AI, Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing in Action

SNIA Cloud Storage recently hosted a fascinating webcast on the real world use of IBM Watson – the computer that mesmerized viewers on “Jeopardy!” by answering questions accurately and faster than its human competitors. Our webcast, “Customer Support through Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning,” detailed how Watson is being used as a virtual support assistant, named Elio, at NetApp. We had many interesting questions during the live event which is now available on-demand. Here are answers to them all from our expert presenters who have been driving the success of Elio – Ross Ackerman from NetApp and Robin Marcenac from IBM.

Q. Why did NetApp build an Elio?

A. Elio is an example of NetApp’s data driven innovation. NetApp experts train Elio on our case histories. Using Watson cognitive computing, Elio provides top answers and solves problems, on average, four times faster than traditional methods.

Q. What happens if Elio can’t answer my question?

A. Elio asks you whether you would like to chat with a technical support engineer or create a case. During technical support hours, Elio can route you to a technical support engineer for additional help. After hours, Elio opens a case, and an engineer contacts you during staffed hours.

Q. If I start a chat or open a case, will I always chat with Elio?

A.  Not always. When you start a chat, you fill out a brief intake form to help NetApp understand what kind of question you have. If Elio has been trained on the topic, you will chat with Elio. If Elio hasn’t been trained on the topic, during technical support hours you will chat with a technical support engineer; outside technical support hours, Elio will open a case and an engineer will contact you.

Q. What does Elio do when a critical issue is reported, which usually, as a customer, you want to speak with a real live person?

A. At the beginning of the case creation workflow, users are informed (before being routed to Elio) that they should contact NetApp Support directly for any critical, or “P1”, issues. As an additional safeguard, Elio is trained to understand these “P1” issues, such as a down filer situation. In these scenarios Elio will immediately determine that the user needs support from a live engineer and will route them accordingly to the remaining case creation process or to a live chat session.

Q. Can you provide us with Elio’s effectiveness in correctly answering a technical question?

A. Elio is providing answers, guidance, and recommendations 4 times faster than methods available without Elio assistance.  Elio has been able to free up thousands of hours of time for our support engineers to provide higher value human-to-human decision based and relationship based interactions.

Q. What has been NetApp customer’s reaction to Elio?

A. Customers are using Elio with success and getting answers to problems and questions in real time from their choice of channel. Customers have a choice to interact with Elio or not.  Customers are showing their “reaction to Elio” by their growing use of Elio who has engaged and assisted answering thousands of customer questions to date.

Q. NetApp Elio – does the customer have a choice not to use it?

A. Elio is embedded within both the case creation and live chat workflows on the NetApp Support Site because he is trained and capable of providing answers and solutions to commonly asked questions from our customers and partners. That said, if a user does not wish to chat with Elio they can simply bypass the conversation by clicking a “Skip” button.

Q. How did Elio get his name?

A. Elio’s first job at NetApp was with SolidFire, NetApp’s Flash based Cloud Infrastructure product. After the acquisition of SolidFire by NetApp, Elio found a great opportunity within NetApp’s customer support team to be its Virtual Support Assistant and first responder to Digital Support assistance. Elio was promoted to be customer facing and interact directly with customers in September 2017.  We look forward to many more great outcomes from Elio in his career.














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