Deakin's Genie assistant tackles 12,000 conversations a day

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Deakin's Genie assistant tackles 12,000 conversations a day

Uni prepares for commercialisation.

Deakin University’s digital concierge, Genie, has been put through its paces since launching in 2018, handling over 12,000 conversations in a single day - an important stress test as the uni begins to spin out the tool.

Genie has been in the works for since 2015 and was first publicly launched last year as a means to give students personalised, relevant information in an instant and anticipate their future needs.

The in-house built bot does so through integration with a raft of systems at Deakin, including the learning management system, digital library, and other administration support systems, all underpinned by artificial intelligence and predictive analytics.

More than 25,000 students have downloaded the app since it first launched, and has proven especially popular with new students ahead of big milestones, Deakin’s chief digital officer William Confalonieri said.

Students have taken advantage of Genie’s round-the-clock availability, unlike the university’s contact centre operators, to pose a “multitude of questions”, at times initiating 12,000 conversations a day.

“The top 10 conversations were oriented around first-year student queries so things like timetables, assignments and unit resources are the most common topics for conversation,” Confalonieri said.

Top 10 Genie requests from January to April 2019:

  1. Show my assignments
  2. Show my timetable
  3. Find unit resources
  4. Latest news in my units
  5. What are the trimester dates
  6. What’s my DeakinCard balance?
  7. Campus map or directions
  8. What do I have on next?
  9. Show me jobs
  10. What do I have on loan?

However, he noted that the app has the capacity to deal with a more diverse range of enquiries to enhance the student experience - a trait which should also relate to broader consumer markets as the university looks to export the bot.

“Genie can answer questions such as where’s the prayer room, where’s the campus doctor, or where can I find the bicycle storage?

“The conversation process with Genie is a personal experience, Genie knows who the student is and adjusts its answers accordingly. It’s far more personal than other digital FAQ based assistant products on the market.”

Allianz Australia is the first commercial partner to trial the app, to pilot a version to help injured workers navigate the complicated workers compensation process.

“I'm confident that this is merely the tip of Genie’s potential in the digital concierge space,” Confalonieri added.

Genie won the 2018 iTnews Benchmark Award for best overall IT project. Submissions for the 2020 Benchmark Awards open today.

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