Nuance’s Cognitive Arbitrator Connects AI Platforms for More Streamlined Self-Service

Nuance Communications has debuted an artificial intelligence-powered cognitive arbitrator, which will connect and integrate virtual assistants with third-party service providers through an interface that works across the automotive, smart-home, and Internet of Things (IoT) spaces and provides consumers with a more direct, streamlined self-service route.

While Nuance powers virtual assistants for companies in the banking, retail, telecom, and airline industries, many consumers use popular voice assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home in lieu of stand-alone assistant apps. Ensuring a smooth customer service experience that leverages both specific voice assistant apps and mainstream assistants is an integration challenge, but the cognitive arbitrator promises to mitigate the issue, noted Kenneth Harper, president of emerging solutions at Nuance, said in a company statement.

“By 2020, there will be 26 billion intelligent, capable, and connected devices armed with conversational virtual assistants that manage nearly every possible consumer experience. These assistants all have strengths and specialties, but today, they rarely communicate with each other or work together across devices, and it’s the consumer who loses out. Plus, brands are forced to make rigid choices about whether to build their own highly specialized assistants or leverage open, general-purpose assistants.”

With the cognitive arbitrator tool in place, brands won’t necessarily have to make that choice anymore. If users ask an Alexa device for their bank balance, the cognitive arbitrator will facilitate a response through the personal banking assistant but deliver the response through Alexa—this means the user no longer has to ask multiple assistants before getting a response. The tool will also learn on the job, picking up patterns and behaviors to ensure that it pulls up information from the right virtual assistant for the task.

The technology comes at a time when consumers are increasingly purchasing popular virtual assistant hardware and relying on it more than they have in the past. And once there’s such device in the home, consumers aren’t likely to buy additional, redundant devices. This requires that brands’ own virtual assistants be compatible with different types of technologies.

“The AI vendors are making their voice platforms available to third parties because let’s face it, it’s more about proliferating ecosystems than getting rich from hardware margins,” wrote Werner Goertz, research director within Gartner's Personal Technologies team, in a blog post.

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