Beeline Makes Another Leap into the New World of Augmented Intelligence With Beeline Assistant

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Beeline, which refers to itself as a global leader in software solutions for sourcing and managing the extended workforce, announced earlier this week that it is introducing a new artificial intelligence (AI)-based “virtual assistant” feature called Beeline Assistant. Beeline and IQN, both recognized technology solution innovators in the space, merged earlier this year. Beeline Assistant has been implemented on both VMS software products. Spend Matters has not yet received a briefing or demo of Beeline Assistant, but will at the Beeline Conference in Orlando next week.

Not Just a New UI

The press release cites the well-known barrier to the adoption of enterprise-grade solutions: a user interface and navigation that can be complicated and challenging for users to learn and use. Beeline Assistant “can replace or augment traditional user interfaces for many common tasks, using automatic speech recognition and natural language understanding to interpret users’ needs, gather information and complete tasks,” according to the press release. In effect, Beeline Assistant goes beyond the most extensive UI reconstructive surgery to a totally different level of location-independent user interaction.

“In today’s on-demand environment, enterprise applications with complicated interfaces discourage users, undermining their effectiveness and hindering adoption,” said Sherri Hammons, Beeline’s chief technology officer. “Users expect to engage technology effortlessly and within the context of their day-to-day activities. We aim to bring ubiquity to enterprise applications by stripping away complex user interfaces and replacing them with unforced, natural language conversations and simple, direct interactions between humans and technology.”

According to the press release, many resources of Beeline’s vendor management systems can be made available 24/7 via instant messaging (IM) technologies using channels like Skype, Slack, text/SMS or e-mail, and via voice interaction through interfaces like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Echo — in effect, anytime and everywhere.

Augmented Intelligence = Augmented Business Performance

It should go without saying that this kind of virtual assistant functionality has the potential enhance business performance through more timely and intelligent actions. For example, Beeline Assistant can “provide informative digests, answer questions about workforce trends and help users find and manage talent.” But the virtual assistant does not simply execute tasks. It also learns from every interaction to drive better business results.

Technology-wise, Hammons noted that Beeline Assistant is powered by the provider’s proprietary Automated Talent Ontology Machine (ATOM), and it is supported by a dedicated AI team.

The Beeline announcement comes close on the heels of the SAP Fieldglass announcement of its Live Insights. The two solutions are different: Beeline Assistant is about ubiquitous, intelligent and seamless interactions with the VMS;  SAP Fieldglass Live Insights is more of an analytical tool that business users can leverage to access a broad set of data and game out and analyze different workforce scenarios relying on in-memory database and machine learning. We have also noted elsewhere that DCR Workforce has already implemented various AI-based features and functionality similar to the above.

What these various augmentations to VMS solution capabilities all have in common is the appropriation of algorithms, AI and machine learning technologies into the VMS solutions. We have analyzed these trends in our recent research report (“The Impact of Disruptive Technologies and Solutions on Contingent Workforce and Services Procurement”), in which algorithms, AI and machine learning technologies are considered at the top of the list of technologically-disruptive forces the evolving contingent workforce solutions space.

The above developments show that some VMS solutions are not standing still. Rather, they’re leveraging powerful technologies to keep their front-row seats in the enterprise, and rising to face the advanced technologies and solution models of innovative, new entrants into the space. For Beeline, the development of and implementation of Beeline Assistant on both VMS platforms would also seem to put to bed any speculations that the Beeline-IQN merger would mean that imposed cost rationalization would curtail innovation or force a rapid customer migration to one of the two platforms. Clearly, neither of those things is happening.

Beeline promises to reveal more of Beeline Assistant in action and unveil other innovative directions at its conference in Orlando, Florida, next week. Spend Matters will be there to deliver on-the-scene coverage and commentary.

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