How Sophie Is Spearheading Stefanini’s Journey into Artificial Intelligence

April 04, 2019 by Razvan Tapu, Head of Digital Transformation, Stefanini

With the rapid development of solutions such as cloud computing, the Internet of Things and application software, in a relatively short space of time, the modern workplace has radically transformed. One development, however, which may have prompted more rigorous debate than any other, is artificial intelligence (AI).

Some people are thrilled by the prospect of AI, in awe of the vast possibilities that it represents from a productivity and profitability point of view. Others, however, are more concerned about its influence, citing the impact that it may have on jobs and skills. The fact of the matter though, is that as ground-breaking as AI may seem now, it’s only going to continue to become more advanced.

One study found, for example, that over the last three years, the demand for workers who have AI-related skills has increased by up to 119%. We have even reached the stage whereby people are able to engage in debates with artificial intelligence.

With further research and development underway, it’s difficult to know quite how much this technology will evolve over the next five, ten, or even twenty years. We can, however, use today’s solutions to make some predictions.

Sophie

Our own advanced cognitive computing solution, Sophie, is the world’s premier corporate AI agent.

Sophie is designed with a focus on self-adaptation and contextual automation, enabling self-learning, human-like interactions and self-healing capabilities. She can operate across different business scenarios and interact with various personas, integrating with different channels to provide a tailored customer experience.

In short, this means that Sophie can assist with most high-volume, repetitive tasks, such as triggering workflow, auto-escalation and sourcing information for users. She helps companies to improve their services and user experience by satisfying the need for constant customer support, reducing request handling time and providing detailed, actionable records of customers’ greatest pain points.

Sophie uses common knowledge networks to understand and answer a question. She has an initial installation of three-million words, with the ability to add additional data, and a global collaborative archive that allows her to recognise and comprehend human concepts. As a result, she is able to recognise emotions and respond accordingly. She is even able to pick up on certain key words, such as swear words, and is intuitive enough to recognise when an unhappy customer should be referred to a human operator.

Integration is part of Sophie’s DNA. She has been designed to easily connect with legacy systems, ITSM tools, CRM, ERP and more, offering an end-to-end, single-screen experience that will amaze the end user. From a business point of view, Sophie ensures the provision of 24/7 customer support and allows human co-workers to focus on more complex tasks which can’t be automated.

What else is Sophie capable of?

Since Sophie launched five years ago, her capabilities have already developed beyond the simple provision of customer service support. Some of the other areas that she can operate within include:

  • Concierge - A concierge chatbot can quickly perform contextual and repetitive tasks. For instance, a task such as planning a travel itinerary only requires the bot to ask a few short questions. An “intelligent” concierge bot could even leverage past requests to provide quick actions such as, “Would you like to book ‘the usual’?”
  • Sales - Sales teams can use chatbots such as Sophie to assist with cross-selling, by initiating conversations with existing customers to offer a broad data package, subscriptions to partner offerings or other products that fit their profile. A chatbot could also generate leads for the sales team, providing initial information to a potential customer and, as soon as a certain level of interest is detected, either directing the lead to a salesperson or to a dedicated landing page
  • Data gathering - Chatbots can be used to gather data. For example, solutions such as Sophie could reach out to customers on behalf of banks, to ask for the information necessary to remain data-compliant. They can also check data for journaling purposes, such as by verifying a customer’s address. As chats or messages are less invasive than a phone call and require only a few seconds to complete, they are ideal for data-gathering

What does the future hold for Sophie?

Technology can always be improved, and Sophie is no exception. The more she is used, the more sophisticated her cognitive capabilities inherently become. However, one way in which we are actively working to improve Sophie is by developing the ability for customers to use voice as an input channel.

Sophie can currently be integrated with any text-based communication method, such as SMS, WhatsApp or Facebook. As voice is a preferred contact medium for many audiences though, we are working hard to make her capable of handling voice interactions in the same way that she currently handles text-based interactions.

What’s next for AI?

While she is an industry-leading solution, Sophie is just the start. At Stefanini, we believe that AI will become an intrinsic part of our daily lives. Over the course of the next 10 years, the use of this technology will vary from managing our calendars to organising meetings and even booking appointments.

AI will also impact our interactions with other technology. Consider the widespread development of driverless cars or smart home technology, for example. As our digital capabilities become more advanced, an increasing number of devices will become “smart,” and AI interfaces will become increasingly common.

In the workplace, in particular, AI-enabled productivity will become increasingly common. Robots will become a standard element, working alongside humans to perform repetitive, mundane tasks and free their colleagues to work on more complicated projects.

There are many ways in which AI could evolve to complement our daily lives, and many different factors which could guide it along its path. However the development of this remarkable technology unfolds though, what we can say with certainty is that AI is here to stay.

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