Alexa meets XPLAN - an experiment

Blog Post created by echen Employee on Nov 9, 2017

You've probably seen quite a lot of excitement within the various news sources around chatbots and machine learning (or artificial intelligence) lately. Chatbots combined with artificial intelligence present a number of great opportunities to add value to the advice proposition and experience through innovation.


The manner in which customers look to engage is evolving. A couple of years ago websites and blogs were all the rage and the introduction of XPLANconnect provided our users with the ability to place elements of XPLAN functionality on their websites; whether it was a simple insurance quote tool, or a 'contact us' form which could interact with future customers and capture the "lead".  Today businesses are social, Facebook pages have become the new websites and the moment you ask a question you create a digital footprint.  Gone are the days of anonymous 'visitors'.  Blogs have been replaced by Tweets and media content sharing via Instagram is the new norm.  Not to mention the expectation that solutions must provide 'responsive design' and 'companion' apps to support multi-channel and device switching (are you getting dizzy yet?). 


How we keep up with the change of pace in this new digital world?  Perhaps a different perspective, one more-so focused on simplicity?  



An Experiment

How something 'sounds on paper' can be very different to how it plays out in practice.  We can learn so much from working through and exercise and allowing those without prior context play with the 'idea'.  The idea?  Allow your clients to interact with XPLAN Client Access using Amazon Echo (aka 'Alexa')


The following is Alexa Skill for Amazon Echo working with XPLAN Client Access:



A couple of interesting learnings from this experiment that I would like to share:

1.  'Narrative' is an art.

A deeper understanding of the advice conversation is needed to drive tools like this and to enable the emotional connection with the client. Technology will not only be enabling the advice experience, technology like XPLAN will also become much more prominent in driving the advice experience.


2.  What you see might not be what you want to hear. 

In this video, you will hear Alexa detail performance reporting to 4 decimal points and balances to 2 decimal points as this is how these figures are reported within the Client Access interface.  Whilst this is the expectation and very much accepted in the 'written form' or within traditional software interfaces, it doesn't sound right when you hear it read out loud.  Therefore how we adapt the experience for a 'voice assistant' needs a very different approach to achieve the desired outcome. 


3.  Authentication via Social. 

The ability to 'single sign-on' (SSO) via your Amazon account or other social platforms to simplify the authentication process will be key.  Something for us to ponder as we think about streamlining our identity services and password management.



The natural next step (and perhaps this is just me), is to allow the client to request that the portfolio is rebalanced, or read some relevant Knowledge Centre article and/or news content.  This exercise also begs the question: Could 'voice authorisation' become the solution for the growing challenge of remembering all one's passwords?  How is privacy managed or challenged within this scenario, or how can advisers and their staff business benefit from a 'voice assistant'?


Do you have a Google Home, or Amazon Echo? Or do you use Siri regularly? What's your experience?


We'd love to hear from you... "Alexa, long macchiato please". 



G KNOW more...
  • How IRESS is looking to foster a collaborative approach to the development of new solutions: Introducing XPLAN Labs 
  • Better understand the 6D's and its impact on how you will be using software in the future: Designing With You