Lord Lloyd and EB: A Classic English Butler Story
Author: Moshe BenBassat, CEO
It’s morning. EB, the longtime butler of Lord Lloyd, opens the car door for his boss, who steps into the back seat of his Bentley. EB asks, “Going to the House of Lords, Sir?” Lloyd taps on the glass, signaling a “yes,” and goes on reading the morning newspaper (on his iPad, of course).
Upon arrival at the House of Lords, Lloyd goes into the session, while EB joins the Butlers’ assembly in the parking lot.
What is going on in the Butlers’ assembly is actually no less important than what is going on inside the House of Lords. EB keeps his ears open, and is happy to share, and mostly collect, all sorts of informational items that his boss may find useful – from local economics, to love stories and affairs, all the way to the King’s politics.
By 11AM, the Lords’ session is over. Lloyd, still pre-occupied with politics, walks toward his car, where EB greets him, and adds that they will shortly be on their way to the Polo Club for Lloyd’s weekly game, which will be followed by lunch. Needless to say, upon arrival, EB hands Lloyd a bag with the appropriate clothing, shoes and other items for the Polo game. As Lloyd steps into the gathering area, EB goes to the horses’ area, to make sure that Donkey (Lloyd’s preferred horse for Mondays) is ready, and then joins his fellow Butlers to watch the game.
At the end of the day, as they are driving back home, EB provides Lloyd with updates and briefs him on what he learned during the day, ending with, “and everything is already on your iPad” (while Lloyd was having lunch, EB typed the information into Lloyd’s iPad). Lloyd turns on his iPad to read EB’s News of the Day, enjoying some of the juicy information EB has communicated. Lloyd has become specifically interested in the financial troubles of his next door neighbor, Lord F. As much as he sympathizes with F, he wants to be the person who buys F’s property when the time comes. Lloyd is not at all surprised to see that EB has already prepared a full folder, code named F, with links to GoogleEarth for photos, and the most recent street information he gathered in his conversations with his fellow English Butlers. Lloyd marks the topic with ALERT symbol signaling to EB he desires to be updated as soon as any new updates are available.
That’s EB. EB is always one step ahead of Lloyd, predicting Lloyd’s needs, and proactively handling them with great efficiency. Communication is efficient, typically avoiding open questions but rather presenting Lloyd with concrete alternatives to select from; alternatives which are appropriate for the current context. Most of the time, Lloyd just taps on the glass, or nods, for a yes or a no. If there is a need for information on any subject, it is EB’s fingers that do all the walking (or his ears that do the listening), searching for information on the web, or typing-in telephone numbers, information he collected during the day, etc. into Lloyds’ iPad.
What about computerized butlers? These are emerging for consumers, with Siri (Apple) and Jelly Bean (Google) as two examples in this direction. ClickSoftware’s focus is the business world. Imagine a day in which every business professional has a butler embedded inside his mobile device, one that predicts his business needs (and possibly his personal needs as well), and takes action on them proactively. That is exactly the idea of the ClickButler technology (patent pending) we embedded in ClickSoftware’s apps for mobile workers based upon our business process and policy platform. A fundamental pre-requisite for any of the above capabilities is context awareness, which in the business world requires far higher sophistication than in the consumer world. Similarly for the actions that need to be taken at a given context to account for potential chain effects. We are not talking about writing some explicit code to achieve “butler behavior” at a local level. This cannot work, nor scale at an organizational level. The ClickButler technology brings together Artificial Intelligence, mobility, and mathematics to systematize the creation of butler behavior, including tools to configure them at a group and individual level. Certain butler behaviors are derived from company practices and policies and thus are common to all users. Critically in the business world, a massive number of butler agents run simultaneously, accessing common data sources with potential interactions between the sources, the users, and the intelligent butler agents. What about my butler interacting with your butler inquiring about the spare part (e.g. a belt) I need, which the back-office says you have three of them?
This will take customer service, business productivity and user experience to new heights. In summary, you do not need to own a Bentley to have a butler.