Pega Intelligent Virtual Assistant Takes Bots to a Level of Dynamic Engagement

The new capability aims to meet typically disappointed expectations with regard to bots which have amounted to little more than simple chat bots and data-fetching novelties.

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While the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) is limitless, at least in the minds of its most fervent supporters and detractors, it’s performance so far has been modest—particularly in the case with the use of AI in chatbots applied to insurance customer service. Pegasystems (Cambridge, Mass.) appeals to that somewhat disappointing performance in its announcement of the launch of Pega Intelligent Virtual Assistant, part of the vendor’s Pega Platform.

The vendor describes the new capability as an artificial intelligence (AI) powered bot that easily turns applications into smart assistants on any channel, from SMS and email to Facebook, Alexa, Slack, and more. Pega contrasts the new capability with bots best describes as simple chatbots and “data-fetching novelties” with Pega Intelligent Virtual Assistant’s ability to create sophisticated digital agents that anticipate people’s needs, make helpful suggestions, complete complex tasks, and provide exceptional experiences.

Pega notes that, despite the hype, today’s chatbots and virtual assistants don’t provide the human-like experiences they’ve been promised to deliver. “Customers and employees are left with one-dimensional interactions in stilted language that perform only the simplest of tasks and add little value,” a vendor statement asserts.

According to a global survey on AI conducted by the vendor, only 20 percent of consumers prefer chat-based customer service, and 80 percent still want a live human typing on the other end. Meanwhile, developers struggle to build and manage even more bots for the latest channels and establish a connected experience between them all.

Pega Intelligent Virtual Assistant overcomes these shortfalls by extending any Pega enterprise application to any conversational interface, according to the vendor. By doing so, Pega says it turns these channels into intelligent assistants that make personalized customer service and real work possible using natural language in voice or text. That, the vendor elaborates, makes bots more intelligent, useful, and gratifying for customers and employees to use in a variety of scenarios, such as the following, by Pega’s description:

  • A banking bot alerts a customer checking her balance on Alexa to a suspicious charge, opens a charge dispute, and orders her a new card, all in the same session using natural language.
  • A mobile service provider bot helps a subscriber on Facebook Messenger understand why he went over his data limit, suggests a plan better suited for his lifestyle, and immediately activates it so he can continuing streaming the big game.
  • A company’s internal IT helpdesk bot helps an employee diagnose a laptop problem with a series of questions, opens a trouble ticket with the IT staff, and seamlessly connects her to a helpdesk staff member if the issue becomes more complex.

Pega asserts that its decades of customer engagement and operational efficiency technology experience, have enabled the vendor to provide the most complete bot solution in the market by uniquely combining:

  • AI with predictive analytics and decisioning that senses user need and offers the right solution at the right moment for a hyper-personalized experience.
  • Natural language processing (NLP) and text analytics that make it intuitive for people to engage in a way that they normally speak or type.
  • A unified architecture that enables people to seamlessly move from one channel to the next – including from a bot to a human agent if needed – and pick up exactly where they left off.
  • A code-free development environment that makes it easy for any business user to configure, simulate, and manage the bot to achieve her business goals.
  • Case Management and Business Process Management (BPM) that drive work behind the scenes to make conversational UX (user experiences) more useful, practical, and functional.

Pega Intelligent Virtual Assistant comes preconfigured to extend to Facebook Messenger, Alexa, and Google Home. The vendor says that business users can easily build their own extenders to other popular messaging apps such as WeChat and Skype, as well as business collaboration apps such as Slack and Yammer. Organizations can test their bots with an integrated simulator in the native interface, to ensure the virtual assistant responds as intended before live deployment.

The vendor reports that Pega Intelligent Virtual Assistant will be available in June 2017 as what it calls a key capability of the Pega Platform, Pega’s model-driven application development environment. The vendor asserts that it can extend any Pega application—including CRM apps for marketing, sales, and customer service and any custom-built Pega apps—with conversational UX functionality. The Pega Customer Decision Hub provides the virtual assistant with AI power to analyze information, anticipate needs, and make optimal decisions, the vendor adds.

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Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For over a decade he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at AnthODonnell@IIReporter.com or (503) 936-2803.

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