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Will conversational AI talk about electric sheep too?

Posted by Ryan Connolly on Aug 12, 2020 12:00:00 AM
Will conversational AI talk about electric sheep too? - Business IT Sheffield

Please note: This post was written by Highlander prior to their rebrand to FluidOne Business IT - Sheffield.

When Phillip K. Dick wrote Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, later the story for the Blade Runner movie, he portrayed a world where AI embodied in androids was so good it could pass off as human. Clearly, we’ve got a long way to go till then (and hopefully a more positive outcome to our story!), but AI is gathering a pace in all areas of our lives from personal assistants to the movies we watch on Netflix. Conversational AI especially, is garnering real interest – and we’re not talking about chat bots you use to speak about your leccy!

We’re all switched-on, connected and living on digital platforms all of the time. As a result, we expect to be able to access a richness of information we need with a click, swipe or tap, and do it in just a few seconds. Furthermore, we don’t really like speaking to people. In fact, 79% of consumers prefer live chat, powered by a virtual assistant, as opposed to telephone as they get an instant response¹. And with Generation Z fast becoming the consumers of tomorrow, we can’t see this trend changing anytime soon.

COVID-19 with its stay at home measures has also driven yet more digital behaviour change amongst both colleagues and customers. People seek out digital interaction first and are increasingly seeing it as a better way to communicate.

So where does AI come into it?

Artificial intelligence (AI) is not a new concept but is now starting to come of age. From roots in automation of manual tasks (just think car production lines) new streams are beginning to make an impact in new ways. For many years, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) was the foundation of AI applications in business. With RPA, you can programme software applications to create bots that replicate and support the actions of humans. This allows you to automate simple tasks, streamlining business processes to reduce costs, and free up valuable resources.

RPA is largely about following pre-defined steps and while hugely useful in many areas, does not qualify as ‘intelligence’ where decisions are being made independent of the process. However, with Big Data, Machine Learning, and true AI capabilities, particularly with the development of conversational intelligence, the concept of RPA is being redefined with new skills to create some pretty extraordinary solutions that are going mainstream.

One such application is in the digital communication space, where businesses can now implement virtual assistants and virtual agents to support both online and verbal communications.

Genuine AI?

Although used interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between the capabilities of tools that power chat bots, virtual assistants and virtual agents. While all three can support a level of online interaction, it’s the ability to engage in human-like conversational interactions, as opposed to formulaic, rule-based responses, that is the key differentiator.

Virtual assistants and virtual agents deliver a level of intelligence that cannot be achieved with chatbots, solutions that are driven by rule-based data extrapolation as opposed to AI. Capable of managing multi-turn digital communications, virtual assistants and virtual agents use natural language processing to understand conversational intricacies, identifying emotional cues and preferences to present suitable, personalised responses.

This allows these platforms to be proactive, as well as reactive, making in-the-moment decisions based on a number of parameters to identify the correct response. This creates a richer, more human experience, with the flexibility to extend single interactions across multiple platforms.

Capturing the opportunities of conversational AI

By harnessing the capabilities of an AI-powered conversational platform, you can take simple, repetitive, mundane tasks away from members of your team and trust these to AI-based solutions.

This allows you to ensure a consistent and, in many cases an enhanced level of customer experience without overloading your existing resource. Processes can be automated with greater accuracy to improve business productivity. As a result, you can re-focus your team on other areas, prioritising new projects which may deliver greater business value without compromising customer engagement. This not only benefits the business but helps to improve job satisfaction and ultimately staff retention.

In short, conversational AI allows you to supercharge your teams by enabling machines and humans to seamlessly work together, building an army of intelligent virtual workers to supplement the existing knowledge, skills and capabilities of your team. You can deliver a 24/7/365 service, with the resiliency and scalability to support sudden spikes in demand, something many businesses have experienced throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Highlander, we strive to help our customers take advantage of the latest innovations wherever possible, identifying new opportunities and implementing cutting-edge technologies to deliver genuine business value.

With the help of industry-leading partners such as datatrainer and OneReach.ai, we can help you to embrace the latest innovations in data science, machine learning and AI, as well as implementing intuitive and powerful conversational AI solutions.

To learn more, get in touch with a member of our team.

¹ https://99firms.com/blog/live-chat-statistics/

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