MAYA: Abbott’s AI based personal assistant for its sales force

In early 2018, Abbott became the first in Indian pharmaceutical industry to deploy an AI assistant for its field force. Since launch, Maya has addressed close to 12,000 queries and 69% of the field force rate Maya as helpful

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New Delhi: Abbott, in association with SmartBots AI, has successfully launched an innovative new virtual assistant to support and engage their pan-India sales force, and her name is Maya. As a global healthcare company, Abbott says it has taken a leadership role in implementing digital solutions across all stakeholders, including patients, doctors and employees, through the adoption of integrated technology solutions.

In early 2018, Abbott became first in the Indian pharmaceutical industry to deploy an AI assistant for its field force. Abbott’s Pharmaceuticals Division initiated a pilot by getting around 3,000 sales employees to start engaging with Maya for their day to day queries. Maya acts as a personal assistant to the employee, providing sales operations support and keeping them ready for the day, providing access to contextual information at their fingertips. She is their virtual assistant while they are in the field meeting doctors. With Maya handling the nitty-gritties of querying and fetching information from enterprise applications, an employee can focus on the crucial aspects of his role and leave the spadework to Maya.

As per the company, Maya is a BOT with a personality. Developed by SmartBots AI, and powered by Amazon’s LeX technology, she uses a voice or chat interface to communicate with employees in simple natural language, and provides them the assistance they need. She acts as a facilitator, helping employees to tap into an enterprise knowledge base (like SalesForce or Tableau) through familiar, easy-to-use communication channels.

Abbott has deployed this virtual assistant to more than 8,000 employees and plans to use the SmartBots AI platform to build bots for several other departments.

The results of this pilot study have been encouraging. Since launch, Maya has addressed close to 12,000 queries. Currently, 32% of the monthly queries raised by Abbott reps are now being answered by Maya with a 74% success rate. Medical representatives can also check their execution parameters, expense reimbursement status, plan for the day and leave balance on Maya leading to increased satisfaction. 69% of the field force rate Maya as helpful.

Having tested Maya’s capabilities with the Sales team, Abbott has deployed this virtual assistant to more than 8,000 employees and plans to use the SmartBots AI platform to build bots for several other departments.

On scaling Maya since the pilot, Mr Deepak Chembath, Director Business Effectiveness, Abbott India commented, “While Maya started as a chat BOT answering redundant questions, over a period of time the scope of Maya grew. With integration across enterprise systems and self-learning (machine learning) from usage, Maya makes it simple for the field force to access critical business insights.”

On what makes Maya unique, Mr Chembath explained: “With most commercial chatbots, failures are not handled well but with Maya, any unanswered query gets logged as a ticket with our employee helpdesk. The unique differentiator is that Maya gets continuously trained on failed questions and is able to answer such questions going forward, thus making it an intuitive technology.”

Talking about the Maya’s learning ability, Mr Narsimha Rao Polisetty, Founder of SmartBots mentioned, “We designed Maya to evolve with every single conversation. She has supervised machine learning capabilities that help flag any unexpected behavior. Our objective is to provide a platform where companies can build and manage their own bots, depending on their employees’ specific needs. We can deploy bots across multiple channels, like Skype or Alexa, and can be used by anyone who wants business insights right at their fingertips.”