New Zealand Enterprise AI Platform Aider Arrives in North America
New Zealand digital assistant developer Aider has expanded to North America. The company’s eponymous platform provides small business owners with a conversational interface for data applications.
The Best Employee
“We think of Aider as being the best employee, the one who can tell you all of the numbers and analyze them for you,” Aider co-founder Brendan Roberts told Voicebot in an interview. “This is the information a small business owner needs on a daily basis. Aider [simplifies] getting the information you need.”
Aider behaves much like consumer-focused virtual assistants, including answering questions about the weather and news and setting events on a calendar. What makes it stand out is the conversational interface with business software. Business owners can ask Aider about revenue, specific sales numbers, and even information on which employees are in the office that day. Aider is also able to decipher the analysis of those raw numbers, spotting trends, and letting the user know if there are any oddities like a spike or sudden dip in sales.
“Aider speeds up all the tedious parts of running a business,” Roberts said. “It can watch your schedule and your money. The data is already all there, Aider makes it easier to see the important parts.”
Open For Business
Aider connects to business apps and organizes them on one platform. Square, Shopify, and QuickBooks Online all integrate into the app, which can then discuss what it finds on them with the user conversationally. At the moment, most of Aider’s clients are in retail and hospitality. The businesses are small, mostly under 50 employees. As the software learns and improves, however, Roberts said he expects there will be more diverse varieties of businesses using the software.
“We’ve trained Aider to understand the vocabulary in [the hospitality and retail verticals, and our app ecosystem reflects these verticals too,” Roberts said. “We will extend to other verticals in time.”
Users can speak to Aider via voice or text, depending on their preference. As the AI learns more about the user, it starts to adapt to their preferences and to understand them better.
“We originally used Google’s Dialogflow, augmented by our own conversation management platform,” Roberts said. “However, we have needed to design our own NLU to ensure our customers get the best experience and we can truly manage conversations. We want to be the ’small business language’ experts and these kinds of conversations include unique context management, multiple intents, and also different vocabulary across different verticals.”
Applying voice and AI software to enterprises is increasingly popular. New startups like Vobo and divisions of giants like Microsoft are all engaged in creating and selling voice apps or tools that enable voice interactions to businesses. Verticals as diverse as office organization and fast food drive-thrus are all now experimenting and improving the technology and working to integrate it into how the businesses operate. Aider may be ahead of the pack in its approach to bringing digital assistants to small businesses, but it likely won’t be alone for long.