By Uljan Sharka, CEO & Founder, iGenius
It was 2011 when Apple released the iPhone 4 and introduced Siri, a “virtual assistant,” to millions of consumers. A software tool that could answer questions, provide information and take actions in response to voice commands was a relatively new idea, but it didn’t take long for people to get comfortable talking to Siri and for other virtual assistants to enter homes and mobile devices. Right now, 4.2 billion digital voice assistants are being used in devices around the world. Forecasts suggest that by 2024, the number of digital voice assistants will reach 8.4 billion–more than the world’s population. Virtual assistants are helping people do everything from manage their schedules to play their favorite movies. But they can–and should–be doing bigger, higher-value jobs like helping businesses manage and gain insight from their data.
From virtual assistant to consumers to virtual advisor to businesses
Enter the virtual data advisor: the next evolutionary step that enhances and improves on the consumer-facing virtual assistant and delivers new benefits to businesses. The business world has more than enough software programs and apps that store, organize and analyze data. But those programs are limited by their accessibility. If accessing and interpreting data to achieve an insight requires a computer science degree and hours of training on a specific software platform, the data loses much, if not all, of its usefulness. Access to in-context data combined with insights customized to individual users has the opposite effect. A recent report from Gartner highlighted the “decline of the dashboard” and a shift toward “dynamic consumer-focused insights in context” as a key trend in 2020: “Dynamic insights and data stories are delivered to all users based on changes in KPIs relevant to the user without manual authoring or exploration.” That is precisely what a dynamic virtual data advisor should do.
If data shows a correlation between billing dates and Company X’s user base shrinking at the beginning of each month, it’s crucially important to get that information to user experience leaders before the next month begins.
That’s what crystal, the virtual advisor for data intelligence created by iGenius, does for businesses. crystal is an augmented analytics advisor that combines sophisticated understanding of business data and jargon with a seamless conversational and humanized user experience. When spoken to, it speaks the language of business (think “EBITDA” and “burn rate”) but also speaks everyday language, seamlessly combining the two to meet the needs of the user, whether it’s a Chief Technology Officer or Customer Experience Associate. crystal finds patterns and correlations without being asked, and shares them at the right time to make them as useful as possible.
Faster analysis and broader access, not more data
Just as an assistant built into a phone or computer operating system can combine data streams like weather and traffic to tell you when to leave for an appointment, crystal instantly combines and compares sets of business data to give you the information and insights you need right now. Heading into a big sales meeting? Ask crystal the last time you met with this client and the outcome of the meeting to inform your next sales strategy. Ready to purchase raw materials for your factory? Ask crystal how quickly you used up the last order to tell you whether to buy more or less this time. The examples are nearly endless but the central benefit of crystal is simple: access the business data you need, with context and insights, using only your voice, the exact moment you need it. To be clear, crystal does not make data suddenly available to people who didn’t previously have access to it, but it does streamline that access, making it available tens or hundreds of times faster than with traditional methods.
Insights for every industry that are always updating
While data-heavy industries like finance and manufacturing clearly have much to gain from using more efficient data and analytics platforms, crystal works for every business category and type of data. European giants in energy, insurance and pharmaceuticals–Enel, Allianz and Janssen (owned by Johnson & Johnson), respectively–have all experienced the efficiency and other benefits of applying crystal to their business data.
These Fortune 500 businesses and dozens of others have already seen what a virtual advisor can do for their bottom lines. Thanks to her AI engine (also known as a Business Knowledge Graph) crystal transfers and uses her knowledge base to and for multiple applications. For example, if an insurance company is using crystal, she will transfer and use her pretrained knowledge base and then incorporate only new insurance-related training or language on top of her base.
crystal uses another technology, called incremental learning, to maximize usage of her knowledge base. For many AIs, each upgrade requires the entire system to be retrained from scratch and then the additional data sets to be added. With incremental learning, crystal only adds new data on top of its consistent base. It’s like adding new words to your vocabulary, as opposed to learning the language from scratch.
The next step: Efficiency of analysis and operation
In addition to cutting down on the time required to access and analyze data from hours to seconds, crystal introduces other efficiencies to business operations. crystal’s quick setup, transfer learning and incremental learning result in training and operations that, compared to most AIs, require less data, less time, and less computing power. Furthermore, crystal is trained with central processing units (CPUs) as opposed to an industry standard of graphic processing units (GPUs) wherever possible. In a world where sustainability in businesses has become a necessity, this efficient use of energy for computing is a must-have.
Virtual assistants are already doing many of the simple tasks in our personal lives that we used to take on every day. It’s time that we apply that same paradigm to the business world, where data drives everything. When you have a virtual advisor like crystal to organize, analyze and make data accessible and human-like while using a fraction of the time, energy and computing power you used to need to do the same job, you’ve achieved the next level of AI-enhanced business operation.