IBM announced on July 30 that it is adding new artificial intelligence-powered chatbot capabilities to its MaaS360 Unified Endpoint Management (UEM) security platform.
The new MaaS360 Assistant is a chatbot that works over both text chat and voice. It enables users to make natural language queries to find emails, discover documents and schedule meetings, among other capabilities.
"IBM MaaS360 has invested in building AI functionality including natural language understanding and classification within the MaaS360 cloud, eliminating the need for data to be transferred to a third party for processing," Imtiazuddin Bellary, offering manager for MaaS360 at IBM Security, told eWEEK. "This enables MaaS360 to maintain data privacy for customers and their users."
The voice capability in MaaS360 Assistant does not come from IBM Watson, which helps to enable some of the cognitive capabilities in MaaS360. For the voice enablement and speech-to-text functionality, Bellary said the assistant leverages native speech recognition technology on iOS and Android.
IBM officially refers to its UEM platform as MaaS360 with Watson and updated the core platform on June 4 with multiple new capabilities, including a policy recommendation engine to help administrators with best practices and suggested configurations for endpoint security.
"MaaS360 continues to invest in building cognitive features and delivering insights to administrators and end users that aid them with ease of administration, security management and enhanced user productivity," Bellary said. "This happens with a mix of different AI technologies."
The MaaS360 Assistant was developed with AI capabilities that will enable it to evolve and learn over time, according to Bellary. The more it is used, the better it gets through continuous monitoring and feedback. The MaaS360 Assistant is for mobile device users. Bellary said that in the future, IBM may look to introduce an assistant for administrators on the portal.
Chatbots have become increasingly popular over the course of the last year for both consumer and enterprise use. By 2020, Gartner estimates that chatbots will be handling 85 percent of customer-service interactions. One of the challenges with mobile voice-activated assistants is that they will respond to any voice. Bellary said that initially the assistant does not recognize specific user voices.
"However, the assistant will evolve over time to identify a user through their voice and authorize access," he said. "We are also working toward authorizing users based on behavioral biometrics on the device."
The software-as-a-service (SaaS) model that MaaS360 employs allows for aggregation of the millions of other devices and tens of thousands of clients being managed by MaaS360 to look for relevant data, insights, best practices and behavioral characteristics that can all be contextually applied to any deployment of MaaS360, Bellary said.
"Leveraging this data and the vast amount of other end-user computing data, MaaS360 will use IBM Watson’s cognitive capabilities to become the trusted advisor for UEM practitioners, providing contextually relevant insights, recommendations, best practices and notifications for emerging or pending threats," he said.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.