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Breaking through in artificial intelligence


Ask most people, in business or out of it, to think of artificial intelligence (AI), and the chances are one of the first things they’ll mention will be some form of human-computer interaction. It stands to reason – if it’s smart, we’re going to engage with it in some way.

If you then ask the same question of developers in particular, it’s highly likely that one of the first factors they, in turn, will mention will be the need for these interactions to be natural. If the system doesn’t understand someone’s words or intentions, or if it regularly acts inappropriately in a given context, it won’t be long before people get frustrated – and if that happens, the object will have been defeated. Worse still, the brand’s reputation will have been tarnished.

Virtual agents

All of which is why, here at Capgemini, we were so proud a few weeks ago to be able to announce we had won the AI Breakthrough Award for the Best Virtual Agent Solution. This year’s program attracted more than 2,500 nominations from more than 15 countries worldwide, and it was particularly exciting for us to find that Microsoft and Google also entered in the category we won.

Our winning entry was our “Cash Collections Assistant Powered by Artificial Intelligence.” Designed for use in both consumer and B2B environments, the solution aims to provide a natural customer services experience in the crucial business area of cash flow.

Our solution makes courtesy calls to businesses and individuals, reminding them that a payment will soon be expected. It also makes calls when debts are overdue. We’ve worked with best-of-breed third-party providers to make this service available in 24 languages, including less common tongues such as Dutch and Finnish, and in several accents too. For instance, English can be rendered in accents including British, American, and Australian. The solution can handle colloquial as well as more formal language, and it also emulates the occasional moments of hesitation in regular speech, to make the conversation feel more natural.

The intelligence that sits behind the solution is at least as important as the voice output. For instance, Cash Collections Assistant Powered by Artificial Intelligence recognizes promises to pay and logs them automatically, and it also can handle the early stages of a dispute. All of this reduces the number of repetitive collections tasks, enabling an augmented workforce, with human collectors focusing on more complex work, and handling process exceptions.

What’s more, the solution is integrated into back-end services such as SAP, so it’s part of an end-to-end approach. As time passes, we expect its capabilities to grow: the solution’s ability to mine corporate data for information will arm it with knowledge that any one individual call handler might not have.

The integrated nature of our approach is fundamental. Here, as is the case in pretty much everything we do at Capgemini, the solutions we develop are informed specifically by the processes and circumstances of the organization to which they are being applied. This isn’t technological gee-whizzery for its own sake: if there are no material business benefits for our clients, there is no point in taking things forward.

Looking ahead

The AI Breakthrough Awards are run by Tech Breakthrough, a leading market intelligence and recognition platform for competitive global technology markets. The aim of the awards, Tech Breakthrough says, is to honor excellence and recognize the creativity, hard work and success of companies, technologies and products in the field of AI.

The roll call of winners of these awards this year is impressive, and our own success is a source of great pride for us. Not just pride, though: it’s also a source of great encouragement. With digital transformation, our process-driven, client-specific, benefits-based approach to solutions development is entering an entirely new phase. These are exciting times.

Cash Collections Assistant Powered by Artificial Intelligence is part of Capgemini’s Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) offering. To learn more about how IPA can stimulate the erosion of organizational silos around your front, middle and back-office processes, resulting in the emergence of a new, borderless, highly automated client-centric organization, contact:

Miroslaw Bartecki is head of Capgemini’s Intelligent Automation Lab focused on adopting AI technologies into business services. He leverages the potential hidden in deep and machine learning to increase the speed, accuracy, and automation of processes.