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Setting Out Toward Conversational Artificial Intelligence

Feature Article | November 3, 2017 by Till Pieper, Piyush Chandra

SAP plans to introduce first APIs to build and enhance natural language-based applications.

From fetching the weather forecast, to ordering food, to booking your next vacation, there is a text or voice-enabled chatbot to help you with many of your daily consumer desires.

Now, wouldn’t it be great if there were also a bot to support many of the things you need to do at work? An intelligent assistant to serve as your interface to the systems you use day-to-day, that understands your needs and requests, and helps you gather and process all kinds of information?

This would not only be more convenient, but likely also increase effectiveness. According to a Stanford Research study, using voice for simple request commands is three times faster than texting, and the error rate of speech recognition over text is 20% lower.

Thanks to great achievements in natural language processing and understanding (NLP and NLU) and deep learning, chatbots, digital assistants, and task-oriented dialog agents are already making their way into many enterprise organizations. They are capable of automating service ticketing, streamlining customer support, simplifying HR requests, and more – relieving mundane tasks to give employees more time to focus on critical, creative work.

Conversational capabilities in business systems have the potential to be the technological glue that connects data, processes, applications, devices and, most importantly, people.

How Co-Innovation Partners Can Use Conversational Capabilities

As part of our vision of ‘the intelligent enterprise’ – an enterprise that empowers people to get their jobs done more simply and focus on higher value work – SAP is already well on its journey, developing and delivering software and applications that leverage business data to help improve business processes, solve problems, reduce complexity and increase productivity in organizations.

Case in point, the SAP Leonardo Conversational AI Foundation – a platform which will enable organizations to build and enhance conversational capabilities like chatbots and digital assistants, across enterprise applications, and allow users to interact with them like they would with their colleagues.

Ultimately, the SAP Leonardo Conversational AI Foundation will provide the infrastructure and comprehensive development environment to create software solutions that process and understand natural language, user behavior and situational context. The first services for the foundation will be available soon.

Intent matching and entity extraction, which represent essential functionalities of any NLP solution, will be consumable as APIs via Cloud Foundry. Here’s what they offer:

  • Intent Matching: This provides the natural language understanding capability, taking a user’s utterance or text message as input and passing it to a pre-trained model so that it can identify the intention of the user. Intent Matching will also include data upload capabilities and model training APIs.
  • Entity Extraction: This locates and classifies items like dates, times, locations, names, and other key data categories from a phrase or utterance. Entities can also contain values such as links, telephone numbers, email addresses, currency amounts, percentages, etc.

Co-innovation partners can now access the SAP Leonardo Conversational AI Foundation and utilize the platform and the above services. It offers the following capabilities:

  • Users can customize the NLP models of the foundation on-demand by simply providing their own training data
  • Users can build multiple chatbots, each dedicated to a specific use case, improving accuracy and enhancing end user experience
  • Users can evaluate NLP model statistics and deploy those models that perform best for their case
  • Users can choose to use the foundation for their end-to-end chatbot needs or pick individual services to leverage

To learn more about the SAP Leonardo Conversational AI Foundation visit www.sap.com/conversationalai.

To find out how your organization can become a co-innovation partner and start taking advantage of SAP Leonardo Conversational AI Foundation now, e-mail conversationalai@sap.com.

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