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Dec 18 2017
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Opinion

The Importance of Customer Experience, Data Access, and Business Priorities: Reflections from the AI Summit

Aphrodite Brinsmead, Senior Analyst Relations Manager, IPsoft | December 7, 2017

AI can be applied in every type of business -- from a virtual bar that can personalize drinks to NASA’s search for life on Jupiter’s Europa moon -- and we are only just starting on the AI journey. However, before AI’s impact is fully realized, there are several ethical considerations and challenges to overcome. These were the primary messages throughout the sold-out AI Summit, hosted on December 5–6 in New York City, attracting hundreds of business leaders from a diverse range of industries, more than 120 speakers, and cutting-edge AI technology demonstrations. IPsoft presented on AI’s impact on customer satisfaction IPsoft’s..

The Importance of Customer Experience, Data Access, and Business Priorities: Reflections from the AI Summit

Aphrodite Brinsmead, Senior Analyst Relations Manager, IPsoftDecember 7, 2017

AI can be applied in every type of business -- from a virtual bar that can personalize drinks to NASA’s search for life on Jupiter’s Europa moon -- and we are only just starting on the AI journey. However, before AI’s impact is fully realized, there are several ethical considerations and challenges to overcome. These were the primary messages throughout the sold-out AI Summit, hosted on December 5–6 in New York City, attracting hundreds of business leaders from a diverse range of industries, more than 120 speakers, and cutting-edge AI technology demonstrations.

IPsoft presented on AI’s impact on customer satisfaction
IPsoft’s presence at the AI Summit included a booth with demos of Amelia, the market-leading cognitive agent, as well as a presentation by Chief Cognitive Officer Edwin Van Bommel. The dozens of visitors to IPsoft’s booth were curious to learn about Amelia’s unique context-switching capabilities and pre-built content that differentiate her from a chatbot.  Many attendees were considering customer-facing cognitive agent deployments, while other conversations covered how AI can be used to assist employees with productivity improvements through automation or finding information.                             IPsoft’s Chief Cognitive Officer Edwin van Bommel presents on How AI Can Improve Net Promoter Scores during the AI Summit.   Edwin’s presentation focused on the need for AI to be human. He discussed how Amelia’s emotional intelligence and easy-to-use interface helps businesses improve customer loyalty and ultimately profit. He showed the latest, most-human Amelia avatar and her ability to respond based on the tone or severity of a query. Her ability to sense emotion and change her response to fit the situation is valuable in creating connections between customers and businesses.
Discussions around data accuracy, business outcomes and the impact on people dominated the conference
The critical dependency on accurate data: One of the themes that echoed throughout conference presentations was data: how to prepare it, how to ensure you have the right data, and more importantly the ethics of how it is used. Inaccurate data is likely to cause insights, predictions and even cognitive agent responses to fail. Although cleaning and gathering data from siloed sources can be challenging, speakers also pointed out that waiting too long for data to be ready will lead to businesses falling behind their peers, creating additional problems down the line. As AI solutions evolve and learn, they will be trained with far less data. However, the quality of that data is imperative, especially as we think about the implications of inaccurate data when it comes to global crime, financial safety or medical diagnoses. Businesses must think about how they will prepare for the data transformation journey and gain a more holistic view. At the same time, consumers should consider which data they are willing to share about themselves with businesses. Prioritizing business problems to solve: Many presenters detailed how businesses should focus on using AI to solve business problems rather than implementing an AI solution because it’s popular or to follow competitors. Whether that business problem is improving customer satisfaction, preventing queues forming at a check-in desk by adding an interactive kiosk, or streamlining HR processes, having an AI goal helps with measurement, learnings and future-proofing the business. Relearning behaviors and adapting: As AI takes hold, we will all have to relearn behaviors and communication methods, just as we did with email, text messaging and social media. Some presenters talked about how businesses need to give employees early visibility into how new solutions will impact them, while gathering input on ways AI can be used to assist their work. Although new technology is likely to impact many roles, predominantly in supply chain, manufacturing or agriculture industries, new jobs will also be created -- and preparation is vital. Businesses investing in AI will need to continually improve and adapt, not just with new roles and employee training, but also technology as solutions become more advanced and the business environment changes. They should leverage subject matter expertise to ensure technology provides business value. What was clear from the various presentations and networking sessions during the two-day event is that we are only at the beginning of the AI revolution, with many more exciting and innovative use cases sure to emerge as the deployment of intelligent cognitive technologies accelerates. More information on the AI Summit can be found here.


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Opinion

Don’t Fear the Future: Embrace AI by Managing Change and Employee Expectations

Aphrodite Brinsmead, Senior Analyst Relations Manager, IPsoft | December 15, 2017

While the effect of artificial intelligence (AI) has yet to be fully realized in the corporate world, it’s clear that cognitive machines are steadily creeping into..

Don’t Fear the Future: Embrace AI by Managing Change and Employee Expectations

Aphrodite Brinsmead, Senior Analyst Relations Manager, IPsoftDecember 15, 2017

While the effect of artificial intelligence (AI) has yet to be fully realized in the corporate world, it’s clear that cognitive machines are steadily creeping into consumers’ lives. Alexa, Google Home and Siri are becoming more commonplace each year, smart devices track our physical behavior or sleep patterns and marketing engines analyze our digital data to serve up personalized product and service advertisements. Businesses meanwhile are by no means standing still and AI has already entered the workplace for customer service, knowledge sharing, process improvement and IT service desk automation. But as the prevalence of AI increases in the workplace, there has been all kinds of predictions about how digital employees will ultimately replace humans. Whether you personally believe that this technology has no place in the workforce or whether you are willing to embrace a Blade-Runner-style future -- where undetectable human-like androids walk among us -- you will eventually be pulled into the debate. The most pressing question for employees is whether a robot is going to steal their jobs. Organizations investing in digital labor tools must address employee concerns about job stability sooner rather than later. To appease anxiety, businesses should do whatever they can to prioritize employee engagement and ensure that staff remain driven and productive. They need to provide clear communication around new systems and the benefits of AI. Employees should be prepared to adapt and work together with this new technology. IPsoft recommends four best practices for minimizing employee disruption as businesses implement new solutions:

Augment existing employee processes and tasks to make work more engaging
Today’s AI solutions are being introduced in the workplace to aid staff rather than to replace them. Businesses should provide visibility into how employees will benefit from the reduction of repetitive and unrewarding tasks. Employees will be more motivated if they realize their importance and spend more time handling complex queries that require human, emotional connections. AI can empower them by: speeding up knowledge search, linking applications, automating processes, finding pertinent data from daily or weekly reporting, or providing insights into issues and predicting challenges before they occur. More time can be spent on managing staff, strategy, leadership and building connections with customers and peers.
Use AI to add value where skills or time are limited
AI can add value in several areas, starting with providing scalable 24/7 availability for customer service and support. Intelligent virtual agents can be used to provide customer support during periods of high call or inquiry volumes, or during off hours on weekends or late nights. AI can also step in during disaster recovery scenarios when staff cannot make it to offices or systems are down. Simply put, AI can provide critical customer service and support when humans aren’t available to do so. In healthcare, primary care workforce shortages are a growing issue for many providers and they need to find new, innovative and scalable ways to service customers and reduce employee burnout. The potential role of AI in supplementing and reducing pressure on healthcare staff is described in David Champeaux’s blog, Digital & Human Health Care – ‘And’ not ‘Or’. For example, virtual primary care agents can be designed to handle frequent, routine interactions such as requests for appointments or information queries about test results or immunizations. Another potential AI use case is fraud detection. A large gaming company that implemented IPsoft’s Amelia for customer service found that Amelia was much better at detecting scams when impostors attempt to access the accounts of genuine players. This reduced the burden on agents who feel supported by Amelia and are more confident to handle questions once players have been authenticated.
Gradually introduce new tools and technologies
Businesses should test AI carefully and set realistic expectations for AI as discussed by IPsoft’s Benjamin Jacob in his post Setting the Proper AI Expectations. AI tools are becoming more accurate with improved machine learning capabilities, but they are still evolving. Introducing any new technology into the workplace will require some trial and error and working directly with employees to assess the success of the transformation. Businesses should make internal changes visible to staff, address concerns quickly and be willing to admit mistakes or switch direction when necessary. In other words, organizations should treat AI implementations as a change in corporate culture, just as they did when migrating from highly customized IT to standardized cloud systems, or when introducing new HR procedures.
Address the skills gap early with training
Automation of jobs is inevitable, with or without AI, and it will continue as long as technology improves and we have the resources for further development. This includes humans to support, train and influence AI systems. Thereby, businesses should not only be planning for AI investments but they should look to develop individuals for new jobs that will be created. We will increasingly need humans to test AI, design optimal user experiences, evaluate regulations and safety requirements, and engineer the solutions of the future. As described by Allan Anderson in his post about IPsoft’s newest platform 1Desk, The Digital Labor Studio (DLS) converges people, process, and technology into a contemporary Digital Workforce. Cognitive and automation engineers, data scientists and integration specialists work alongside each other to develop a modern, design-thinking approach to developing business processes. Many of the skills exist in-house and businesses can develop in-house staff that already have organizational knowledge and industry experience that is indispensable when adapting different workflows. Businesses will benefit from early staff education and retraining as a digital workforce expands. When it comes to AI, neither businesses or employees should fear the future. The benefits of embarking on an AI journey far outweigh the potential bumps in the road, from productivity gains to improved customer experiences. However, the responsibility lies with businesses to engage and motivate employees, preparing them early for AI’s potential impact.


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Opinion

‘Mind the Gap’: Using Cognitive Agents to Scale Conversations, Not Only Insights, in Healthcare

David Champeaux, Cognitive Director, Healthcare Solutions, IPsoft | December 8, 2017

Here is the data, there are the insights…but where are the people? There are potentially invaluable benefits to health and well-being in the accelerating ability to..

‘Mind the Gap’: Using Cognitive Agents to Scale Conversations, Not Only Insights, in Healthcare

David Champeaux, Cognitive Director, Healthcare Solutions, IPsoftDecember 8, 2017

Here is the data, there are the insights…but where are the people? There are potentially invaluable benefits to health and well-being in the accelerating ability to generate valuable new insights from the wealth of new data and advanced analytics capabilities available today. Industry investment in more data and analytics is clearly there; for example, the 2017 Global Health Care Outlook report from Deloitte cited research that hospital expenditures on analytics are anticipated to reach USD $18.7 billion by 2020, up from USD $5.8 billion in 2015.   These insights can drive changes in the existing practices of consumers and carers in healthcare, as well as drive the design and delivery of new healthcare products and services. However, these insights will not fully translate into outcomes unless we also address their translation into actions by the right people throughout the healthcare and social care ecosystem. To translate into an outcome, an insight requires an action to be undertaken by an agent, and in healthcare there are significant resource and capability gaps which we need to simultaneously address to capitalize on these new insights.                        

Gap #1: Patients are people – and they want to engage in conversations about insights
Many Digital Health innovations and investments seem to be aimed at presenting a personalized insight to a patient/consumer, potentially on an app or wearable device, assuming that insight will be sufficient to translate into a change in patient behavior. The focus seems to be on finding the “perfect insight” (drawn from a wealth of Big Data and advanced analytics) which is so compelling and personalized that users will change their behavior along with it – and the belief that the presentation of these insights (and/or a related offer, product or service associated with that insight) will be enough to motivate patient change. If only it was that easy. The line between a presentation of facts and a human’s response to those facts is hardly a straight and narrow path. We should reflect on the wisdom which led to the Nobel Prize for Economics being awarded this year to Richard Thaler, who exposed the complexity which drives people’s decisions and actions. Researchers in the field of behaviour economics have demonstrated that people cannot be expected to behave as rational automatons, but instead exhibit limited rationality, social preference influences and lack of self-control in their behavior. The reality we should anticipate is that any new insight, no matter how personalized and relevant, is likely for most people to first trigger more questions, as well as a need for a conversation about its implications and possible actions. Therefore, we need to invest in scaling these conversations at the same pace as we invest in generating the new insights. Which leads us to the second gap…
Gap #2: Care coordinators are scarce – so we need to augment their ability to engage
Another “insight to outcomes” implied dependency is the availability and willingness of appropriate care professionals to – proactively or reactively – take an action based on the new insights being made available to them or to their patients/health consumers. Whether it is a care provider organization receiving an insight about a patient’s risk of readmission to hospital, a health insurer receiving a warning about a gap in care, or a patient being warned about a health or well-being risk, the translation of this insight into a positive outcome requires an intervention. This most commonly includes a conversation between a care coordinator and a patient or with other members of the care team across the health ecosystem. Given the growing shortages in the healthcare workforce, especially in nursing and adult social care, and increasing reports of burnout by these care workers, it is not realistic to assume they have the capacity and capability to act on (or even be aware of or acknowledge) these new insights. In the UK, recent analysis by NHS Improvement has confirmed a shortage of 36,000 nurses; and in the US, a Mayo Clinic survey revealed an increasing burnout trend, now affecting 55% of physicians  In fact, workforce availability and affordability shortages have been one of the main barriers to scalability of proactive population health management models, even based on less sophisticated insights that have been available for decades.
Cognitive Virtual Agents can help scale conversations about insights – if we design them as virtual colleagues who augment the care team
It is clear that merely supplying patients and overwhelmed practitioners with more data, or even insights, will be insufficient to fill the gap between insights and actionable benefits and outcomes, and in some cases may even add to the confusion and cognitive overload. Rather than looking for a perfect “self-standing” digital solution to completely substitute care coordinators, we believe that digital services must be integrated with care delivery conversations. Several digital health innovators, such as Ginger.io, have recognized this and evolved their service models, moving from the initial provision of a “digital-only” service (e.g. via a mobile app) to an integrated healthcare service combining a digital platform and caregivers providing advice. Cognitive virtual agents, such as Amelia, can enable health systems to deliver such integrated ‘insights-enabled conversations’ models at scale, as these virtual agents can be designed to join and augment the care team, and help scale their capacity and ability to engage patients and other carers in meaningful conversations. Cognitive virtual agents can contribute as a valued new care team member in three ways:
  1. Acting as a “healthcare operations concierge,” unburdening care workers from their existing routine, administrative and operational interactions – therefore freeing up more time for patient-facing care coordination conversations.
 
  1. Acting as a “care coordination whisperer,” supporting care workers in planning and delivering their care conversations and interventions, by providing relevant insights and protocol compliant support via a flexible conversational interface – therefore enabling the care worker to scale the number and improve the effectiveness of their conversations with patients in their care.
 
  1. Acting as a “care navigation buddy,” enabling 24/7 patient access to routine information and service support via a conversational virtual agent – therefore extending patient access and the frequency of patient interactions with their care team, with positive impact on adherence and engagement, whilst freeing up the care team from routine, transactional interactions.
Through human-like conversational cognitive agents like Amelia, patients can feel more connected to their providers and care plans, with assurance that they are being provided with the most up-to-date, relevant and timely guidance, based on the insights available to patients and the care team. Providers, meanwhile, are empowered rather than overwhelmed by new data and insights; their routine tasks are delegated to their virtual agents, freeing carers to focus on what they do best and enjoy doing most. Virtual agents are therefore uniquely designed to bridge the gap between insight and outcomes and relieve the healthcare workforce from the pressures they are facing.


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Press Releases

Loss of Productivity Due to IT Issues Costs UK Business up to £62.4bn Annually

November 29, 2017

Salary costs of £6.9bn are wasted due to IT issues and productivity hindrance; end-user frustration sees call for "Siri Simplicity" available from IT automation and..

Loss of Productivity Due to IT Issues Costs UK Business up to £62.4bn Annually

November 29, 2017

Salary costs of £6.9bn are wasted due to IT issues and productivity hindrance; end-user frustration sees call for "Siri Simplicity" available from IT automation and cognitive computing
LONDON, November 29, 2017 — According to a new survey commissioned by IPsoft, the leader in enterprise AI, IT issues impacting productivity equate to an estimated £62.4bn in revenue. UK business is wasting an estimated £6.9bn in salary costs while staff are hindered or unproductive for over seven days a year as a result of IT failures. The study finds business users calling for a simpler way of having IT issues resolved, with 66% stating it should be as simple as asking "Siri" a question. In an age of digital transformation, it is more important than ever for technology to accelerate the pace of doing business. In 2018, this will take the form of more IT automation, cognitive computing and artificial intelligence. The study shows the need for more intelligent systems as business users still have IT issues that hamper their productivity for more than 52 hours a year – equating to more than six full working days. Furthermore, each user loses 15 hours a year due to IT issues completely preventing them from doing their job – equating to nearly two full working days.   Brand loyalty is vital for business success, yet in the last 12 months, 58% of all respondents to the study had an IT issue that prevented them from providing service to a customer. Additionally, half of the respondents had an IT issue that caused them to miss a deadline. In an attempt to stay productive, 42% of users would rather try to find a workaround instead of contacting IT to fix their problem, with 33% asking their colleagues if they know how to fix the issue before approaching IT. [caption id="attachment_8889" align="alignleft" width="387"] According to a new survey commissioned by IPsoft, IT issues impacting productivity equate to an estimated £62.4bn in revenue.[/caption] Chetan Dube, CEO, IPsoft, said, “IT is both the accelerator for digital transformation and paradoxically the stumbling block for digital strategies. These findings show that business users want an all-together different experience from their interactions with IT and the processes it supports. Business users want to be able to talk to their IT applications and have the applications solve their problems or requests, thereby disintermediating large segments of classic IT operations and ticket generating systems.” Business users prefer to speak through their IT issues in simple language, and often try to find work-arounds to the formal procedures IT departments have in place to fix their issues. Users say they find it easier to verbally describe their IT issues rather than write them down (51%). Nearly half (49%) of respondents feel their IT requests go into a black hole and they want to be kept better informed of progress. Furthermore, 64% feel frustrated if their work IT systems are down for just five minutes. The survey also shows that more than half of respondents have greater problems with their work IT systems than the ones they use in their personal lives (57%). “We are addressing these issues through the launch of 1Desk™, which layers cognitive competence on top of an autonomic backbone to provide business users with an intelligent interface to a digital agent who can diagnose problems, fulfil requests and execute tasks across shared services functions including IT, HR, finance. No matter which channel business users find most convenient– messenger tools, phone, online chat – using simple, plain language we ensure end-to-end automation provides them quick turnaround times and delivers high NPS satisfaction scores,” concluded Chetan Dube, CEO, IPsoft. Methodology: The study, carried out by independent research house 3Gem, surveyed 3,000 respondents working at organizations with 250+ UK employees. About IPsoft IPsoft, the leader in enterprise AI, 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, IPsoft provides services that allow its clients to secure competitive advantage. Headquartered in New York City, IPsoft has 18 offices in 15 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, +1 212 708 5521 Marketing Director, IPsoft daniela.zuin@ipsoft.com


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Opinion

AI Will Be Critical to Improve Enterprise Productivity

John Madden, Senior Manager for Content, IPsoft | December 1, 2017

The UK government this week released its Industrial Strategy white paper detailing its plans to drive economic growth and increase productivity across the country...

AI Will Be Critical to Improve Enterprise Productivity

John Madden, Senior Manager for Content, IPsoftDecember 1, 2017

The UK government this week released its Industrial Strategy white paper detailing its plans to drive economic growth and increase productivity across the country. Unsurprisingly, technology and specifically artificial intelligence play a major role in achieving those goals. In addition to pledging to raise technology R&D funding to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, the government proposes another round of investment in the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (£725m), with £33m earmarked for “immersive technologies such as virtual, augmented and mixed reality,” and £20m for next-generation services powered by AI and data analytics. According to the report, UK service sectors need to be primed to take advantage of these technologies. “Pioneer funding will help service industries to identify how the application of these technologies can transform their operations. This will help to set UK service industries at the forefront of developing and using innovation.” The white paper comes on the heels of a previously released report from the UK Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy on the country’s potential to become a worldwide leader of AI development and innovation. The report made 18 specific recommendations -- including improving access to data, establishing of a UK AI Council, creating a national AI institute for the UK at the world-renowned Alan Turing Institute, and implementing new efforts to build-up AI skills nationwide – that if implemented could potentially add £630bn to the UK economy by 2035. Positioning the UK as a future center of AI innovation is a commendable national goal, especially the emphasis on educating, skilling and re-training the human workforce to work with and alongside AI and cognitive tech. The UK government rightly believes future investments must be plotted out in order to get ahead of current AI trends and surpass them. Meanwhile, there is also a great need for enterprises and corporations to take advantage of AI to address their own current productivity and growth issues, regardless of the moves made by the government. In this age of digital transformation when all aspects of business are being elevated through tech investment, AI will be critical to close productivity gaps, accelerate growth and remain competitive. Case in point: IPsoft released findings from a recent survey showing that IT failures are costing UK businesses an estimated £6.9bn in salary costs, the result of employees wasting time and productivity waiting for IT issues to be resolved. The survey also showed that IT issues impacting productivity equate to an estimated £62.4bn in revenue loss. The survey of 3,000 UK respondents clearly shows a direct correlation between lost employee time and negative business outcomes. For example, in the last 12 months, 58% of respondents had an IT issue that prevented them from providing service to a customer. Additionally, half of the respondents had an IT issue that caused them to miss a deadline, which presumably had an impact on internal projects or external activities. What’s more, the survey showed a desire among respondents to embrace AI-related technologies to make improvements. Respondents indicated they wanted a simpler way to resolve IT issues, with 66% stating they would use an intelligent agent (such as “Siri”) for such issues. Granted, the survey specifically addressed IT-related support queries, but we know from our conversations with customers that there is a growing desire to embrace automation and cognitive technologies to enhance and improve all kinds of enterprise services (finance, HR, administration etc.), and leverage virtual cognitive agents to improve customer experience. With Brexit negotiations pending and the UK entering uncertain economic waters, the UK government is wise to detail its view on how tech, innovation and AI will create and sustain economic success. CEOs and business executives need to take some of these ideas to heart as well, and investigate how AI can be embedded into their operations to weather any economic storm and accelerate growth. We expect many business leaders will be doing so in 2018 (if they haven’t already) as they review and prioritize internal productivity challenges and determine the best way forward with AI.


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