Statistics Estonia's AI solution Iti helps both the respondent and the consumer of statistics
The number of information queries to Statistics Estonia has grown strongly over the years. While 20 years ago, Statistics Estonia received about 1000 information queries per year, after a while e-mail became the most popular form of communication, which grew the number of queries per year to 2200. Since the autumn of 2017, it has been possible to chat with a customer service representative via online chat on the Statistics Estonia website (stat.ee). This communication channel increased the number of information queries per year to 5000. In order to cope with the new situation, Iti –Statistics Estonia’s AI solution – helps to find information more quickly than before, thereby enabling the customer support of Statistics Estonia to focus on responding to more difficult queries.
Statistics Estonia’s customer support provides consultations to both data providers and users of statistics. The virtual assistant Iti – created in collaboration with the start-up AlphaBlues, which develops artificial intelligence in Estonia – knows the population of Estonia, the size of the wage gap, average wages and consumer price changes, and many other things. Iti also assists the data provider, whose typical questions are related to activities in the electronic data submission portal and the filling in of questionnaires. If Iti is unable to provide an answer, it will redirect the query based on its content to the customer support specialist of the data provider or the user of the statistics. Iti has obtained its knowledge from the questions sent through online chats during the year, and gets wiser with every query.
When communicating with Iti, it must be taken into account that due to resolving different situations, the capability of the virtual assistant improves over time, as with any other machine learning programme. It is premature to expect that Iti will immediately be able to answer all questions, but by communicating with people, it learns every day. Small hiccups are common with the virtual assistant, and they are sometimes quite humorous.
AlphaBlues is a startup developing artificial intelligence in Estonia. The chat bots built by AlphaBlues during the last two years are also used for communicating with customers by several other large Estonian and foreign companies - for example, LHV Pank, Monese, Lattelecom, Tallink, Telia Estonia. According to the company, chat bots can be built quite differently, and the solution created for Statistics Estonia was primarily based on the fact that it would make the business processes of organizations more efficient and offer customers help quicker.