IBM Watson this week announced the launch of Watson Assistant, an enterprise AI assistant that can be accessed via voice or text interaction. The assistant is designed to help businesses transform customer experiences by delivering proactive and personalized services made possible through the technology’s continual learning of consumer preferences. That means that unlike most existing assistants, Watson Assistant gets to know a user through each interaction rather than just responding to each command based on generic, publicly available information.
The Watson Assistant is entering the scene as digital, voice-activated assists become more common in homes and guests become more accustomed to the technology helping to execute routine tasks. The technology is designed so that it can specifically target the user experience in travel. For example, the assistant can automatically update hotel or car reservations if a traveler’s flight is delayed, automatically check a guest into a hotel when their flight lands, signal the guest’s arrival at a hotel and update the room with preferences for music, temperature, and lighting.
Watson Assistant can be embedded in any “thing”–a car, hotel room, retail store, conference room, and more–offering guests new levels of convenience as they live, work and travel. It combines an understanding of the user with additional contextual factors such as their location and time of day to anticipate their needs and proactively make recommendations. Delivered through the IBM Cloud, Watson Assistant can be infused into a new set of industry-specific applications, including two designed for automotive and hospitality, which businesses can white-label and brand as they chose. Hotels can offer guests a smart assistant experience in their rooms—for example, the technology can potentially synch a guest’s smartphone, calendar, and email with an in-room wall dashboard for alerts and updates as well as synch with existing technology like keyless entry.
Watson Assistant allows companies in hospitality, retail, and more to create several types of conversational capabilities (skills) that are important and relevant for their business or industry. Data sharing between skills and built-in data objects, such as context (information about the business and industry) and profile (data on the consumer/customer), as well as built-in proactive capabilities, enables natural and life-like conversations that are in-context while protecting data through secure and personalized insights, which the business owns. These skills can be built upon and use any Watson Service—primarily Watson Conversation Service, Speech to Text and Text to Speech—to create a much more comprehensive conversation.
Watson Assistant can also be customized for additional verticals, and with permission from the user, these businesses can share this data through the IBM Cloud to ensure that it’s present throughout each person’s day, no matter where they go. Several global brand have adopted this new technology so far, including Munich Airport, Motel One, and Royal Bank of Scotland.