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April 2014, Volume 2, Number 2

Virtual assistant technology: More than just IBM Watson

IBM's megacomputer Watson is not the only game in town when it comes to complex, deep learning technology for the enterprise. "There are more cost-effective ways to enter the market and start applying those same disciplines to provide a better customer experience," said Dan Miller, founder and senior analyst at Opus Research. Specifically, the use of virtual agents that harness artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language to ascertain the purpose of a question and get the answers quickly. The difference is virtual agents tap into a finite data set rather than the unlimited sea of information available to Watson. While IBM's technology has its place in sophisticated applications in the health care and pharmaceutical industries, it can be overkill when it comes to customer self-service uses. "Watson is great in a highly complex environment, but it was never designed to be low-labor intensive," said David Lloyd, CEO of virtual agent provider IntelliResponse. "If all you are trying to do is help a customer get to a...

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