MWC 2018: Telefonica Rolls Out Personal Assistant Aura
Spanish telecom company Telefonica presented Aura, its own digital personal assistant with a voice, according to Bloomberg.
The carrier is set to release Aura in six countries, a key plank of CEO Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete’s data-focused strategy. Aura will initially be aimed at improving customer service with artificial intelligence by responding to commands to provide billing information, change television channels or start a video call, predicting future needs from past behavior.
“It’s a one-stop shop,” Pallete said at an event in Barcelona in advance of Mobile World Congress. “We want our customers to talk to the technology and get things done.” Telefonica is among telecom carriers seeking new areas of growth to profit from surging data use as the number of connected devices soars.
Pallete plans to build on Telefonica’s capabilities with data, while French carrier Orange has been expanding into banking and Vodafone is focused on machine-to-machine communication in the so-called internet of things. The roll-out of Aura comes a year after Telefonica revealed preliminary plans for the service and will include Spain, the U.K., Germany, Brazil, Argentina and Chile, to start.
Aura will be integrated into other platforms to reach Telefonica customers, starting with Facebook’s Messenger in Germany and Chile and later Google Assistant and Microsoft's Cortana. The personal assistant is just one service from Telefonica’s internal digital project, its so-called fourth platform, run by CDO Chema Alonso, who oversees a team of about 700 people.
While the wait for Aura is over for Telefonica’s customers, it’s a different story for shareholders. The carrier has yet to spell out specifically how Aura and other digital projects can dramatically change the company and drive revenue growth enough to make a dent in its balance sheet.