What Is A Chatbot?
Chatbots are primarily natural language text interfaces that are constructed using rules that encourage canned, linear-driven interactions. They are typically easy to build and navigated by pre-defined flows. For example, instead of clicking on a menu of choices or speaking predetermined commands, you can type or talk as if you were having a normal conversation in natural language.
The Rise Of Conversational AI
As chatbots failed to deliver on expectations, the enterprise market, in particular, has turned toward conversational AI platforms, especially in complex use cases such as banking, insurance, and telecommunications.
These platforms offer more than a natural language interface (NLI): they demonstrate true advancements in combining a variety of emerging technologies — everything from speech synthesis to natural language understanding (NLU) to cognitive and machine learning technologies — and are capable of replacing humans in a variety of tasks.
These new platforms are so sophisticated that Juniper Research projects advanced chatbots may cut business expenses by as much as $8 billion in the less than five years.
Companies that wish to avoid the chatbot trap should consider the following when assessing their AI strategy:
• Can it talk, text or chat? Conversational AI should be available on voice, text or Web, and it should be ubiquitous and seamless across channels. It can be available through Alexa, Google Assistant or even your company enterprise portal. Truly omnichannel interactions are the future, and they should be a priority for your business.
• Can it learn? A conversational AI solution should be able to use the abundant history available from existing enterprise interactions, including chat and voice transcripts, transactions and other preexisting corpora of enterprise data to learn. What’s more, you need AI that can converse, suggest, recommend and engage based on these learnings.
• Can it understand? Beyond chatbot capabilities, conversational AI should understand complex sentences of human speech in the same way humans do. Real human conversation is never straightforward — it is full of imperfections consisting of slang, multi-string words, abbreviations, fragments, mispronunciations and a host of other issues. Conversational AI is a form of technology that can be used to both navigate and comprehend these give-and-take interactions.
• Does it know? By integrating into your enterprise systems, conversational AI should know who you are. It can reference the previous transactions made by you and try to fix things. It can then use this history to make current interactions smoother, troubleshoot or solve issues in customer service, IT or invoice processing.
• Can it transact? Conversational AI is secure and can support sophisticated enterprise security considerations. It can be used to complete complex transactions, replacing humans beyond a mere shopping cart click. Examples of transactions that true conversational AI can manage include buying life insurance, processing a healthcare claim, troubleshooting Wi-Fi issues or approving a supplier invoice.
The Future Of Conversational AI Is Enterprise
Despite the bursting of the “consumer chat bubble” in 2017, technology is moving forward with great strides in the enterprise.
Intelligent conversational interfaces are the simplest way for businesses to interact with devices, services, customers, suppliers, and employees everywhere. There are lots of companies that provide AI-driven conversational platforms specifically focused on high impact use cases, including IBM’s Watson, etc.
Intelligent assistants built on these conversational AI platforms can be taught and continue to learn every day. Meaningful applications of conversational AI are already quietly up and running, and as cost benefits continue to pile up, the trend will accelerate in 2018.