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Virtually Speaking

Agile Business Strategy Promotes Growth, Success and Expertise

Posted by Next IT on Oct 15, 2012 2:23:45 PM


The philosophy of Agile software development has officially been in existence for over a decade, and many of its advocates such as myself see its value applied to many other types of initiatives.  At Next IT, not only are our software development processes Agile, but the entirety of our solution is as well.

We consider our Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs) to represent the virtual equivalent of the best and most knowledgeable team members of our customer-partners.  Our knowledge development processes for our IVAs parallel that of training for human team members in many ways.  And the understanding of how humans work and learn has at its core the ongoing, evolutionary process of trying, reflecting and executing upon those opportunities for improvement identified via that process. This simple understanding has been successfully applied to software development as a whole via Agile approaches and methodologies for years. It also lends itself well to our IVAs, as their understanding of language and overall domain knowledge grows.

I would suggest that when you consider your most knowledgeable, experienced or talented team members with whom you’ve worked closely for a period of time, you likely can identify how they’ve grown positively since your initial meeting.  Perhaps they’ve grown more knowledgeable in a particular area of the business or perfected their ability to close a sale.

Now consider the challenges, difficulties and misunderstandings which may have occurred along the way with any of those team members.  These events obviously occur with all of us on an ongoing basis, regardless of the terminology we use.  And I consider these events – in both the analog and digital world – to be the greatest under-realized area of opportunity.  It is an opportunity that we at Next IT aggressively pursue with our customer-partners.

Don’t get me wrong: I am extraordinarily proud of the IVAs our teams provide, from day one (and prior).  But I am even more proud that our technology, our teams and our processes are prepared for the unknown; we rapidly learn from imperfect experiences and adapt and grow our IVAs’ knowledge quickly in response.

I especially look to examples with our long-standing customer-partners and see consistently that we delivered a great solution day one, but then significantly increased our IVA’s breadth and depth of knowledge and experience to provide an even better solution.  This ongoing improvement occurred iteratively over time, as issues were identified and then leveraged as opportunities to provide a better experience for the next user with that same need.

Having a holistic ecosystem which recognizes, prepares for and adapts to imperfection allows us to model our technology and teams to the way in which humans learn and improve.  Day one perfection is elusive.  Issues, and the ability to learn from them and quickly adapt - agility - is key.

Topics: Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVA), Natural Language Processing, Technology