Malte Kosub, Founder of Future of Voice
Future of Voice, based in Berlin, is one of the world's leading agencies for Conversational AI. Since 2016 the highly specialised team, consisting of consultants, voice user interface designers (VUI), as well as front and backend developers, has been designing and developing innovative voice applications for digital assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Automated dialogues for call centres, chatbots and messengers are also part of the Berlin-based service provider's portfolio. In an interview with "Projekt Zukunft", founder and managing director Malte Kosub introduces the new "Parloa" software and says where he sees his company in five years.
Your start-up has been around for three years now - what was your intention to enter the market?
With the technological breakthrough of Natural Language Processing (NLP) in 2017, since when an artificial intelligence can understand as many words from callers as a call centre employee, we are excited about the topic "Conversational AI". We found out how well AI and humans complement each other. For example, a lot of time can be saved by using artificial intelligence, so that call centre staff can concentrate on the really complex concerns of customers. Based on these findings, we identified a need for the use of this technology in the enterprise environment and therefore developed our Conversational AI Parloa software this summer, which is currently experiencing major and exciting developments.
Could you briefly explain what is behind the AI Parloa software - what exactly do you offer here?
With our Parloa software, companies automate their most important communication channels. This includes, for example, rapid recognition of concerns from free-text responses on the phone to reduce customer waiting times and minimise repetitive work by account managers to enable real people to deal with complex and challenging customer issues.
We enable our clients such as ERGO, Decathlon, Vodafone or the German Red Cross to combine state-of-the-art AI technology with their CRM systems and other tools, while maintaining customer dialogues for multiple platforms in one place. Instead of building separate silos for telephony, chat and other dialogue channels, Parloa can provide a central interface in customer communication.
How are you financed?
We are mainly financed through our customers in the SaaS business. In addition, we have received a great deal of financial support from the EU and the BMWi since our foundation and have already been able to attract the first industry-relevant investors to Parloa.
What have been the biggest challenges since your start-up?
A great challenge for young companies like us is always of course customer acquisition. A good idea and its implementation as software do not bring customers on board. And how good an idea really is is always decided by the market. It is therefore extremely important to be in contact with our existing customers and to know their needs in this new field.
One interview said there was a lot of potential in the field of language assistants - why is that? Or has that changed?
I am convinced that digital assistants can make our lives easier. And the 2020 Postbank study confirmed this just a few weeks ago: Every third German uses language assistants. I see great potential in customer service and e-commerce in particular: nothing is easier than saying in the bathroom in the morning: "Alexa, tell ERGO I want to report a claim" or "Hey Google, book me a flight ticket to Munich."
Now there are also critical voices warning against language assistants - especially with regard to data privacy, keyword GDPR ... What do you have to say about this? Or rather, what was the technical reaction?
Alexa and Google Assistant are constantly discussing the GDPR, which means that only very limited use cases with personal data are implemented. With Parloa it is also possible to develop individual channel-independent voice applications which are available in the contact centre or on websites.
We comply with the highest data protection standards and all our software is hosted in the EU. This is indeed one of our biggest competitive advantages!
You have just successfully launched the Parloa software and large companies such as ERGO, Vodafone and Bayerischer Rundfunk are among your customers. How will things continue this year?
Hopefully just as successfully as the last years! We are noticing a strong interest in Parloa and are holding exciting discussions with many interested companies. In addition, there are some important features on our roadmap that could, I believe, quickly catapult Parloa out of sight of our competitors. We have also entered into exciting collaborations this year and have been able to attract more investors to Parloa.
Where do you see Future of Voice in five years?
We work as a team every day fully convinced that in five years Parloa will be the best integrated AI solution for customer communication. This starts with a simple and clear interface, continues with the greatest possible flexibility through open interfaces and strictest data protection conformity, and ends with our own NLP technology and smart training algorithms.
Many thanks for the interview.