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Why Collaborative Intelligence is the Future of Work

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Callan Schebella CEO, Inference Solutions

Callan is the CEO at Inference Solutions and is based in the Austin office. He has worked his entire career in Voice Automation, Machine Learning and related technologies.

What is Collaborative Intelligence? 

As H. James Wilson and Paul R. Daugherty explained in their Harvard Business Review article “Collaborative Intelligence: Humans and AI are Joining Forces”:

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IS BECOMING GOOD AT MANY “HUMAN” JOBS—DIAGNOSING DISEASE, TRANSLATING LANGUAGES, PROVIDING CUSTOMER SERVICE—AND IT’S IMPROVING FAST. THIS IS RAISING REASONABLE FEARS THAT AI WILL ULTIMATELY REPLACE HUMAN WORKERS THROUGHOUT THE ECONOMY. BUT THAT’S NOT THE INEVITABLE, OR EVEN MOST LIKELY, OUTCOME. NEVER BEFORE HAVE DIGITAL TOOLS BEEN SO RESPONSIVE TO US, NOR WE TO OUR TOOLS. WHILE AI WILL RADICALLY ALTER HOW WORK GETS DONE AND WHO DOES IT, THE TECHNOLOGY’S LARGER IMPACT WILL BE IN COMPLEMENTING AND AUGMENTING HUMAN CAPABILITIES, NOT REPLACING THEM.  

At Five9, we subscribe to this philosophy. We believe that through collaborative intelligence, humans and AI will actively enhance each other’s complementary strengths. Machines will bring speed and scale, while humans bring empathy and judgement. We want to deliver AI that amplifies the abilities of contact center agents, supervisors, and managers. We also want to help better train and advance AI through the knowledge held by contact center leaders.  

To accomplish this, we are building solutions that help contact center workers do extraordinary things – things that can only be achieved when people and machines work together as one. Today, our intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) improve upon traditional IVRs, giving consumers a conversational self-service experience that also relieves agents of boring and routine work, enabling them to focus on more complicated problems. When a customer does need help from a live agent, the call or chat is delivered to an agent along with the transcript of the self-service conversation, allowing the conversation to continue seamlessly. Our AI then stays on the call to coach the agent and automate note taking and call summarization. The agent can even hand a call back to the AI to do things like collecting a payment or conducting a survey. After the call, supervisors use our AI to analyze interactions to understand how to train agents by identifying areas where engagement quality might be slipping. They can also identify new opportunities for automation. 

Our Mission 

Our mission is to help businesses give their customers that moment of delight - felt only when they discover that their problem has been resolved without friction, without frustration. To achieve this, we belief that organizations need AI embedded into their Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) platforms. This embedded AI will empower the human workforce to effectively “punch above their weight,” helping the contact center respond to both the increasing volume and complexity of interactions without burning out their agents and causing churn. 

To help our customers deliver service and support that delights and never frustrates, we are investing in five key areas: 

Practical AI 

For AI to be useful, it must be practical. Great technology that’s too difficult to deploy will never reach your workforce and will never improve your service experience. In a 2020 study we commissioned of 500 IT decision makers, roughly three out of four of those surveyed indicated that they believed intelligent automation would benefit customers and employees. 

Text Description automatically generated with medium confidenceHowever, when asked what was standing in their way cost, reliance on professional services projects and time to develop were the top three barriers.  

Graphical user interface, text, application, chat or text message Description automatically generated To deploy AI that amplifies the abilities of humans in the contact center, a new generation of tools is required. Business can’t wait months for development teams to build and train the AI that will assist their customers and employees. A core benefit of collaborative intelligence is the agility it gives organizations to optimize and adapt their business processes based on changing business conditions. 

workflowThat’s why we’ve developed no-code tools that enable non-technical administrators to build sophisticated self-service and agent assist applications. Applications are developed by simply dragging and dropping nodes onto a canvas to create dialogues. An extensive library of templates makes it easier to get started while backend fulfillment is simplified. Applications can even trigger workflows to automate after call work. 

We’re also bringing the same type of innovation to tools that help contact center managers determine what to automate and then simplify the process of training and optimizing the AI. These tools analyze the conversations between customers and agents to determine the types of questions being asked and suggest possible categories of “intents” to build. Once the AI is deployed it uncovers new ways consumers ask those questions and allow humans to be “in the loop” to train the AI.   

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To further optimize performance, we surface insights that show call center performance overlayed with analysis of the conversation between the agent and the customer. For example, we show call volume and average handle time alongside a graph of which intents are matched (or which types of questions customers are asking). This can help contact center managers understand the root cause of things like longer handle times or decreases in automation rates. 

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Embedded & Persistent AI 

To achieve maximum results, AI should be available throughout the customer journey, to provide support before, during and after engagement with a person. It should also be available to front-line agents as they provide service. It should also be available to administrators and managers as they analyze how to improve performance and adapt to changing business conditions. For this reason, we are embedding AI into the core fabric of our platform. Today our virtual agents and our agent assist solution leverage a common workflow automation layer and can share common components to preserve context as users journey from one channel to another and from self-service to live agent service. Our VoiceStream API enables our suite of AI solutions, as well as those of our ISV partners, to access real-time audio and data from live agent conversations.  

Access to Innovation 

Innovation comes from many sources.  Five9 believes in providing our customers with access to the latest and most powerful innovation. This gives our customers choice and reduces their dependence on a single vendor. That’s the reason that we architected our Five9 IVAs with an abstraction layer, which enables our self-service applications to access conversational AI engines from vendors like Google, Amazon and IBM. Applications gain unlimited access to our partners’ services. A single application can even make calls to multiple engines. For example, a task might use one engine for voice authentication, another for sentiment analysis and a third for natural language understanding. Our customers also get access to a wide variety of ISV applications through our CX Marketplace. 

Peer Collaboration 

At Five9 we think that Collaborative Intelligence isn’t just about humans working with machines. It’s also about being able to learn from your peers. To help our customers understand how their performance compares to peers in similar industries, we plan to develop ways for them to view and compare success against key performance indicators.   

The Future of Work 

Collaborative Intelligence has the potential to have a profoundly positive effect on the future of contact center work. It can empower agents, supervisors, and administrators. It can provide new insights and it can help businesses innovate at an accelerated pace. It can also pave the way for new jobs as people develop the skills to leverage new tools to build, train and optimize the AI.  

We believe that the future is collaborative, and that our potential is limitless. We look forward to the journey ahead. 

For more information about Five9 IVA, read our solution guide. For more information about Agent Assist, check out this datasheet.   

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Placeholder image
Callan Schebella CEO, Inference Solutions

Callan is the CEO at Inference Solutions and is based in the Austin office. He has worked his entire career in Voice Automation, Machine Learning and related technologies.

Call 1-800-553-8159 to learn more about Five9