Zagreb School of Economics and Management used IBM Cloud to build a virtual assistant that enhances information access

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If someone asked me just one year ago is it possible to get an answer from the admission office on a general student inquiry within 3 seconds only, I would say no. Queuing in front of the school’s admission office has been a practice in the higher education system, no matter how fast technology has evolved.

That’s why Zagreb School of Economics and Management (ZŠEM) partnered with IBM and Careesma.co, a Croatian international startup, to develop a digital assistant called Smarty which went live in September this year. Smarty uses IBM Watson Assistant, a service on the IBM Cloud which helps organizations to build a solution that understands natural-language input and uses machine learning to respond to customers in a way that simulates a conversation between humans.

Since September, students at ZŠEM are able to resolve their inquiries 24/7 from wherever they are located and within few seconds. Smarty responds to a wide range of general student inquiries, such as school curriculum, mentoring programs, scholarship, carrier opportunities and other in Croatian language.

In fact, students worked as a dedicated group at the school and helped to provide the content, needed to train the system. They have built a set of most common inquiries that students usually addressed to the admission office.

In one word, Smarty makes their life easier and IBM Cloud makes Careesma’s life easier.

I was exploring IBM Cloud offering and I was truly impressed to see that IBM Cloud offers 170+ services (AI, IoT, blockchain, serverless, microservices, etc.) for developers to build, deploy and manage cloud-native applications. Careesma is a young startup and this was our first experience with IBM Watson APIs on the IBM Cloud. This service provides a powerful toolset to developers which allows you to create innovative business models and unique customer services.

Using this technology to create valuable service for students in local language was one of the most exiting experiences.

Careesma.co is eager to continue to build AI and enterprise applications on IBM Cloud to continue to drive innovation and to scale globally.

 „We at ZŠEM are dedicated to provide world-class teaching experience to our students to equip them with essential skills for the knowledge-based economy. We realized we need to simplify student-facing services in order for them to spend more time on innovation, engagement and collaboration, “said Ðuro Njavro, Dean, Zagreb School of Economics and Management. „With the implementation of chatbot Smarty, we managed to achieve our goal. In addition, our personnel in the admission office is now focused on providing high-level consultancy to students.”

 

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