For the construction industry, some of the best productivity tools come from ideas that initially target the consumer market. With this in mind, you’ve likely heard of Siri, but have you heard of SARA? Two companies are working together to prove virtual assistants can do far more than answer basic questions and perform simple tasks.

Cisco, www.cisco.com, and noHold, www.nohold.com, a provider of Web-based self-service solutions, are collaborating on SARA (Services Automated Resolution Agent), a virtual assistant the companies say will integrate with sophisticated backoffice systems and offer a “deeper understanding of complex problem resolution.”

SARA jives with Cisco’s vision to leverage AI (artificial intelligence) in order to make use of the data stored in networking devices, to increase speed to resolution, to make realtime updates, and to perform tasks for network administrators. In one example, the companies say the virtual-assistant solution can capture data from a sophisticated router, troubleshoot, and then pass the resulting information to an administrator, ensuring the situation is resolved as quickly as possible.

noHold says the ability to streamline and automate complex customer-service interactions could be revolutionary. The company began working with Cisco and its onePK API (application programming interface)—a toolkit for development, automation, and rapid service creation—last year. The two partners hoped to demonstrate the technical feasibility of connecting a virtual assistant with Cisco’s backend systems.

They’ve done so with SARA. The project has proved a virtual assistant can “talk” to a device, troubleshoot, diagnose issues, and make updates. As complexity among machines and networks ramps up, the industry needs better ways to operate and manage these complexities. Thanks to solutions such as SARA, companies can use increasingly complex machines and AI to interpret other machines and maximize value from their technology investments. noHold sees a very bright future for AI and what companies will be able to accomplish.

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