Innovation

Nuance Nina wants to make Alexa more business friendly with its 'human-like' AI assistant

Nuance announced that companies using its Nina assistant will now be able to interact with customers through platforms that support Amazon Alexa.

Nuance Communications announced on Thursday that it is officially bringing its enterprise virtual assistant (VA) Nina to Amazon Alexa, allowing businesses to interact more fully with consumers through Alexa-support platforms and systems.

According to a Nuance press release, the Nina for Amazon Alexa offering is the first intelligent enterprise virtual assistant integration with the Alexa platform. Consumers will now be able to have more contextual interactions with their bank or airline, for example, the release said.

SEE: How to become an Alexa developer: The smart person's guide

"With Nina, we're able to provide enterprises with the ability to design a VA once, then deploy it across the channels on which their customers choose to engage, securely and affordably," Robert Weideman, executive vice president and general manager of the Enterprise Division at Nuance, said in the release. "Nina for Amazon Alexa is the first example where Nina enables engagement through IoT devices, and the first example where two virtual assistants - Nuance Nina and Amazon Alexa - work together to deliver a superior customer experience."

According to a spokesperson, Nina won't be directly listed as an Alexa skills itself. Rather, Nina will enable individual customer skills. So Nina would power the backend of a given skill to make it easier for consumers to get information from a business. The spokesperson also said that Nuance is "in discussions with several customers" regarding the integration to go live soon.

In an example video provided by Nuance, a user asks about whether his upcoming flight offers free Wi-Fi, and if upgrading his ticket will allow him to board early. After confirming that an upgrade will allow for early boarding, Nina asks the user if he would like to upgrade. When the user confirms, Nina authorizes the upgrade and charges his credit card on file.

Nina was first launched in 2012, and has grown to provide engagement across platforms like web, mobile, messaging apps, and more. Nina relies on what the release called "cognitive and human-assisted AI capabilities" to provide customer service solutions and it's used by companies like Coca-Cola, Domino's, and USAA Bank.

The face of customer service is constantly changing. While chatbots and messaging currently rule the market, integrations like the one provided by Nuance Nina could bring customer service to the smart home as well.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Nuance announced its Nina for Amazon Alexa integration, allowing businesses to interact more efficiently with customers through Alexa devices.
  2. Consumers will be able to get more contextual customer service from companies like banks or airlines directly through their smarthome speaker.
  3. The smart home and other IoT trends could pave the way for the next generation of customer service.

Also see

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Image: Sarah Tew/CNET

About Conner Forrest

Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.

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