What happens when you give IBM Watson to Sri Lankan developers

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By now you’ve probably heard of IBM Watson. But in case you’ve been living under a rock, Watson is IBM’s famous AI system that answer almost any question you have. It was originally built to compete in the quiz show Jeopardy, where it won against its human competitors. Since then, IBM Watson has been used in a wide range of applications from weather forecasting to lung cancer treatments. The IBM Watson is a powerful system, and now the folks at the Volume Technology Centre in Sri Lanka have built something pretty cool with it.

Building the enterprise solutions of tomorrow today

The Volume Technology Centre, is the Sri Lankan branch of the UK based Volume. Recently, they won a merit award at NBQSA 2016. This award was for the application they built using IBM Watson. The system in question is Virtual Assistant designed for Castrol and powered by IBM Watson.

The assistant was created for both the customers and employees Castrol has across the globe. Its purpose is to help make the specialist industry knowledge Castrol’s Marine business has much more accessible. Previously it was only available via limited documentation, on-site attendance and email. The assistant changes everything and makes all this information much more accessible.

The Castrol Virtual Assistant powered by IBM Watson
The Castrol Virtual Assistant

The Virtual Technical Assistant that the folks at the Volume Technology Centre built, is a first-generation AI app that uses IBM Watson’s services. It takes all the data Castrol’s Marine business has. After analysing it, the assistant can now answer any technical questions about Castrol’s products, relevant legislation and any other question you throw at it.

Asiri Fernando, Divisional Director at Volume Technology Centre, says: “We’re proud to have launched an application that extends the self-serve cycle and frees up Castrol’s technical specialists to give the business competitive advantage. Awards like this prove that our hard work has paid off”.

IBM Watson in action: Meet Volume’s Digital Concierge

Though, Castrol’s Virtual Technical Assistant is not the only thing Volume has built with IBM Watson. Another product that they’ve redesigned and upgraded with IBM Watson is their very own website. Head over to www.volumeglobal.com and you won’t find a typical website.

This is the website of the parent company of the Volume Technology Centre. It’s thrown out its menus, webpages and everything else. In its place you’ll find the Volume’s Digital Concierge. Just like the Castrol’s Virtual Assistant, this too is another product built by the folks from Volume that’s powered by IBM Watson.

Say hello to Volume’s Digital Concierge powered by IBM Watson
Say hello to Volume’s Digital Concierge

We took it for a spin and asked it a few questions about Volume and the Digital Concierge was able to answer our questions. However, it would occasionally freeze while presenting the answer at times. Thankfully, it’s nothing a quick hit of the refresh button won’t fix.

While the Digital Concierge is a cool demo of what IBM Watson is capable of, it’s debatable if this is the best way of presenting information about a company. On one hand, if you know the exact question of what you wish to know about Volume then the Digital Concierge can easily answer your questions.

But on the other hand, if you have an open mind and want to know about Volume, then it can be a bit tougher. In such cases, it might be easier to adopt the traditional website approach rather than using an AI assistant. Either way, for us in Sri Lanka, the folks at the Volume Technology Centre still have their traditional website.

What’s next for Volume?

The Volume Technology Centre have already won two awards for their AI assistants. One award as we mentioned earlier was a merit award at NBQSA 2016. The other award was for second place at the 2016 AI Summit Awards in London. But they’re not stopping there. They’re also been pre-listed for the AI Summit, which will take place in New York this December. We wish them all the best and hope they’ll build even more amazing things with IBM Watson.

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