Persistent change, challenged guesses, and constant disruption are some of the indicators that have become the new reality and will continue to accelerate and expand as we march into the future. One such technology that has persisted through the years is AI and will continue to cause a stir across sectors. As we can see, many businesses are looking forward to adopting this cutting-edge technology. However, most of them still wonder if AI will provide the expected boost to their businesses. AI has a lot of potentials and the benefits speculated are very encouraging.
Conversational AI: An Explainer
It goes all the way back to 2014 from an interview with Andrew Ng where he predicted that by 2020 more than half of the web-based searches will be replaced by non-text means, in the form of image or voice-based searches. While keyboard-based searches have not yet been replaced by non-text approaches, the voice market is witnessing a new inflection point with the rise and proliferation of Conversational AI. A technology that combines the potential of voice recognition and natural language processing (NLP) with the intelligence of interactive chatbots, Conversational AI promises to turn speculation into reality.
An array of new digital services are developing as organizations explore the new sector of voice-first interactive applications that have the ability to provide meaningful information and knowledge from interactions with users. A few months ago, Gartner named these interactive applications the top trend in commercial business and anticipated that by 2020, 70% of all organizations will have explored conversational interfaces with technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and 25% of organizations will have systems underway.
Voice Applications, much the same as mobile applications, will redefine the functionality of an ever-increasing number of voice-activated gadgets, for example, smart speakers. Moreover, there's a huge and deep market for voice applications — assessed to be more than 50,000 between the two primary platforms Amazon Alexa Skills Store and Google Actions.
Amazon ensures that 100 million gadgets have already been sold with Alexa and Google has asserted theirs to be more than 1 billion. In the more explicit and nascent marketplace of smart speakers, Amazon and Google seem to have jumped ahead from Apple and other significant players.
The Emergence of Voice Tech Companies
The rise of the human-computer interface has consistently been viewed as an impetus for enabling significant changes in the industry and create opportunities for business development in the tech segment. Each major new influx of tech advancement can be described by changes in the way we interact with computers.
The shift from text-only interfaces to more advanced personal computers was a key success factor for both Apple and Microsoft in their initial days. Besides, the iPhone’s distinct multi-touch mobile interface has differentiated Apple from other smartphone players and led it to become the most successful tech product ever developed.
Voice is a major aspect of an even greater and ongoing quest for more natural user interfaces (NUIs), since they involve voice, touch, gesture, and even thought. Voice technology is emerging from its nascent stages and with the combination of AI capabilities, it is giving rise to a new application—real-time “conversation”.
Conversational AI is a voice application that has gained meaningful traction among investors and organizations alike. Last year marked a milestone for all the major tech companies such as Apple, SAP, and Microsoft, with their acquisition of Conversational AI companies. In 2018, Microsoft acquired Semantic Machines, a provider of next-gen conversational AI technology, and SAP acquired Recast.AI that is currently providing the basis for the company’s conversational AI chatbot platform.
Recently, Drift released a report stating that the buying patterns of the consumers are changing. Individuals prefer interacting with the business in real-time while making purchases instead of communicating via email or other mediums. Businesses are striving more to adopt real-time conversations with the help of AI, so as to improve consumer interaction and engagement.
Technologies such as NLP and machine learning (ML) are providing a basis for the initiation of real-time conversations between interactive AI chatbots and consumers. This was not possible until a few years ago, where a person needed to be present all the time for carrying out a conversation in real-time with the customers.
The 2018 State of Chatbots Report—a collaboration between Drift, MyClever, SurveyMonkey Audience, and Salesforce—suggested that chatbots are better at responding to complex queries, quickly and in an efficient manner. An advantage of this technology is that conversations get better with more usage. After all, what is highly valued in this digital era is quick and efficient communication.
In today’s era, consumers like information to be available to them quickly at a single click. In case of unavailability of information, users can easily turn to the competitors and if successfully provide what the users are looking for, it can negatively impact your business. The most widely-recognized complaints include a slow-loading website, inadequate information with respect to the business details, contact details, etc. Another factor that makes users turn to competitors is when they can’t find answers to simple questions.
The Bottom Line
AI is at its peak and it would a real differentiator to the companies adopting conversational AIs. The reason is that most consumers are very much fascinated with voice-enabled computing. Computational AI, powered by technologies such as NLP, ML, and AI, can tear down computing barriers and will be the next transformational platform that companies can leverage.