Sheila McGee-Smith
Sheila McGee-Smith, who founded McGee-Smith Analytics in 2001, is a leading communications industry analyst and strategic consultant focused on the...
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Sheila McGee-Smith | May 30, 2017 |


Genesys Differentiates with Blended AI Approach

Genesys Differentiates with Blended AI Approach Introduces Kate, customer service-specific artificial intelligence meant to assist and work with contact center agents.

Introduces Kate, customer service-specific artificial intelligence meant to assist and work with contact center agents.

The first combined Genesys/Interactive Intelligence event, bringing together customers, partners, consultants, analysts and media, was held last week in Indianapolis, CX17Indy. The tone was set first thing Monday morning when Genesys announced G-NINE (the next generation of Genesys solution). As reported by No Jitter associate editor Michelle Burbick, the announced G-NINE “innovations” include Kate, described as customer service-specific artificial intelligence (AI).

Over the course of the week, those of us hungry for additional information about Kate were not disappointed. I was particularly taken by the effort given to create a Kate persona, a back-story if you will. The description below went by somewhat quickly on a slide used by Genesys CMO Merijn te Booij during his keynote presentation on Tuesday, but I think it offers insight into the company’s approach to AI.

“Meet Kate. Kate is unique. She is not your average girl. She is genuine in everything she does. Her loyalty is phenomenal and you never have to doubt her. Kate’s kindness inspires others to do good things. Kate is not weak though. She is a strong independent girl who can get herself through anything she sets her mind to. She is hilarious! Sometimes she has a dry sense of humor and other times she just knows how to make people laugh :)

Kate has been told by many that her advice changes the way they look at life. Kate has a very bubbly personality that makes anyone comfortable talking with her. She is able to learn quickly and apply. Kate has many good personality traits but she is not self-conceited. As a matter of fact, she has some downers too. Sometimes Kate can be a little too sarcastic. That can offend some people, but she apologizes. She also has a tendency to procrastinate from time to time. But she still manages to get everything done.”
Reading through this, I see myself in Kate (e.g., knows how to make people laugh, can offend some people, but she apologizes, a tendency to procrastinate but gets everything done). There was no graphical depiction of Kate offered (unlike Salesforce Einstein, but similar to Alexa and Siri), but I picture Kate in her mid-20s with a spikey haircut, probably brunette.

Why is the fact that I identify with Kate important? Because it emphasizes what I saw as a differentiating attribute of Kate’s brand of AI -- that she’s here to work with and assist live agents, not replace them. In the past few months I’ve seen numerous headlines, like this one for example, “When Will AI Virtual Support Agents Replace Your IT Service Desk?” A sensational blog title you might think, meant to draw clicks? No, it is the title of an April 2017 Gartner piece.

While others may talk about AI being used to support live workers, Genesys is emphasizing that attribute with how it presents and talks about Kate. I was able to attend one of the 70 breakout sessions offered at CX17Indy that expanded on this notion of automation assisting live agents. The session title was "Blended AI" and the speaker was Christopher Connolly, Genesys vice president, solution strategy.

From a solution perspective, Kate is described as combining artificial intelligence, bots, machine learning, and micro-applications so companies can deliver personalized, proactive, and predictive experiences while running a smart business. The combined power of Kate and live staff to solve customer problems is what Genesys is calling "blended AI."

I believe there was a touch of the magic of Genesys marketing in Connolly’s session subtitle, “Where Bots and Automation Collide with the Power of the Human Touch.” It supported Connolly’s definition of blended AI: A hybrid execution that blends automation and machine learning with real agents to better handle customer inquiries.

It would be impossible to summarize Connolly’s 45-minute session in a few words but one of his slides answers the question of how Kate fits into the increasingly complex world of AI.


The diagram reinforces that Kate is not designed to compete with currently available AI platforms, such as IBM's Watson and Salesforce's Einstein. Connolly explained that Genesys believes that AI platforms like Watson and Einstein can be made even smarter by leveraging Genesys’s deep understanding of customer conversations in and across all channels.

A visual distinction is also made in the diagram between what Genesys is attempting with Kate and the emerging chatbot category. Connolly defined a chatbot as a computer program that runs automated tasks and can be designed to simulate conversation with human users.

It is no accident that the name Kate has both Greek and Latin roots to the word “pure,” (a loose connection to Genesys’s three portfolio products PureCloud, PureConnect, and PureEngage). It is also no accident that Kate and Genesys’s new branding was announced at the same time. If Genesys gets its wish, the aspirational capabilities of Kate and the New Genesys will be forever linked.

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