Thursday, October 10, 2013

Throwback Thursday: The Future of Search is...a Virtual Agent?

With the recent announcements of Google's Hummingbird as well as Facebook's Graph Search, it seems fitting to discuss the new role of Search. According to an article,  Amit Singhal, Google's VP of Search said, "Remember what it was like to search in 1998? You'd sit down and boot up your bulky computer, dial up on your squawky modem, type in some keywords, and get 10 blue links to websites that had those words, the world has changed so much since then: billions of people have come online, the Web has grown exponentially, and now you can ask any question on the powerful little device in your pocket."

Wikipedia states, "To celebrate their 15th birthday, Google launched a new 'Hummingbird' algorithm, claiming that Google search can be a more human way to interact with users and provide a more direct answer."

Since the role of a Virtual Agent is to create a more 'human way of interacting with users,' let's discuss Virtual Agents that have the added benefit of searching across clouds. For this weeks Throwback Thursday I want to re-introduce Search ++, code named 'Smart Search.' This series of algorithms was introduced to the world only a year ago in 2012, making it still fairly new. Search ++ is an enhancement to search engines and works collaboratively with Virtual Agents to provide more accurate rank results. 

One interesting component of Search ++ is the Federated Search ++ feature. This component allows results from multiple data sources to be pulled into the Virtual Agent and delivered to the end users. The latest version of Federated Search ++ not only pulls results from various data sources, but it can rank all results as a whole instead of separately ranking from each data source. 

Another advantage to Search ++ is its ability to preempt end users to find solutions before submitting a support case to any given business. Sometimes consumers have a hard time finding the solution to their problem and submitting an email or case to the vendor seems like the easiest way to get answers. This is not true though. Submitting cases can be time consuming, you might have to wait hours before getting in contact with a support agent. With Search ++ preemption forms, before you submit your question, Search ++ technology will analyze what you have written in the case form and supply you with relevant articles that could lead you to immediate solutions. This decreases the amount of emails or cases submitted to your company's contact center and in turn, increases ROI and customer satisfaction. 

As search engines aim to be more 'human-like', and our Smartphones come prepackaged with Virtual Assistants (equipped with personalities and names), what do you think about the future of search? Will we use Virtual Assistants for virtually everything? Do the lines between search and Virtual Assistants continue to blur?

Happy #TBT