Jonathan Crane: Amelia is targeted at changing the way we work. We’ve taken these virtual engineers in IT management and we’re now coming up with a virtual employee. We’ve bunched this together and call it digital labor or software-defined labor, much like we’re seeing technologies today like Network-as-a-Service or Software-as-a-Service. Everything is being made into a service offered from some kind of a hosted network solution like a cloud-type architecture.
We’re now talking about labor being provided in a very similar fashion. This changes the perception of cost of infrastructure management. Most importantly in the new release with Amelia, we began to rethink how we do work. All of this is in response to the change in the marketplace. We’re seeing more and more that business processes, which in the old days were managed by people assisted by technology, are now increasingly managed by technology and assisted by intelligent people. This creates a great shift and a need for transformation. Gartner calls it the digital company. We see digital banks, digital retail firms, or digital oil and gas companies. They’re changing the way they’re thinking about how they operate, how they deliver services, how they interface with your end-user client. We see this transformation going about at record speeds over the next three to five years.
Sramana Mitra: Now set this in the context of this discussion. This is a Thought Leaders in Artificial Intelligence discussion. How do you leverage artificial intelligence? What is the thought leadership that you’re providing in that area?
Jonathan Crane: If you think about how we normally think about interfacing with what we’ll call the IVR – Intelligent Voice Response systems, clearly Amelia’s much more. In this case, she’s not just the typical IVR. She’s actually reading natural language. She understands context. She applies logic. She infers implications. She discerns processes independently by reading and observing. She can even sense the emotion of people with whom she’s communicating.
This is a virtual employee that is being put out either as a smart advisor to an individual interfacing with the public in order to handle the problems, issues, and requests that are coming from that end-user client. One instance is we have a very large oil and gas company that we’re supporting. They decided that they want to change the cost structure of supporting their vendors. In particular, as vendors call in to get information relative to payments and services, they have a number of standard questions they would ask. The oil and gas company was populating this with people to take these calls and handle them. They’ve since replaced those people on the front end with Amelia now interfacing and answering those questions.
Amelia has the ability to interface with the databases and SAP systems that runs and operates the financial part of this oil and gas company. Therefore, she’s fully sufficient to be able to respond to the end user. We have another company now looking at actually selling insurance to you as an individual user. You can access this company and begin to speak about this company. There are a number of things we would need to ask you in order to determine what kind of insurance, how much it would cost you, the kind of dwelling you’re trying to insure. All of that actually can be built on top of a process ontology that this virtual agent could follow. Amazingly, very quickly in time that is much more compressed than interfacing with a human, this virtual agent is able to sell home insurance to the individual that’s coming and asking for it. It assists this company in particular to actually greatly decrease their cost so that they’re able to compete with some of the bigger players in the marketplace.