Next IT’s New Engagement APIs Make Intelligent Virtual Assistants More Pervasive

Next IT is leveraging APIs to power a new wave of smarter and personalized ‘intelligent virtual assistants’ that can run on any device or touch any endpoint.  Next IT’s Engagement APIs use the company’s intelligent assistant platform, Alme.

Tags: AI, Alme, APIs, apps, integration, IVA, mobile natural language, Next IT,

Next IT is leveraging APIs to power a new wave of smarter and personalized ‘intelligent virtual assistants’ that can run on any device or touch any endpoint.  Next IT’s Engagement APIs use the company’s intelligent assistant platform, Alme.


The idea behind IVAs is to let companies better engage with customers, providing concierge-like levels of personal service – without incurring tons of cost thanks to technologies such as self-service and even AI (artificial intelligence).  IVAs are an idea quickly gaining acceptance, as a recent Gartner report predicts that up to two-thirds of consumers in developed markets will regularly interact with IVAs by 2017.


The key to rapid adoption and continued use of IVAs will be their ease-of use and their effectiveness in correct responses to customer needs.  Enter Next IT’s approach to using APIs for IVAs. 


Next IT’s Tracy Malingo, executive vice president of product and delivery, put it this way, “Good assistants answer your questions, but great assistants answer them wherever and whenever you need them.”  Growing demand by IVA providers and customers also means the era of “one-size-fits-all virtual assistants” has come to a close, added Rick Collins, president, enterprise business at Next IT.


Today’s enterprise IT environment is characterized by constant change and myriad end-user needs. So, to deliver a smarter and more responsive IVA, solution providers need to deliver flexible and customizable packages, Collins added.  He described the demands of today’s IVAs, along with under-the-cover elements of Next IT’s approach in a recent blog post:


Companies are forced to deal with an increasing flood of real-time data, massive product lines, and perhaps most important, consumer expectations for personalized experiences when interacting with a business.


AI (Artificial Intelligence) has become a key component to address each of these challenges. The applications of AI can range from detecting trends in data to mitigate market risks, enhancing customer service through virtual personal assistants, or even analyzing millions of documents across a company’s servers to find compliance failures.


The Next IT Alme Engagement API features four new APIs:


Conversation API
The Conversation API exposes methods for sending requests to the Alme platform for natural language understanding. This allows for input – response interactions, whether it be user text input, Unit requests, or AppEvents (button presses, web page navigation, and other non-text user actions that impact context).


Conversation Support API
The Conversation Support API exposes methods for retrieving the cached conversation history (inputs and responses) for a user’s session. This allows for easy collection and display of the current conversation to the user, in the event of a page refresh or navigation.


Configuration API
The Configuration API exposes methods for retrieving externally available configuration settings, for use by the consuming client. The settings can be segregated by “channel,” allowing for a “Web” client to share a set of common settings with a “Mobile” client, while also having access to settings that are unique to each client “channel.”


Media Retrieval API
The Media Retrieval API exposes methods for requesting resources from the Alme platform, provided by custom “media handlers.” This allows for the Alme platform to support such features as Pre-recorded Voice (PRV) files or Text-to-Speech (TTS), as well as any custom implementations, such as serving images to the UI that are provided with an FPML set.


Thanks to the capabilities of this combined set of APIs, Next IT’s Alme platform aims to make it simple for customers to interact with a business from wherever they are, through:

  • Uniquely personalized service: the virtual assistant learns what customers want, accomplishing tasks more efficiently.
  • Critical cross-app communication: the virtual assistant recognizes and launches the right app for the job.
  • Advanced conversation UI: puts users in control, allowing them to correct occasional misunderstandings.
  • Deep domain intelligence: the virtual assistant is an expert in your business and can serve up highly relevant, personalized information.
  • Superior situational awareness: when the virtual assistant doesn’t know an answer, it can hand-off to the appropriate source, including a live representative.