What happened to the manual?

Many of the things we take for granted in today’s technology space were once far from commonplace. They were very much a novelty. A new refrigerator, television or microwave was something of an event. And it came with a manual. But now a new model is taking shape, one that is changing the boundaries of how technology evolves. Welcome to the world of real customer driven innovation.

In the 1970’s the arrival of the new television was not only a family event, but one that was treated with an almost reverential attitude. Someone was dedicated to the task of reading, usually out loud, the instructions to others more focussed on the actual doing. It was unthinkable that you would just hit the obvious “on” button and see what happened.

However, for those who were not schooled in the days of the last millennium, a different approach now applies. This is no more clearly exemplified than by the arrival of Siri. You see Siri has no set up, nor a manual. In fact the user has no idea what Siri can and cannot do. You can of course ask Siri, “What can you do?” But aside from this, users are somehow expected to figure it out. Or are they?

I believe there is a shift happening here in how organisations will fulfil user expectations and develop products, and it’s more subtle than the gimmicks of the TV ads supporting Siri’s launch. I think this shift works on two levels.

Firstly, it’s kind of the end of the manual. Instead one should have a complete lack of fear of messing the situation up and just try it. If it doesn’t work, so what? I’ve noticed how much more readily children adopt this process than those of us trained by older incarnations of technology. We were taught the importance of doing the right things, in the right sequence or risk major consequences. Today you do what you like, when you like and the technology will figure it out. Having no fear is the key. Of course, what we are witnessing here is actually even more subtle. For one thing, Apple has tapped into the openness of the child’s exploratory mind to build something that is way more natural to them than to the old cronies. This of course is very smart in terms of brand loyalty and long term differentiation.

Secondly, and quite possibly the most important point, is all about the concept that – if it doesn’t work, so what? Or at least that may well be the end user’s point of view, but there is far more at work behind the scenes. You see, Apple is listening, even to the inputs given to Siri that she doesn’t understand. They are learning from them. The machine is learning. The machine is analysing the inputs and comparing them in terms of frequency and intent. So they know which things are most frequently asked that Siri doesn’t understand and as a consequence they are able to focus their efforts on continuously improving Siri in the ways in which most users want. All unseen to the end user.

To do this requires something special.

You need to be able to capture and store this vast amount of conversational data somewhere, and on the scale of Siri, that is what the industry would call a “big data” problem. But beyond that it is necessary to be able to interpret the data so that when a user says “what was the score in the Dodgers game” or equally “Did the Dodgers win tonight?”, the system is capable of figuring out that when ‘Dodgers’ is mentioned, it is most statistically likely to be referring to the LA baseball team and that these two phrases are both linked in terms of topic – “the Dodgers” and intent – “give me the result”. Furthermore, the system needs to be able to do this by trawling through and comparing millions and millions of inputs; something that is way beyond the faculties of a single individual.
To do this of course needs tools, the much vaunted machine learning tools, and in this case with the added twist of being natural language based machine learning tools.

Although we have focussed here on Siri, because it is something many can relate to, this problem is just as important for others to solve as Apple. If the new user model is the “no manual” world – and I believe it is – then everyone who wants to communicate with their customers will have to address this problem. Whether you are a retailer, a telco, an automobile manufacturer or a games console manufacturer, you will all have to get knowledge from your end users in their own voice and build constant improvement capabilities into your offerings. Gone are the days of focus groups and surveys, welcome to the world of real customer driven innovation. Companies that successfully implement these techniques will easily steal the initiative from the more conservative “manual printing” competition and with it will increase brand value and customer loyalty.

We at Artificial Solutions are ahead of the curve here. Our unique Teneo natural language platform enables you to build applications on the web, smartphones, wearables, in car or in the home to interact with your customers in their own language. It does this in a hugely intelligent manner that is also amazingly quick, accurate and intuitive.

But perhaps of even more importance, these applications can act as a “data pump” to populate your data lakes of customer understanding. The Teneo platform doesn’t just stop there though. Our Natural Language Analytics capability enables you to store these huge volumes of unstructured natural language data and derive understanding from it by utilising techniques like machine learning. Machine learning that could put you ahead of your competitors as you adopt customer led innovations in the sure knowledge they are exactly what your customers, the market, wants.

And, as if that wasn’t enough, we and the Teneo platform are already taking this to the next level. One where your customers can interact with you in their own voice and receive a 100% uniquely personalised experience. Imagine a truly personal experience for all of your millions of customers – with no overhead to the customer and no overhead to you.

How does Teneo do this?

By using the data you’ve already collected from your customers using your applications to interrogate that data in real time to personalize the response and service. The user gets a uniquely tailored experience but never has to set up preferences or options, instead we just learn in real time from their behaviour.

Just one more reason why you should be embracing Natural Language Interaction and the Teneo Platform from Artificial Solutions.


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