Natural Language Technology is Here

Advanced software that allows computers to understand the exact meaning of questions and answer them with speed and precision has just become available, through an alliance between Andersen Consulting and answerFriend.

AnswerFriend develops natural language processing technology to improve e-commerce. QuestionEngine can understand requests in everyday language and specialist jargon. It can provide an answer in plain English by retrieving information instantaneously from large bodies of text, tabular data, numbers, or a mixture of both. Answers are immediate, precise and concise. This means, for example, that calls routed to a call center can be handled by fewer people and in a fraction of the time it takes to use old-fashioned keyword-based tools.

"The personal computer became ubiquitous in businesses and in homes when the green screen computer interface was replaced by graphical user interface. Likewise, answerFriend’s technology eliminates all barriers to using the Internet. If you can ask a question, you are computer literate. Or as we think about it, the computer has now become literate," said Gary Mekikian, chief executive officer of answerFriend.

"We knew we had a powerful product that could redefine the customer experience, but to be truly successful, we needed more. That’s why we turned to Andersen Consulting. Together, we will establish a new computing standard in the global marketplace," added Mekikian.

"Our clients recognize that they must reorient themselves to deliver exceptional customer experiences," said Robert Frerichs, managing partner at Andersen Consulting. "By teaming with answerFriend, we will be able to provide a leading-edge solution that makes it easier for companies to respond to their customers and deliver improved services."

Andersen Consulting plans to use answerFriend’s technology across its practices in the areas of customer relationship management, e-commerce, knowledge management and wireless portal implementations.

"The answerFriend technology is revolutionary in terms of the range and breadth of data it can manage," said Thomas Fischer, a partner with AC Ventures. "It can change the way people work and the way companies do business."

AnswerFriend’s technology is applicable to online, offline and wireless interactions between companies and their customers.

"Our technology will also help companies forge better relationships with customers through Internet interactions," said Mike Murphy, answerFriend’s chief operating officer. "Today, two-thirds of all e-commerce orders are abandoned, often because customers can’t get good product information fast enough. Potential customers just give up and log out, often switching to a competitor’s web site."

Based in Palo Alto, California, AC Ventures, the venture capital unit of Andersen Consulting, works with entrepreneurs to build companies that transform industries and generate superior economic returns. It also provides a venture capital option that can help start-ups.

You may like these other stories...

Regulatory compliance, risk management and cost-cutting are the big heartburn issues for finance execs in the C-suite. Yet financial planning and analysis—a key antacid—is insufficient.That's just one of the...
Continuing its efforts to simplify accounting procedures, the FASB has issued a proposed Accounting Standards Update on customer fees paid in a cloud computing arrangement. The newly-proposed update (Intangibles—...
How are you planning? What tools do you use (or fail to use) for forecasting? PlanGuru is a business budgeting, forecasting, and performance review software company based in White Plains, N.Y. AccountingWEB recently spoke...

Already a member? log in here.

Upcoming CPE Webinars

Sep 9
In this session we'll discuss the types of technologies and their uses in a small accounting firm office.
Sep 10
Transfer your knowledge and experience to prepare your team for the challenges and opportunities of an accounting career.
Sep 11
This webcast will include discussions of commonly-applicable Clarified Auditing Standards for audits of non-public, non-governmental entities.
Sep 18
In this course, Amber Setter will shine the light on different types of leadership behavior- an integral part of everyone's career.