At Zuznow, giving enterprise mobility a voice

With cool frames, no less: Zuznow virtual assistant "Susie" has two things distant kin Siri never did -- an innate understanding of enterprise mobility, and a face.
By GREGORY ZELLER //

It’s been a busy week for artificial intelligence-focused app-developer Zuznow, which has taken a bold step into voice-controlled software and recruited an IBM veteran to up its enterprise-mobility game.

The Israeli tech import, a resident of the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology at Stony Brook University, speaks to the AI revolution with Susie, the “world’s first intelligent assistant plugin that brings voice-control and chatbots to any enterprise mobile app,” according to the Zuznow.

Helping the firm ride that AI wave will be IBM mobile sales leader Eya Levin, who was appointed Oct. 21 to Zuznow’s advisory board.

Noting the prevalence of “voice-controlled Siri-like assistants” in modern tech, Zuznow has introduced a similar interface for its “AI-powered rapid mobile application development platform,” which leverages complex web applications into secure mobile software for managers, employees and customers.

Big year: Zuznow cofounders Chen and Rachel Levkovich.

Big year: Zuznow cofounders Chen and Rachel Levkovich.

There are many similarities between Siri and Susie, besides a two-syllable female name starting with “S.” (For the record, “Siri” is either a Scandinavian-languages name for “beautiful victory” or an acronym for “speech interpretation and recognition interface,” depending on your source. “Susie” is … well, short for “Susan,” though not actually.)

Both can interact with users on an intuitive vocal plane, providing hands-free searches, program access and task completion. But where Apple’s iOS attendant can handle everything from reading emails to making dinner reservations, her distant cousin is focused on those enterprise-mobility applications.

“Within hours,” according to Zuznow, Susie can add voice-control and chatbots to customized mobile apps. She’s part of the “next generation of conversational app creation” happening at the circa-2011 Tel Aviv-based startup, which moved into its CEWIT offices in April following a year-long visa snafu for cofounders Chen and Rachel Levkovich.

Noting critical (and rapidly changing) trends in user-interface (the screens, buttons and icons that control a device) and user experience (the gut reaction to a product or service), Chen Levkovich said a “big focus” for his company is “empowering enterprises to react in real time,” thereby increasing their client engagement.

That puts a premium on real-time, conversational controls like Susie, which can literally talk users through jQuery, JavaScript, HTML and CSS app-creation protocols.

“Users expect this level of sophistication when using an app, whether in their personal or professional lives,” Levkovich noted. “This latest capability allows our clients to deliver with little coding.”

Zuznow predicts that Susie will increase user engagement “by more than 50 percent in every app,” which would be in line with the prognostications of Connecticut-based research firm Gartner, which counts both “AI/advanced machine learning” and “intelligent apps” – including “virtual personal assistants” – among its Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2017, released this week.

Eyal Levin: IBM vet likes what he sees.

Eya Levin: IBM vet likes what he sees.

In Levin – a sales leader with extensive experience in the mobile market, including 16 combined years with IBM’s Software Group and Cloud Business units – Zuznow has added a potentially key contributor.

“Levin’s expertise in enterprise mobility makes him an invaluable asset to Zuznow,” Levkovich said in a statement announcing the advisory board appointment.

During his time at IBM, Levin worked on mobile strategies and app-implementation with leading financial-services, healthcare and retail companies. His primary focus was growing revenues by expanding client and employee engagements, largely through new enterprise mobility models.

Those experiences make him a perfect advisor for the CEWIT-based firm, according to Levin, who has been “observing Zuznow for several years.”

“I’m always happy to see the amazing value that the Zuznow technology brings to each customer’s mobility journey,” Levin said. “The platform’s speed and seamless usage turn every mobile engagement into a simple and successful project that enriches each enterprise’s mobile presence.”

Susie’s debut and the Levin hire continue the momentum at Zuznow, a 2015 inductee into Empire State Development’s Start-Up NY program. Earlier this year, the firm notched its first U.S. customer – Manhattan-based IDB Bank – and kicked of a funding round targeting $5 million in outside investments.

Those moves followed a 2015 go-to-market deal that added Zuznow’s mobilization solutions to IBM’s enterprise mobility package, MobileFirst.

The inherent synergies of adding Levin to the advisory board are evident, and Levkovich predicts big returns.

“Our advisory board provides insights to guide the company’s roadmap and financial growth,” the cofounder and president said. “We’re thrilled to have Eyal bring his years of experience in the mobile market to Zuznow as we look to expand our product offerings and grow our revenue base.”


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