ServisBOT: advancing chatbot technology
Business Chief speaks to Cathal McGloin, CEO of ServisBOT, shining a spotlight on the startup comapny that's striving to advance chatbot technology.
1. Could you tell me a little bit about what your company does?
Founded in 2016, ServisBOT recognized the opportunity for businesses to avail of advances in chatbot technology to significantly improve customer and employee engagement. ServisBOT’s Conversational AI Platform now enables global businesses to more easily build chatbot solutions, using tools and services that demystify artificial intelligence and make it possible for business users to create a chatbot. As an example, the Customer Lifecycle Manager at AA Ireland was able to use the ServisBOT platform to create an insurance policy Quote Bot, and a Customer Service Bot, which integrate with Zendesk live chat so that conversations can be seamlessly transferred to an AA employee if the bot is unable to resolve a query. The chatbot platform also offers features and tooling for enterprise developers to address critical enterprise concerns around data integration, security, performance, and scalability.
2. What gives your company its competitive edge?
Single chatbot implementations can hit a wall as more capability is added over time. Some more advanced chatbot business users are experiencing this breakpoint phenomenon as their chatbots grow in the number of intents/utterances they have to handle. To overcome this, ServisBOT has introduced a unique concept of a multi-bot architecture, whereby a single virtual assistant orchestrates and coordinates multiple task-oriented bots. This architecture is critical for businesses that want to roll out multiple chatbot solutions while ensuring a consistent and coordinated user experience across the organization, rather than implementing single chatbot solutions that exist in silos and reach limitations as they grow in capabilities.
Because ServisBOT focuses on enterprise solutions where it has extensive prior experience, security is also an important differentiator and one that is increasingly separating the chatbot tooling providers from the enterprise chatbot platform vendors. A business chatbot that is deployed to engage with customers and/or employees needs to access internal data. Without all the necessary security, authentication and access measures, business chatbots can risk serious and costly data breaches. ServisBOT offers end-to-end security measures that satisfy the most rigorous and regulated industry standards.
3. What was your last major milestone / award?
We have just achieved AWS Machine Learning ISV Partner Competency which is an important milestone for us and demonstrates ServisBOT’s expertise in the ML industry and shows that ServisBOT has undergone an AWS assessment of the security, performance and reliability of its platform.
In the past three months ServisBOT has also been shortlisted for 4 Awards for the implementation of its conversational AI platform at AA Ireland. Within twelve weeks of training and implementing its Quote Bot, AA Ireland saw online quote to policy conversion rates increase by 11 percent. Where customers have used Quote Bot to answer their initial queries, they spend 40 percent less time on the phone with AA Ireland’s call centre staff and missed live webchats have been reduced by 80 percent. As a result, AA Ireland and ServisBOT have been shortlisted for the following awards:
4. Is there any exciting news you’d like to share with our Business Chief readers?
We are seeing great adoption of chatbots across many sectors but are really excited to see how companies are now maturing and innovating with the technology. One of the most exciting innovators that we see is the insurance industry which has embraced conversational AI in some unique ways. Chatbots are going beyond simple question-and-answer assistants to bring a whole new level of automation from the point of initial customer engagement right through to resolution. As such, conversations are meeting business processes in unprecedented ways, driving increased speed and convenience and reduced friction and costs. As this trend develops we see the line between chatbot technology and robotic process automation (RPA) increasingly blurring.
5. What can we expect from your company in 2020?
As a company, we expect to grow significantly during 2020. We are continuing to innovate and push the boundaries of chatbot technology, leveraging advancements in natural language processing (NLP) and Machine Learning. We have just achieved AWS Machine Learning ISV Partner Competency which is an important milestone for us. In 2020 we will continue to advance our AWS certifications within our teams and plan to achieve further recognition and competencies. Our engineering and development teams work on agile principles so we push updates in ever-shorter sprints. This enables us to respond quickly to market and customer demands. Our multi-bot architecture with the superhero virtual assistant is going to be a winner in 2020.
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How changing your company's software code can prevent bias
Two-third of tech professionals believe organizations aren’t doing enough to address racial inequality. After all, many companies will just hire a DEI consultant, have a few training sessions and call it a day.
Wanting to take a unique yet impactful approach to DEI, Deltek, the leading global provider of software and solutions for project-based businesses, took a look at and removed all exclusive terminology in their software code. By removing terms such as ‘master’ and ‘blacklist’ from company coding, Deltek is working to ensure that diversity and inclusion are woven into every aspect of their organization.
Business Chief North America talks to Lisa Roberts, Senior Director of HR and Leader of Diversity & Inclusion at Deltek to find out more.
Why should businesses today care about removing company bias within their software code?
We know that words can have a profound impact on people and leave a lasting impression. Many of the words that have been used in a technology environment were created many years ago, and today those words can be harmful to our customers and employees. Businesses should use words that will leave a positive impact and help create a more inclusive culture in their organization
What impact can exclusive terms have on employees?
Exclusive terms can have a significant impact on employees. It starts with the words we use in our job postings to describe the responsibilities in the position and of course, we also see this in our software code and other areas of the business. Exclusive terminology can be hurtful, and even make employees feel unwelcome. That can impact a person’s desire to join the team, stay at a company, or ultimately decide to leave. All of these critical actions impact the bottom line to the organization.
Please explain how Deltek has removed bias terminology from its software code
Deltek’s engineering team has removed biased terminology from our products, as well as from our documentation. The terms we focused on first that were easy to identify include blacklist, whitelist, and master/slave relationships in data architecture. We have also made some progress in removing gendered language, such as changing he and she to they in some documentation, as well as heteronormative language. We see this most commonly in pick lists that ask to identify someone as your husband or wife. The work is not done, but we are proud of how far we’ve come with this exercise!
What steps is Deltek taking to ensure biased terminology doesn’t end up in its code in the future?
What we are doing at Deltek, and what other organizations can do, is to put accountability on employees to recognize when this is happening – if you see something, say something! We also listen to feedback our customers give us and have heard their feedback on this topic. Those are both very reactive things of course, but we are also proactive. We have created guidance that identifies words that are more inclusive and also just good practice for communicating in a way that includes and respects others.
What advice would you give to other HR leaders who are looking to enhance DEI efforts within company technology?
My simple advice is to start with what makes sense to your organization and culture. Doing nothing is worse than doing something. And one of the best places to start is by acknowledging this is not just an HR initiative. Every employee owns the success of D&I efforts, and employees want to help the organization be better. For example, removing bias terminology was an action initiated by our Engineering and Product Strategy teams at Deltek, not HR. You can solicit the voices of employees by asking for feedback in engagement surveys, focus groups, and town halls. We hear great recommendations from employees and take those opportunities to improve.