There’s always a risk when jumping into the current buzzwords and industry trends that a company will overreach and promise something that is theoretical at best. We have no better example of this than the current headfirst rush to be delivering “AI-powered solutions.” And it’s no surprise, everyone – from tech media to the general public – is increasingly aware of at least the vague idea of artificial intelligence. Hollywood has borrowed the concept and every second movie seems to have either dystopian or utopian ideas of how AI will impact upon this world. So whereas cloud wasn’t really a term that Hollywood and popular media could get into, AI certainly is. And where popular media goes, marketers soon follow.

But, as I intimated before, the risk of jumping onto a bandwagon is great, and many a vendor has announced an AI play which was less substance than spin. I got a pitch recently from Samanage a service desk vendor that competes with the likes of ServiceNow. I’ve known Samanage for a long time and have had one or two conversations with its founder and CEO, Doron Gordon. Gordon has a hard job – he’s competing against far bigger and better-funded companies and trying to get some oxygen is hard. So the natural-enough approach is to let buzzwords do it.

And so we have the announcement today that Samanage is haring its vision for the smart service desk and I rolling out the first of what will be a platform-wide AI play. The release deftly articulates a vision which, truth be told, isn’t really able to be delivered upon just yet. The opening lines tell us that:

New capabilities, fueled by machine learning, now simplify ticket routing in Samanage Service Desk, improving the accuracy and efficiency of the service desk. Over the next year, Samanage will introduce voice-based assistance, predictive capabilities and intelligent chatbots, delivering value to both the business and the end user through more engaging and efficient service interactions.

There’s a whole lot of vision and promise in there and that’s sometimes risky. Anyway, Samanage’s rationale is that service desk operations are generally manually-based and, as such, expensive to run, inefficient and difficult to scale. The idea with all this AI goodness is that it will make predictions and suggestions based on past activity and that the introduction of voice-based assistance and intelligent chatbots will also humanize users’ service interactions. Or in other words, AI will help avoid the mistakes of the past where robotic approaches towards service desk just resulted in annoyed users.

Stage one is already there

So, in fairness, this isn’t all vaporware – Samanage has taken to the first step to its AI future. The first AI capability uses machine learning to suggest categories and sub-categories for tickets that are submitted, by comparing and analyzing new tickets against historical ticket data. The idea is that it will simplify the ticket routing process for faster time to resolution and enable more accurate reporting.

And back to that roadmap…

According to the company, additional AI capabilities will be added in the coming months, including voice-based assistance for requestors, creating and managing the incident lifecycle, and suggesting solutions to end users which will improve self-service adoption, and identifying similar ticket trends to help technicians more quickly identify when an issue needs to be escalated as a problem within the ITIL framework.

MyPOV

It’s a balancing act, articulating a vision, while still delivering actual value. While it’s always easy to criticize, I feel for Samanage who are trying to build some brand awareness and recognition in a noisy space. Whether AI will deliver what they’re looking for will have to be seen but for now, Samanage better head back to work and deliver all the stuff they’re promising.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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