Report from BMC Exchange Chicago: Chatbots in the House

Dr Lyle Unger

By Special Contributor George Payne, RightStar Senior Consultant

The renovated Morgan Manufacturing Company was once again the site for this year’s Chicago BMC Exchange. The company manufactured tools and components used in the production of electricity. Also, to come: witnessing their ironic convergence.

Earlier this year I worked on a government project to introduce Virtual Chat (a combination of virtual agent and live chat; predecessor to Cognitive Service Management) to their customer-facing service offerings. Part of the project involved the prospect of learning Artificial Intelligence Markup Language (AIML) to assist with enabling the virtual agent to answer more of the Level 0 questions. OOTB, you can Ask Jenn: “Who is Batman?” and she’ll give you a snappy response, but if you ask, “Who is Robin?” she politely offers to do a Google Search for you. The Batman bit was AIML that ships with Virtual Chat. We learned that even a simple, high-impact subject like “password reset” was going to require extensive work and “AI” seemed like a lot of back end coding. In addition, this simulated agent was not smart enough to carry on a conversation or build a solution out of all the answers the user provided. This clearly wasn’t going to be Siri, Alexa or Watson.

When I heard that Dr. Lyle Ungar, international expert in AI and machine learning, was the keynote speaker at this year’s BMC Exchange in Chicago, I was pumped. I could see Cognitive Service Management (CSM) as a huge selling point for BMC and the Remedy Suite. Seven minutes into his presentation, the former electrical component manufacturing facility had an electrical failure. Isn’t THAT ironic! However, in just those seven minutes, several takeaways confirmed my thoughts about AI:

  1. It’s a lot of work.
  2. Pick out the top two or three high impact issues and work on those.
  3. A company should engage an expert to get them started but then finish the work themselves.

In the semi-darkness of the skylight lit room, Dr. Ungar explained that unlike limited human faculties, computers are great at memorization and can repeat memorized material flawlessly; forwards or backwards! Google trained their software to recognize house numbers and reached 95% accuracy quickly, considering human accuracy was at 98%. After several years and millions of dollars, Google achieved 98.1% accuracy—a huge accomplishment.

AI for a computer is a narrow band of ability, not what we think of as “intelligence” or IQ. With great effort, a computer can be programmed to play checkers, chess, bridge and even Go. But just because it knows how to play one game, that doesn’t mean that it can “learn” to play others by itself. Clearly, we’re safe from the science fiction that brought us Skynet and Global Thermonuclear War! The real power comes in the “Machine Learning” and “Predictive Analytics.” When the computer knows more about you than you realize, it has a much better chance of understanding inquiry and making a much more accurate answer to grab your attention. Mark Zuckerberg was not the first person to realize that!

This year’s Exchange had 5 tracks, and although initially conflicted, I chose the ITSM track. Unlike ITSM tracks I have followed in the past, this one was different. They weren’t talking about Incident Management and Change Management. They’ve shifted their focus to the three Core Components of BMC Helix: Cognitive, Cloud, and Container. There was even a live demo of a completely containerized installation of a fully baked Remedy ARSystem with ITSM Suite in just over 90 seconds.

One of the BMC fellows asked an intriguing question of Dr. Ungar that piqued my curiosity. I found out that he was Daren Goeson, the BMC Product Manager for Digital Workplace. I attended both of his lectures and got some valuable one-on-one time with him. Imagine what could happen if IBM’s Watson were to consume all the questions in your Service Request Management system and use that knowledge to carry on a more coherent conversation with your customer…that’s what Chatbot does! He said internally they refer to that as “chattifying” your service catalog and it’s all done with the Innovation Suite.

By the end of the day, my head was spinning from all the new things BMC is putting out to sustain and increase their share of the ITSM market!


About dick1stark

I am the President and founder of RightStar, Inc, an XTIVIA company. RightStar is a leading ITSM and DevOps consultancy and BMC Software Elite Solution Provider and Atlassian Gold Partner. My passion is customer success—whether it’s reducing the cost of service management, improving overall efficiency, or increasing end-user or employee satisfaction. Since founding RightStar in 2003, RightStar has made the INC 5000 list four times. In 2011, RightStar was awarded the prestigious National Capital Business Ethics Award (NCBEA) by the Society of Financial Service Professionals based upon RightStar’s foundation of honesty, ethics, and integrity. And in 2014, RightStar was selected by Forrester Research as one of 13 North American companies profiled in its ITSM Consultancy Wave Report. In 2019, BMC selected RightStar as its DSM North American Partner of the Year for its sales and partnership excellence. Finally, in November 2020, RightStar was acquired by XTIVIA, an innovative IT Solutions Provider. Dick is a graduate of Stanford University and a Project Management Professional (PMP).
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