] service and providing key components of availability and being able to respond to our customers. We were given the challenge to meet those high demands from our customers for engagement and we couldn’t do it because we didn’t have the physical space and also meet our budget priorities and improve our quality. So it was “how do we expand without expanding?” We started taking a look at chatbot technology and we quickly realized that it was not going to be adequate because the experience, the engagement with our customers was not personal, could not react in the moment, and the customer would have to train themselves to interact with the tool to get the information out of it. We would not be able to get significant information back from customers in order to continuously improve the product. From that we knew chatbot technology was not going to be part of the decision-making process. We spoke to a number of different vendors. We selected IPsoft because of the tools and the team, and seeing the capability for our customers to have a conversational experience with Amelia. We saw the capability to have a real-life experience, very similar to how conversations take place between us [IT support] and our customers. Our end users are looking for support that they can engage with, just as they engage with our [hotel] guests.  

Make sure [Amelia] is part of the overall strategy, and make sure that people are included in the strategy and explain how they’re going to work together with the technology.

Scot Whigham, Director Global IT Service Support, InterContinental Hotel Group

  Now that you’ve used AI technology, what were your biggest surprises, and what were the biggest challenges? Three things in particular. This is new technology and the necessary skill sets are few and far between. How do you scale up those skills? IPsoft has significant skills to deliver on the platform, but the key is also having the expertise on our internal business processes and how they would work in this platform. It’s critically important to understand the soft skills you need and understanding the business processes necessary to execute on different tasks. What was surprising was how poorly we documented the business process day in day out, and working with Amelia provided us a much greater understanding of all of our processes. Second thing that was the level of training. We should have engaged in training before the [implementation] process even started, in order to get both sides [IHG and IPsoft] to speak the same language and terminology so we can effectively communicate in deploying this technology. The third was how to let the technology’s true capabilities come forward, and not try to programmatically determine every little step in the process. We did not leverage the technology’s ability to learn and to map out conversations, to help build out the BPMs (best practice models), and to help us establish a baseline and a framework where we could quickly deliver. Due to the way we originally deployed, we slowed ourselves tremendously and we limited the amount of data we fed into Amelia. If we were to start all over again, we would change that up and try and feed all the data that we could to Amelia in terms of process, knowledge base and actual conversations that were taking place. We would allow Amelia to start mapping out as quickly as possible and allow her to build that baseline framework, that we could then hone those experiences we wanted our customers to have with Amelia.   How do you push culture change in an organization when implementing AI technology? The cultural challenge that we had to meet with our tech organization was the fear that this was job-killing technology. That’s the fear we faced the most and what we’ve had to face in this technology. We didn’t want to overly promote this technology, saying that it was going to solve all challenges – it’s not a panacea or a silver bullet to any problems that you have. It should be part of your overall business strategy. It was critical to overcome the fears we had internally, so we flipped that on its head to demonstrate how staff would fit into the business strategy and how their jobs would fit into higher-level roles.  What you see is our employee engagement scores remain extremely high within the support organization. Make sure this technology is part of the overall strategy, and make sure that people are included in the strategy and explain how they’re going to work together with the technology.   What metrics do you have or think are important for measurement of success? First and foremost, does Amelia help our customer? Is she successfully assisting the customer? We pay very close attention to her capability to execute on individual tasks and the different situations we train her on. For the initial business cases that we trained her on, she has had success rate in the 80-85 percent range. It’s the same experience if you measured individual agents, they’re ability to execute on tasks they’ve been trained on. One great advantage with Amelia is you train at one point, then for every interaction she has going forward, and because she can do transactions simultaneously, that means we have one point to change and she can execute on that change. It’s a critical metric that we use. We’re deploying some other technology in order for us to understand the satisfaction of the experience with our customers, and how they feel about the technology. We’ve seen high satisfaction rates so far with those customers that have engaged with Amelia. What we’ve been hearing from our customers is that “it’s about time” – they’ve been expecting this technology and our culture is embracing it.  


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Opinion

Consumers to Financial Services Firms: Do More in CX

John Madden, Senior Manager for Content, IPsoft | January 12, 2018

AI in Financial Services Blog Regular readers of IPsoft blog posts know that we often publish entries focused on customer experience (CX) – how important it is for a..

Consumers to Financial Services Firms: Do More in CX

John Madden, Senior Manager for Content, IPsoftJanuary 12, 2018

AI in Financial Services Blog
Regular readers of IPsoft blog posts know that we often publish entries focused on customer experience (CX) – how important it is for a digital enterprise strategy, how CX expectations continue to rise, and how companies are using automation and cognitive technologies to push CX to new heights. In 2018 we’ll continue to write about these issues and how corporations must include AI as part of their CX investment plans. Judging by the results of a new survey on digital CX in financial services (FS) firms, more investment can’t come fast enough. In a survey sponsored by NTT Data Services which included more than 1,100 consumers, when respondents were asked to rate their digital CX experience from FS firms, only 16% said they were “totally satisfied” compared to 52% who said they were satisfied and 28% who said they were “neutral.” Overall the results show that satisfaction with current CX levels from FS companies is, as the survey declares, “lukewarm” at best. Small and online banks scored best when respondents were asked to rate the CX provided in various transactions such as paying bills and opening credit cards. When asked to rate their most annoying customer experiences, the following landed in the top five:
  • Not being able to accomplish what I wanted to do;
  • Options provided are not relevant to me;
  • Having time being wasted by tasks that take too long to complete;
  • Having to enter the same information multiple times in a single transaction; and
  • When too many options make completing the task difficult.
The provided responses across demographics demonstrated the imperative for FS firms to invest in digital and new technologies, including virtual assistants, to serve future customer needs. Among what the survey labels “Explorers,” or customers between the ages of 18 and 34, 73% said CX needed improvement, and 86% said they would leave their current FS firm for one with better CX. Other survey results show that younger customers want greater personalization and guidance in their interactions with banks, insurance firms and other FS companies. What’s more, 41% said they would prefer to use or consider using a virtual assistant such as Alexa or Siri for transactions, and are very willing to share a significant amount of their personal and financial data – such as online and in-store purchase information, credit card information and even information from their other FS companies – if it means better CX through mobile and other channels. FS firms overall have been among the most aggressive companies when it comes to digital and CX investments, which is why these survey results are so interesting. Despite all the previous money, effort and success in digital CX, the message from the surveyed consumers to FS firms is fairly clear: Our CX expectations are high, you’re not entirely reaching them now, and we want our CX more personalized. In addition, younger demographics appear very receptive to using virtual assistants in transactions, which should lead FS companies to consider how AI overall should impact CX. Some banks, such as Sweden’s SEB, are ahead of the game. SEB is using IPsoft’s Amelia to enhance bank operations and customer service for more than a million customers, handling customer queries like password resets, step-by-step assistance with credit and debit cards, and ID verification, with more services to come. If, as the old saying goes, the customer is always right, it’s also clear in the current market that the customer is not always satisfied with its CX when banking, filing insurance claims or paying credit card bills. AI technologies such as Amelia, which are designed to build stronger relationships between corporations and customers, will be key to meeting and exceeding customers’ CX expectations.


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Press Releases

IPsoft appoints digital management visionary, Anurag Harsh, as Chief Marketing Officer

January 4, 2018

IPsoft Appoints Digital Management Visionary, Anurag Harsh, as Chief Marketing Officer   NEW YORK, NY – January 4th, 2018 – IPsoft, the leader in artificial..

IPsoft appoints digital management visionary, Anurag Harsh, as Chief Marketing Officer

January 4, 2018

IPsoft Appoints Digital Management Visionary, Anurag Harsh, as Chief Marketing Officer   NEW YORK, NY – January 4th, 2018 – IPsoft, the leader in artificial intelligence, cognitive and autonomic solutions, today announced the appointment of Anurag Harsh, a well-known business leader in the technology industry, as Chief Marketing Officer (CMO).   As CMO, Harsh will lead the company’s global marketing efforts across 16 countries, taking a primary role in accelerating the growth of the company’s groundbreaking AI technology including Amelia, the world’s most human AI. This includes global brand and market strategy, thought leadership, media and analyst relations, digital and linear programs, as well as market engagement activities to elevate the understanding of artificial intelligence and IPsoft’s pioneering role in it.   “Anurag is a distinguished leader in the field of digital disruption. When it came to selecting a CMO who could authoritatively differentiate solutions in AI, we could not find another that has published seven books on the topic, three of which were Amazon bestsellers. His track record at Ziff Davis shows that he can leverage his digital insight to cement IPsoft’s market-leading position as the premier provider of Enterprise AI solutions,” said Chetan Dube, CEO of IPsoft.   Harsh, voted one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices (#1 in Tech) most recently played a leading role at Ziff Davis, one of the world’s largest digital media companies, with brands that include PCMag, Mashable, IGN and Everyday Health, where, as founding executive he led the strategic development of the publisher from a privately held company into a multi-billion-dollar, public company, reaching over 150 million worldwide in 114 countries. Harsh has also led senior management roles with IDG, CBS and CNN. An alum of the Wharton School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he was a Sloan Fellow, Harsh is a published author of seven books, a contributing columnist to leading US publications with over 400 published articles, and a musician that has performed two solo concerts at the Carnegie Hall.   “Artificial Intelligence is the general-purpose technology of our era along the lines of the steam engine, electricity, and the internal combustion engine. I’m therefore delighted to be joining IPsoft, the world leader in truly cognitive and autonomic solutions for Enterprises, trusted by 1 in 5 of the Fortune 100,”  Harsh said. “IPsoft’s exceptional products have transformed, elevated and inspired companies throughout the world. I’m looking forward to working with the IPsoft team to showcase the truly unique capabilities of Amelia, the most human AI in the world.”   About IPsoft IPsoft, the leader in Enterprise AI, automates business and IT processes for Enterprises across a wide range of industries through the use of digital labor. Through its portfolio of world-leading autonomic and cognitive solutions, it provides a platform that allows its clients to gain unprecedented efficiencies and cost savings. Headquartered in New York City, IPsoft has offices in 16 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.   Contact Daniela Zuin, Tel: +1 212 708 5521 Marketing Director, IPsoft daniela.zuin@ipsoft.com  


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