MSP, AI/ML

Octavia AI Service Desk Tool’s Secret Weapon: Human Writers

Another AI service desk tool for managed service providers (MSPs) is getting ready to hit the scene and was released in beta last week. ChannelE2E first covered the release last week, but we followed up to get some more detail on how it works and how it helps MSPs.

Octavia by Nine Minds comes in the form of a browser extension for Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge. (You can sign up for the beta waiting list at the company's site Nine Minds.)

“We want to use AI and AI models to take the burden off tech support workers,” Robert Isaacs, founder and CEO of Nine Minds, told ChannelE2E. “They are under tremendous pressure. They have to know everything about everything. MSP customers are not all standardized on one set of technology like they are with internal IT. These technicians have to know everything and then have too many tickets.”

Isaacs said that 13% of the tickets cost 80% of the time, so that one ticket can take up a technician’s whole day. The Octavia AI-powered tool frees up time by assisting technicians in the following ways:

  • Summarizing tickets so that technicians can see a synopsis of the ticket at a glance
  • Offering advice to technicians and engineers on how to move forward with the ticket, whatever stage it is at, by providing next steps
  • Providing automatic responses to customers based on the content of the ticket
  • Categorizing and titling tickets

Octavia’s AI model is pre-trained with all the ticket scenarios typically encountered by managed service providers. It does not use any of an MSPs own data for training.

Rather, it can look at an MSP’s historical ticket data going back to the beginning and suggest improved approaches to any of the scenarios it recognizes. But all the MSPs data stays at rest with the MSP. The MSP data is not used to train Octavia’s models.

Octavia and Nine Minds: The Origin Story

Octavia by Nine Minds is making its debut right now just a year after the company formally launched itself. The company is funded by Bellini Capital, an investment firm in Tampa, Florida. The managing director is Arnie Bellini, the founder and former CEO of ConnectWise. Robert Isaacs is also a ConnectWise alum. He served as chief software architect for the MSP platform company from August 2000 to July 2016 when he decided he wanted to pursue an entrepreneurial path himself.

But Isaacs founded a different company in 2016 – Speed of Light Media. The company provides Simplify Cloud and Simplify Cloud Lab to help technology companies scale their software testing efforts, simplify sales demonstrations, and provide effective training environments, according to the company’s LinkedIn profile.

Speed of Light Media operates its own hardware in leased space at data centers around the world. Because of that it has its own GPUs for AI workloads, which is how Isaacs was able to launch Nine Minds and Octavia.

Isaacs told ChannelE2E that he got the idea for the offering in August 2022 before ChatGPT hit the scene and caused a frenzy of activity around generative AI. 

Differentiating AI with Humans

One big differentiator for Octavia and Nine Minds is that it has hired humans as writers at a time when many companies are looking to ChatGPT to take on all the writing tasks.

“We have a whole team of writers,” Isaacs told ChannelE2E. The writers take historical tickets and write responses to them. Those human-written responses, created to be the most helpful and and polite and friendly, are then used to train the model. Isaacs said that the model turns out better if it’s fed more variety and higher quality responses.

“They are basically idealized tickets,” Isaacs said. “You are teaching the model how to make these very idealized responses. The models never get frustrated. They never get bored. They never get tired or angry. So our goal is to figure out what the best response is to these tickets that we have and train the model on that.”

Other AI Service Desk Tools

Octavia is the most recent of a few AI and automation service desk tools purpose-built for MSPs that ChannelE2E has covered since the beginning of 2023. Another one is Pia out of Australia. Another one is NeoAgent. We also know that ConnectWise and other MSP platform companies have been working on their own AI-powered augmentations in their platforms this year. ConnectWise in particular was looking at AI to create Power Shell scripts and in April added AI-powered scripting to its Asio platform.

In addition, plenty of tech giants have made AI part of their roadmaps for 2023 and beyond, most recently, VMware. Analyst firm Canalys also recently provided a perspective of the opportunities in the channel for generative AI.

ChannelE2E will continue to track AI and generative AI developments and opportunities for MSPs, MSSPs and the rest of the IT channel. Have you heard of any others? Let me know. You can reach me at [email protected]. I’m also interested if your MSP is using any of these or other AI tools yet.

Jessica C. Davis

Jessica C. Davis is editorial director of CyberRisk Alliance’s channel brands, MSSP Alert, MSSP Alert Live, and ChannelE2E. She has spent a career as a journalist and editor covering the intersection of business and technology including chips, software, the cloud, AI, and cybersecurity. She previously served as editor in chief of Channel Insider and later of MSP Mentor where she was one of the original editors running the MSP 501.