The City of Oulu launches an innovation project utilizing Intelligent Automation to offer excellent service to all its customers at all times

The city of Oulu has entered into an innovation partnership with the intelligent automation service companies Digital Workforce and Front AI. The purpose of the partnership is to develop an AI- service bot for the city’s customer services. The aim of the project is to improve service and guarantee its availability to all customers at all times.

The intelligent virtual assistant, OuluBot, will be based on conversational AI making it much more capable and secure than traditional chat bots. OuluBot will be capable of truly interactive conversation as well as handling many service requests independently from start to finish. The service bot will act as the primary point of contact for all of the city’s customers.

The bot will not only look for answers from pre-recorded question-answer pairs but will be able to search up relevant information from open data and the city’s resources. It can also be used to automate various service processes fully. When launched, OuluBot will be able to handle complex requests, such as applications and other transactions, through chat and various social media channels.

“We look forward to developing a revolutionary tool for the city, that in addition to delivering advice in fluent language, is able to handle customer service processes from start to finish. The developed solution will be connectable to all the city’s existing systems as well as be available to customers around the clock on different devices – including mobile”, says Jari Annala, the founder of Front AI.

The City of Oulu chose its partners based on the quality of the offered solution. Digital Workforce is an internationally leading service company specializing in intelligent automation. The company has successfully automated the processes of several large companies and public organizations utilizing AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technologies. Front AI is the market’s leading expert in solutions based on conversational AI that improve the quality and functionality of customer service. Together the partnering companies were able to offer the city a unique solution combining their core capabilities.

The companies will start the development of OuluBot together with the city, for which Oulu has received Business Finland project funding for 2020 – 2021. The aim is to develop a solution that can easily be replicated for the use of other organizations in the future. The project is implemented as an innovative public procurement, which enables the city to involve local residents and staff to innovate in the project.

“OuluBot is of a new generation of intelligent digital employees never before seen in the Finnish public sector. The innovation partnership enables the development of excellent digital services for Oulu residents, tourists, and companies. In addition, central to the project is that the built solution is replicable to other organizations – boosting the development of customer-centric digital services further”, sums Timo Maisila, Head of Public Sector Accounts at Digital Workforce.

The readiness of people to use digital services has risen over the past years, and as a result, the demands and expectations of local residents regarding these services are also at a high level. “It could be said that we are forced to develop OuluBot – a virtual assistant that can deliver on our customers’ needs”, says Veli-Matti Keloneva, Chief Financial Officer of the City of Oulu.

“To be able to provide services outside office hours 24/7, we need to be able to provide the service cost-effectively. Our goal is that OuluBot will help us offer more customer-oriented service where our clients can get service quickly and effectively on one-stop – regardless of what the topic of their question is”, Veli-Matti continues.

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