man walking past neon sign that says "NEWS"
PHOTO: Lora Ohanessian

Google released new products and enhancements that it said will "revolutionize" artificial intelligence-powered tools at its Google Cloud Next '18 conference last week at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. 

The tools include:

  • Cloud AutoML Vision, Natural Language, and Translation, available now in beta
  • New enhancements to Dialogflow Enterprise Edition, available now in beta
  • A new solution, Contact Center AI, available now in alpha
  • Cloud AutoML: The next step in democratization

Fei-Fei Li, chief scientist for Google AI, wrote in a blog post that a "significant gap exists between the extremes of what’s currently possible with machine learning." She cited data scientists using tools like TensorFlow and Cloud ML Engine. And, she added, you also have on another spectrum pre-trained machine learning models like Cloud Vision API delivering immediate results with minimal investment and technical proficiency. "But what about the countless customers that fall in between?" Li asked. "Many have needs beyond what’s available with pre-trained models, but don’t have the skills or resources to build their own custom solutions."

Cloud AutoML, she said, is designed to help because it can extend machine learning models to suit the specific needs of their domain without requiring any specialized knowledge in machine learning or coding. "Our first release, AutoML Vision, extends the Cloud Vision API to recognize entirely new categories of images," Li wrote.

Google also debuted, among other products and enhancements, AutoML Natural Language for predictive custom text categories specific to domains customers want. AutoML Translation is designed to help users upload translated language pairs to train custom translation models.

Some other news from Google Next ...

Genesys Integrates with Google Cloud Contact Center AI

Genesys, which provides omnichannel customer experience and contact center solutions, announced at Google Next its partnership to integrate with Google Cloud’s new Contact Center AI solution. The integration is designed to help companies deploy bots to help with customer experience programs. Genesys customers can now use the Google Cloud Contact Center AI to train and use new bots.

Genesys offers Kate, its AI platform that powers the company’s natural language understanding, orchestration, predictive routing, automation and more. Integrating Kate with the natural language understanding capabilities of the Google Cloud Contact Center AI will allow the system to detect what consumers are saying as well as glean their intent, Genesys officials said in a press release.

Looker Enhances Data Science Capability with Integration

Looker, a data platform company, has integrated with Google Cloud BigQuery ML (BQML) in a move designed to improve speed of data science workflows and help users operationalize insights with interactive predictive metrics. Data teams can create machine learning (ML) models directly in Google BigQuery via Looker. BQML predictive functionality will also be integrated into new or existing Looker Blocks; users can surface predictive measures in dashboards and applications.

In other customer experience software news ...  

ZoomInfo Appoints Derek Schoettle as CEO

ZoomInfo, a growth acceleration platform, appointed Derek Schoettle as its CEO and to its Board of Directors, the company announced in a press release. Schoettle assumed the role on July 10. Christopher Gaffney, managing director of Great Hill Partners, which last year acquired ZoomInfo, said in a press release the company wanted to recruit an "enterprise-class successor CEO" for ZoomInfo’s founder and CEO Yonatan Stern.

Schoettle joins ZoomInfo after four years at IBM. Most recently he was the chief business officer and general manager of the Watson and Cloud Platform business. Before IBM, Schoettle served as CEO of Cloudant, a database-as-a-service provider, and led that company through an acquisition by IBM. He has also held executive roles with Vertica Systems, acquired by HP, and Infocrossing and Intellireach, both acquired by Wipro. 

Stern, as part of the terms of ZoomInfo’s sale to Great Hill Partners in August last year, planned his departure from the company in June in order to pursue other interests in his home country of Israel. Stern, who founded the company in 2000, will remain on its Board of Directors.  

Ada, Zendesk Partner Up in Chatbots

Ada, which provides customer service chatbots, and Zendesk, a customer service and engagement platform, launched this week an integration to help with customer and agent experiences. Ada's AI technology trains chatbots to fulfill simple tasks. It also identifies when a user needs to be transferred to a live agent. Officials cited the example of a customer wanting to cancel their account. The chatbot will direct them to a live agent who may be able to convince them to stay. Zendesk Chat, a live chat and messaging platform, provides an open and customizable chatbot platform via the Conversations API. 

LinkedIn Campaign Manager Introduces New Reporting Experience 

LinkedIn has debuted a redesigned reporting experience for LinkedIn Campaign Manager, the company reported in a blog post this week. Taylor Greason, product manager at LinkedIn, wrote in a blog post that enhancements will make it easier to understand how campaigns perform and quickly optimize. Data in Campaign Manager, he reported, now loads faster. New navigation allows users to switch from accounts to campaigns to ads quickly. LinkedIn also updated the search capabilities. It also includes faster access to insights into key indicators like conversion events and placements on the LinkedIn Audience Network.

Blis Taps Microsoft Marketing Veteran Diane Perlman as CMO

Blis, which provides location data technology, has appointed Diane Perlman as chief marketing officer. She will be based in London and report directly to CEO Greg Isbister. Perlman comes to Blis after having spent the last nine months as interim CMO at video ad tech company Unruly. She previously led the UK marketing communications for Windows Phone at Microsoft and later created and ran the Microsoft Ventures Accelerator. She was subsequently the CMO at global startup accelerator MassChallenge.

Widen Launches Hootsuite Integration for Social Publishing

Digital asset management provider Widen this week partnered with Hootsuite to allow users to search for content from the Widen Collective within Hootsuite, a social media management platform. The integration aims to eliminate the step of downloading content from the Collective suite and re-uploading it to Hootsuite. Users can access Widen's DAM system for assets then use Hootsuite to post content, engage with customers and measure performance across social channels.  

“There was a small but inconvenient gap between our systems,” Chris Schroeder, product manager at Widen, said in a statement. “While downloading and re-uploading a file doesn’t seem like a major hassle, some of our global customers deploy hundreds, if not thousands, of assets per week across the world. At that scale, a little disconnection can add up to a lot of wasted time and frustration. This integration solves the problem.”

Yext Adds Amazon Alexa to Knowledge Network

Yext, which provides a Digital Knowledge Management (DKM) platform, has partnered with Amazon in a move to give businesses control over the answers Alexa provides about them. Company officials promised in a press release it will give consumers using voice search the most up-to-date facts about businesses: locations, contact information, hours of operation, and more. Yext customers will find Alexa in the Yext Knowledge Network, and their digital knowledge will sync automatically, according to company officials.