Published on the 10/03/2017 | Written by Donovan Jackson
Chatbots can revolutionise how we interact with everyday services…
Shouldn’t everyone have a private banker capable of easily providing useful insights on a ‘your wish is my command’ basis? Well yes, that would be nice, but private bankers perhaps even more so than any other professionals don’t work for free. Not, that is, unless they are some sort of a machine.
Which is exactly what the creation of Ben Lynch is. His jude.io is a software programme which leverages cognitive computing to provide an easy way to stay on top of your bank accounts. That helps avoid the sort of sticky situation most have experienced at one time or another, where a payment goes off and the requisite funds aren’t there.
In a chat with iStart, Lynch said it was just such a situation which gave him the idea to develop the jude.io chatbot to improve the way in which he interfaces with the bank. “If you think about it, the experience we all have when dealing with a bank isn’t ideal – but that’s how we’ve always done it, so we all put up with it.”
But things are changing. We’re all getting used to better customer experiences in more places (although a lot of those places are social media). Banks are sitting up and taking notice, with ‘digital transformation’ the war cry along with ‘CX’ as customer experience is snappily known.
Lynch is among the presenters at the upcoming Cognitive Computing in Business Forum, taking place in Auckland on 12 April. His view is that cognitive computing is in its relative infancy, but set for big things as it rapidly matures. “In the next year or two, we’re going to see a huge increase in where and how cognitive computing will impact our lives. We’re seeing the big companies, like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple putting massive resources into it and we’re going to see how it is going to turn something we’ve always had – speech and writing – into a bridge between people and machines.”
The particularly exciting aspect of that is the commoditisation of cognitive technology. That opens unprecedented opportunities for just about anyone to access and use it to create new products and services.
Like Jude, for example (yes, we ran the obligatory ‘hey, Jude’ past Lynch; he confirmed that iStart wasn’t being all that clever and said he fully expected it to happen again soon). Lynch got the idea for that when working for Xero and seeing how difficult it was to pull information out of or put it back into the banks. “Most don’t have an API and are only starting to think about that. [To get around it] there’s a company called Yodlee which does screen scraping; effectively you give them your login details, they log in as you and get what you need, to do something else with it.”
Sounds frightening and Lynch said yes, most customers and banks would shriek at the very idea. “So, I built Jude with that and put it on top of the Australian and New Zealand banks to prove that if I can do it, anyone can. ‘Democratised’ technology, which anyone can use, becomes really powerful.”
There’s a bit of a catch with Jude, though. “Right now, it breaks your terms and conditions with your bank as the regulations don’t permit it. But the point is that it works, so we’re looking to work with banks which are interested in creating a better customer experience.”
Better how? Another ‘Hey, Jude’ moment, because you can just ask the chatbot for what you want to know about your accounts or to perform certain actions.
In Lynch’s view, cognitive computing now is somewhat equivalent to Netscape Navigator in the early days of the internet. Those with foresight recognise that it may be clunky, but it has great potential. And that makes it, he said, an extraordinarily exciting environment loaded with potential.
Learn more about how cognitive computing, including chatbots, is transforming modern business at the Cognitive Computing in Business Forum.