By Beroe Inc.
By Anand Kannan, Research Analyst, Software and IT Services
In this competitive market, organizations are always on the lookout to transform their business units into more profitable ones. Artificial Intelligence solutions have transformed the way business units function. One such AI solution, Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA), has had a major positive impact with respect to customer experiences/customer interactions in contact centers.
The global IVA market is expected to grow by approximately 37% during the period 2016-2024 and reach $12 billion by 2024. Telecommunications, retail, hospitality and consumer banking are sectors where organizations have implemented IVAs. The deployments in these sectors have resulted in significant business benefits such as cost optimization, operational efficiency, higher revenue and improved customer experience.
The supplier market for IVA consists of both global and niche suppliers. Predictive Analytics is the key capability that determines the success of an IVA solution. The IVA should learn with each customer interaction which would further refine the interaction process and responses without any human intervention.
Multi-lingual capabilities, integration with third-party systems such as SAP, Oracle and others and speech-to-text capabilities are not well established at present and provide the scope for further technological improvement of the IVA solution.
What is an IVA?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies have been continuously evolving and transforming the manner in which organizations conduct business. Intelligent Virtual Assistant is an AI technology that has capabilities to perform tasks like humans. IVA interacts with customers through websites or applications and responds to queries immediately without the need for human intervention.
Intelligent Virtual Assistant uses Natural Language Processing (NLP), machine learning, data integration, speech recognition and other such technologies to provide an efficient customer engagement platform. Below is the architectural layout of an IVA. Third-party software and services (Salesforce, SAP, Oracle etc.), knowledge bank (product and service details, query resolution guidelines, etc.) and customer interaction database (data from previous customer interactions) are the critical backend tools with which the solution is integrated.
Need for IVA:
With businesses going digital, customers are increasingly preferring online interaction methods rather than telephonic conversations with a customer/sales representative. The real time conversational nature and accurate personalized responses of Intelligent Virtual Assistants has been critical in providing seamless and satisfying customer experiences. Customer experiences directly impact the overall revenue of a business. Hence, providing the ideal customer experience is what each organization is striving for. Forrester reports highlight the importance of time to respond and have quoted based on the researchers analysis that “71% of consumers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service.”
Intelligent Virtual Assistants are proving to be the ideal solution to respond to customer queries in a timely, precise, actionable and, most important, human manner. IVA has been adopted in telecom, hospitality and retail sectors to reduce the total contact center operation cost:
Retail. Disney stores, a global retail giant, have always looked for innovative solutions to improve business. Disney wanted to reduce the number of informational calls made by customers to their contact centers for shipment, tracking and return purposes. Disney deployed an IVA solution to meet this objective. The deployment was a massive success. Approximately 45,000 questions per month with an accuracy of 97% was achieved.
Telecommunications. Movistar, part of the Telefonica group, has an extensive presence in Latin America. Movistar wanted to deploy a solution through which it could decrease the total support center operating cost. The IVA solution was assessed and deployed and resulted in reduction of incoming support calls and emails by approximately 75%.
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Supplier Market Landscape
IVA is predicted to be the most influential customer AI technology by 2020. This estimation coupled with the increasing customer adoption has led to a heterogeneous market for IVA with the presence of global as well as niche suppliers.
Global suppliers include: 7 Inc., Artificial Solutions, IBM Watson, Interactions, Next IT, Nuance Communications.
Niche suppliers include: Aivo, Creative Virtual, Inbenta, Kasisto, noHold, Verbio.
For an organization looking to deploy an Intelligent Virtual Assistant solution, the choice of IVA solution should be made based on a balanced assessment of the internal requirement as well as the solution capabilities. The following capabilities are critical to the efficient functioning of an IVA:
Intelligent Virtual Assistant Solutions have been deployed for customer-centric business units such as sales, marketing and support. Solutions for other business units such as human resources, procurement and finance are still in its nascent stages. Suppliers have expressed that IVA solutions for other business units can also be effective if the total volume of interactions is high (more than 1 million).
Anand Kannan, Research Analyst, Software and IT Services at Beroe, Inc., is a sourcing professional who assists Fortune 500 clients with their Software and IT Services requirements. He holds an MBA in Marketing and Finance from SSN School of Management.
Beroe is a global provider of customized procurement services specializing in sourcing, supply chain visibility, financial risk analysis and environmental impact to Fortune 500 organizations. With nearly 400 dedicated procurement specialists in 38 domains, across 9 industries, Beroe proactively invests in knowledge assets to build valuable, real-time procurement insight. For more information, visit Beroe Inc. online.
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