Improving Customer Experiences with Voice-Based Virtual Interfaces

Many companies depend on new technologies such as AI, ML and IoT. AI and voice-enabled technologies can lead companies through a digital transformation and keep them ahead of the competition.

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Image of a Google Home with a speech bubble that says
Illustration: © IoT For All

Digital transformation initiatives have had far-reaching effects across businesses around the world. According to market research, digital transformation is expected to grow at a CAGR of 24.3 percent between 2018 and 2025. Organizations investing in digital transformation are innovating much faster than their peers. Those who don’t follow an innovative business model and a digital strategy are likely to fall behind the competition.

Many new-age companies are disrupting the business by using technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, the Internet of Things and Blockchain. While the market’s becoming increasingly competitive, organizations’ IT budgets are also shrinking.  This changing business arena is forcing enterprises to spend a sizeable chunk of their budget on transformational activities while optimizing their existing processes. How does one maintain a competitive advantage over others? Using cognitive, artificial intelligence and voice-enabled technologies is certainly a step in the right direction to outthink the competition.

From GUI to Voice Interaction

The best way is to apply cognitive technologies to prioritized areas of operation. For a truly digital experience, we need to go beyond apps/ Graphic User Interfaces (GUI) and build on voice-based interaction systems. There’s been a lot of excitement around ‘conversational interfaces’, which happens to be one of the major paradigm shifts in device interaction.

Amazon Alexa, Google Assistance and Siri are voice interfaces that provide a new way of interacting with home devices as well as business applications like conversational banking, commerce, analytics for contact centers and search, among others. Amazon’s Alexa is powering consumer electronics devices such as Amazon Echo, Amazon Tap and Echo Dot for developers to leverage Alexa’s capabilities at an enterprise level. This has managed to capture the market by supporting developers to build solutions around it.

Voice interface technology is relatively new and presents unlimited possibilities for organizations to explore. The business benefits of building technology capabilities using voice interface early on are numerous; it presents an incredible opportunity for organizations to enhance the consumer experience in their industry and get ahead of the curve. Similarly, voice-based systems can improve operational efficiency by updating applications’ health check, raising an alert in the case of an unforeseen scenario and acting smartly for remediation.

There are several voice-based application use cases across industries for digitally enabled business processes. We have seen revolutionary drug delivery transformations in the health industry like patient-controlled delivery systems, wearable injectors and microchip pills to support chronic diseases for improving a patient’s quality of life. Patient experiences are further improved by integrating drug delivery systems with smart devices and voice interface systems to notify in real-time on drug-consumptions and measure treatment effectiveness.

There have been significant technological innovations in the kitchen appliances industry as well.  Kitchen appliances are getting smarter with technological advancements such as voice control and artificial intelligence. These appliances have built-in intelligence and can be controlled via voice interface/smart devices which make your kitchen smarter. For instance, if the refrigerator is low on a particular item then an order for the same can be automatically placed, an oven can be pre-heated and a dishwasher activated via voice commands.

The Power of Voice for Applications

In the digital era, application ecosystems are becoming more complex. They are deployed across hybrid environments and integrated with multiple internal and external systems. Applications encounter two operational challenges. First, root cause analysis in case of application failure, which is compounded by the need to correlate events and data collected through various sources. Second, the prediction of application failure in advance. Performing these activities manually is challenging due to the large volume of data, multiple data sources and distinct failure scenarios.

An appropriate solution is a voice-based virtual assistant for applications, which can access relevant and actionable data related to application health. It can be trained to respond to various voice-based requests, related to application monitoring, performance data and health update in a way that makes it convenient for users to pull out relevant data and knowledge about the health status. Underneath this conversational system lies a monitoring system to capture performance metrics and a logging system for logging events for root cause analysis and detecting application symptoms of misbehavior. The system also uses a Machine Learning (ML) algorithm and trains the ML model to get the right mapping for event correlation and early prediction of application health issues.

The conversational interface gets application health status and performance data through application and system logs, which are accessible by answering natural language questions and simplified dialogs. This minimizes the need to develop a deep understanding of the monitoring/logging tool as the commands to pull operational data and health updates are based on voice interactions and don’t need to be accessed through execution of tool-specific commands on the console. This means that anyone in an organization can get immediately actionable answers. This makes the virtual application assistance system a convenient method of accessing application performance and log data anywhere and anytime, thereby leading to faster resolution of application specific operational issues.

Voice Interface: How It Works

Using natural language processing, the conversational interface takes your requests, processes them and returns relevant metrics in the form of natural-language responses. Underneath, the logging system collects the log data for parsing and enriching, the monitoring system collects the performance data and the deep search system allows queries of this data. It uses a supervised machine learning algorithm for analyzing log and monitoring data to give an early warning and problem resolution recommendations and exchanges this information over the voice interface.

Creating a Seamless Digital Experience

In the age of digital transformation, customer expectations are changing. It’s not just limited to the quality of service and fair pricing but also includes proactive service, personalized interactions and connected experiences across channels. Companies are on the edge to continuously reinvent their businesses with technology at the core to meet customer expectations and remain competitive in a fast-changing market.

The adoption of digital transformation requires innovation in operations management, with increasing use of infrastructure resources, complex application environments to handle millions of requests per seconds and 24/7 availability. This increases the application operation management cost substantially. Hence, the need of the hour is to provide better operational management experience, operation information available anywhere and anytime, decreased skilled resource dependency and early warnings of failure. These requirements can be handled through a voice interface enabled system, which provides easy access to operational information, integrates with AI/ML intelligence to provide early detection of the problem and quickly identifies the root cause to minimize outages.

Written by Akhilesh Laddha, Cloud Practice Director and Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff at Wipro Limited.