Conversational artificial intelligence provider Uniphore Technologies Inc. today announced it has acquired France-based Hexagone.
For those not familiar with Hexagone, the company brings together voice, video and text-based data to provide AI-based insights to help companies understand human behavior and sentiment. This adds to the emotion detection capabilities Uniphore gained with the 2021 acquisition of Emotion Research Labs. As part of the acquisition, Hexagone founder and Chief Executive Camille Srour and his team of data scientists have joined Uniphore.
With the addition of Hexagone, Uniphore can significantly improve its ability to understand customer sentiment and behavior, across all channels, in its X Platform. The world has become increasingly digitized with brands relying on bots, virtual agents, messaging and methods of dealing with customers. Although these add a level of efficiency, they dehumanize customer conversations.
Behavioral analytics can be used to bring empathy and accuracy into interactions and direct next action. For example, if an individual calls a retailer and starts interacting with a brand’s virtual agent and is upset, the system could immediately transfer the call to a human instead of frustrating the person more.
There are many conversational AI vendors today, but Uniphore is unique in that it has taken a platform approach where it’s trying to deliver on all aspects of the technology. That would let a Uniphore customer interact with their customers via any channel but then blend it with behavioral analytics, allowing for the optimal mix of human and digital interactions.
That has been the goal of Uniphore since it was founded. Just after launching, I discussed the vision for the company with former Cisco Systems Inc. Chief Executive John Chambers (pictured, left), whose VC firm JC2 Ventures was an early investor in the company. In this 2021 ZKast with Chambers, he created parallels with what Uniphore is doing with conversational AI to Cisco’s strategy in the late 1990s.
Under his watch, Cisco gained de facto standard status and became the overwhelming market leader in networking by bringing together all forms of communications — voice, video and data — on a single network. Similarly, Uniphore is bringing together all conversational channels – voice, video and data — into a single platform.
It’s this concept of understanding all aspects of conversations that’s being the focal point for Uniphore. “Conversations are the lifeblood of every business and being able to derive value from them is critical as companies compete to succeed,” said Umesh Sachdev (right), co-founder and CEO of Uniphore. “This acquisition brings unique capabilities to our X platform, making it the only platform that can fuse critical signals from different behavioral modalities in a conversation together. This ultimately provides organizations with the right information to make every conversation count.”
Last week, Uniphore announced the acquisition of U.K.-based Red Box, which solves the data sovereignty problem for regulated industries such as financial services and healthcare. The company also enables Uniphore to improve its compliance capabilities, which is an area in dire need of innovation. Most companies have good processes in place for monitoring text-based conversations or phone calls when the individual is in the office. With hybrid work, those controls are no longer there. Compliance needs to be automated and driven by AI, so all interactions are being watched.
This is Uniphore’s second acquisition in two weeks and the fifth since its launch. Given all the layoffs in the cloud communications industry, it may seem surprising that Uniphore is buying companies and adding headcount, but that’s another page from the John Chambers playbook. Through the years, he has told me repeatedly that when markets are down, that’s the best time to invest and set the company up to break away from the competition when the market turns up. During the early 2000s, when the dot-com bubble had burst, Cisco went on a shopping spree and that created the foundation for the company’s next wave of growth.
The approach that Uniphore is taking is in line with my own definition of conversational AI. I’ve been highly critical of the Gartner Magic Quadrant on this topic because it equates conversational AI to chat bots, but it’s so much more than that. In fact, without AI, chat bots are next to useless and cause more customer frustration than they solve. Businesses should be investing in that area, but they need to be careful to ensure that empathy can be delivered regardless of the communications medium.