Wolters Kluwer improves CCH AnswerConnect with Cortana

Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting has added new improvements to its CCH AnswerConnect tax research platform, including integration with Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistant technology.

The company originally introduced the tax research system last year but showcased the Cortana integration, along with other new features, at the company’s CCH Connections user conference in Miami Beach this week.

Wolters Kluwer developed a voice-enabled Tax Assistant leveraging the Cortana technology. Customers can use the Cortana voice assistant to verbally ask CCH AnswerConnect the answer to a federal tax question while continuing with their current work, such as filing a tax return or running a spreadsheet.

“Now they can actually just talk out loud and through Cortana we can provide them the same information, tied in with AnswerConnect,” Jason Marx, CEO of Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting, North America, told Accounting Today. “They don’t have to go separately. They don’t have to leave the screen. They can just talk to it and this brings them the answer.”

Jason Marx, CEO of Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting, North America, speaking at the CCH Connections user conference

Other new features allow customers to type in keyword searches within CCH AnswerConnect. In response, available CCH SmartCharts will show up at the top of the search results. The integration between CCH AnswerConnect and the larger CCH Axcess platform helps users find relevant tax information.

“Complex regulatory changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to state tax legislation, means professionals are experiencing an unprecedented volume of information to consume and review,” said Frans Klaassen, EVP and GM of Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting, North America, Research & Learning, in a statement. “Our enhancements to CCH AnswerConnect empower professionals to quickly and accurately conduct tax research with confidence.”

To speed up answers to queries, commonly asked tax questions have been organized to appear from the search box in AnswerConnect. The information is also highlighted at the top of the search results within a separate box. In addition, federal regulation archive and rulings have been added to the 360◦ View, which gives users the ability to click on related guidance and primary source information. Wolters Kluwer has also improved the printed and saved citations in topics and examples to enable users to see the references within the document when it’s viewed offline.

“We worked with the team to integrate voice recognition and natural language processing so you can use Cortana to ask questions directly of AnswerConnect without touching a keyboard,” said Jim McGinnis, EVP and GM at Wolters Kluwer Tax Accounting, North America, Medium and Large segment. “It just pops up. So the future is very natural interactions with the CCH Axcess platform, starting with CCH AnswerConnect, to get information when you need it, where you need it. It’s pretty cool.”

The system has already been programmed with responses to more than 2,000 tax questions. “We just keep populating more and more questions that it’s capable of answering,” said McGinnis.

Accounting Today asked Marx if there are any plans to expand the voice assistant support beyond Microsoft’s Cortana to other voice assistants such as Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. “If there’s a need for it,” he responded. “I think what we’ve done right now shows the integration of voice-activated search and responses there. If there are different response tools that people want, there’s no reason we can’t do that.”

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