IBM Launches Watson Virtual Agent

IBM has introduced Watson Virtual Agent, a cognitive conversational technology that allows businesses to simply build and deploy conversational agents.

Watson Virtual Agent allows users to build and train engagement bots from the cloud, harnessing the power of cognitive technologies and deep natural language processing capabilities that can be used to assist consumers.

IBM's conversational capabilities enable users to build solutions that can be deployed across platforms, whether on social media, SMS, mobile app, embedded within a website, or even in other form factors, like robotics.

"Our platform continues to evolve as we tap IBM's science and research capabilities to enhance our services," said David Kenny, general manager of IBM Watson, in a statement. "IBM is advancing the technologies on the platform in the area of conversation, all with a mission of helping brands transform their customer experience, empowering users to create solutions that deepen engagement and facilitate stronger, more positive interactions."

Companies like Staples, Autodesk, and the Weather Company are now creating applications and services embedded with IBM's conversational technologies.

Staples is using Watson Conversation in its "Easy System," bringing the on-demand world to customers, allowing them to order anytime, anywhere, from any device they prefer. By tapping into Watson, Staples will now offer a seamless ordering interface for customers across their ecosystem whether it's via their Easy Button, through the app, over Facebook Messenger or with a Slackbot. The interface simplifies the customers' shopping experience, allowing them to quickly reorder supplies, track shipments or chat about customer service needs.

Autodesk is using Watson in its Otto bot to deliver anytime, anywhere, any channel service, support, and information to customers and partners. In the pilot testing phase, Otto enabled Autodesk to increase its ticket resolution time by 99 percent and significantly improve customer satisfaction.

The Weather Company has created a bot for Facebook Messenger that serves up personalized weather content. Users can receive specific weather information based on individual interests and news preferences, creating a personalized weather experience based on call and response interactions within Messenger.

Watson services, like Watson Virtual Agent and the Watson Conversation API, draw on advances in natural language processing, machine learning, and deep learning. These conversational capabilities join existing Watson services such as IBM Watson Tone Analyzer, Watson Speech to Text and Watson Text to Speech, offering users a full suite of cognitive capabilities to build conversational agents and other solutions.

Both Watson Virtual Agent and Watson Conversation are offered as cloud-based services, which allows for ongoing enhancements to content and capabilities. The services are available on the IBM Marketplace and via the Watson Developer Cloud on Bluemix.

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