Applying Intelligence and Improving the User Experience

October 21, 2019
Bret Tushaus
Vice President of Product Management

By Bret Tushaus, Vice President of Product Management at Deltek.

We are living in an app centric world where technology, in some way, touches everything. From Alexa’s natural language and machine learning to the self-driving and smart sensing mechanisms in our vehicles, intelligence based technology is everywhere.  As a result, consumers of technology are becoming more and more expectant of intelligence within the apps they interact with on a day to day basis and this expectation has definitely extended into the workplace. 

Deltek recognizes these expectations and, more importantly, sees the value that intelligence can bring into the solutions it provides its customers. Deltek is currently focused on three core areas when it comes to innovating within the solution stack. These three focus areas include Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR), Machine Learning / Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing (NLP).

In addition to these areas of focus, Deltek is also committed to purposeful innovation. That is, innovation that has true, practical, value-adding characteristics; not innovation just for the sake of innovation. With this philosophy and these areas of focus as a key driver of our innovation efforts, we are introducing features and functionality that is not only playing into the intelligence expectation but is also creating efficiencies among our customer base. 

Intelligent Time and Expense

Time and Expense is used by nearly everyone within most organizations. Therefore, anything we can do to make the interaction with time and expense applications more efficient can have far reaching benefits. We are focused on making our time and expense apps intelligent. The first area where this comes into play is in the use of ICR or “intelligent Character Recognition”. ICR takes OCR and adds intelligence to it. By snapping a simple picture of an expense receipt, the application can create the associated expense report. However, by adding intelligence to the equation, the app can also use contents of that receipt to suggest what type charge it is, to what account it should be charged and how to classify the vendor.  In addition, the app can apply machine learning to learn the habits of a user to make those suggestions smarter over time.  For example, if a particular user always associates a charge from Vendor X to project XYZ and charge type 001, that suggestion can be made next time Vendor X is detected from a receipt.

Hey Deltek

Hey Deltek was first introduced in 2018 in the Vantagepoint product and has taken hold as a very simple way to interact with the solution. Through the use of natural language processing, end users can have a conversation with Vantagepoint to navigate and create/edit information.  Since its introduction, Hey Deltek has begun to expand its coverage within Vantagepoint and is also starting to manifest itself within other Deltek products. However, one of the other concepts that has grown out of Hey Deltek is the idea of it speaking back to the user. Instead of just using the Hey Deltek interface to issues commands, what if Hey Deltek used a combination of artificial intelligence and machine learning and spoke back to the user and made suggestions and provided reminders. For example, Hey Deltek could recognize that it’s time for a user to run a specific report based on past behavior or patterns and automatically present that report to the user.  Or, Hey Deltek could recognize the day of the week and the tendency for a user to always go to their timesheet on a specific day. On that day, Hey Deltek could suggest to the user “it is Wednesday, would you like to work on your timesheet”. These are simple concepts but powerful in the context of saving time and helping someone stay on top of the many things needing their attention.

Success Indicator

Project success is driven by a multitude of contributors and is measured by a variety of indicators. Each and every organization using one of Deltek’s ERP solutions has a wealth of information around contributors and indicators in their historical project data. As a result, Deltek is working on a mechanism that will employ machine learning to assign a score, at any point in its duration, to a project indicating its likelihood of success at that point in time. In addition, this mechanism would also include information on the factors contributing to that success indicator score so that it is clear what might need to be adjusted to get a project back on track. The machine learning component of this mechanism would be constantly analyzing past project data as more information is put into the system to refine the intelligence of the model. Over time, this model would become more and more intelligent and provide a key guide to ensuring project success throughout an organization.

In addition to the areas of focus and features and functionality mentioned here, Deltek is always exploring ways to innovate within our products to create value for our customers. Whether something already available within a Deltek solution like Hey Deltek, something on which we are currently working on delivering like ICR in our time and expense apps or something we are currently proving out like the project success indicator, purposeful innovation is alive and strong at Deltek. 

Join the #DeltekProjectNation

Want to learn more about these practical innovations or other Deltek solutions? Then join us in Orlando, Florida next month for Deltek Insight 2019. Registration is still open, so don’t miss out on the exciting keynotes, product sessions and networking opportunities at this year's event taking place from Nov. 18-21. Be sure to visit and register today!


About the Author

As Vice President of Product Management, Bret Tushaus is responsible for leading the product strategy, roadmap and product management teams for Deltek’s Vision, Maconomy, Ajera, People Planner, PIM, Workbook and TrafficLIVE. Prior to joining Deltek, Bret spent 15 years at Eppstein Uhen Architects and holds a Master of Architecture from the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee.

A frequent speaker at industry events, Bret has significant experience and expertise applying the benefits of software and technology to a wide range of project-focused businesses.