2019 predictions for Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots
Hardly a week now passes without major announcements on Artificial Intelligence. The technology has held a presence everywhere and thousands of predictions for AI in 2018 did not exhaust the subject, so we’ve drawn on the expertise of Enghouse Interactive’s Chief Technology Officer, Alex Black and GCI’s Product Manager, Andy Leatherland for 6 more predictions around what 2019 has in store for AI and chatbots.
8 January 2019
Alex has a slightly different opinion on the use of Artificial Intelligence and Chatbots from a customer experience perspective, which you can hear more about in this video. But for now, let’s get his opinions on what 2019 has in-store for AI and Chatbots.
Chatbots will mature
In 2018 the world seemed to go chatbot crazy, but I believe that 2019 will see chatbots become much more focused, less complex to implement and therefore much better value for money. For example, we will see off-the-shelf bots being offered to automate very specific tasks, such as password changes. In this vein, industry specialists will develop bots specific to and for their vertical. For example, our partner GCI has a strength in the Housing market, and this could be an area in which they will offer specific solutions that are much more approachable and relevant to a Housing Association’s processes than a generic one would be.
Internal use of chatbots will exceed external use
Whilst there is no doubt that chatbots are going to find a home in interacting directly with customers, I believe that we will see them become much more widely used internally in the Contact Centre, rather than externally. In this instance, they will be used to support the agent during an interaction so that they will have the right information at their fingertips during a live chat. I believe that this will later evolve to include real-time monitoring of a voice call with the bot automatically capturing the essence of the conversation and using this to proactively prompt the agent with relevant information in real time, enabling them to deal their customer in the most efficient manner.
2019 will also see this type of bot implementation used to assist the next generation of younger agents coming into the industry. Known to many as “Generation Z”, these post-Millennials are a tech-savvy bunch who have grown up in a world of smartphones and instant access to information. As such, they retain less information because they rarely need to, making a bot the perfect gateway to delivering them the relevant information as and when they need it.
Smart Assistants will become a front end to chat services
Amazon have done an excellent job over the last year or two in developing Alexa and the ecosystem around “her”. We have seen many companies develop skills for Alexa, and I believe that we will see Alexa being used as a front-end to many chatbot services in 2019 and beyond. In many ways, this is similar to what Google demonstrated at their I/O conference last year. However, I think this is a much more realistic implementation of the technology than the advanced use case that Google demonstrated.
To summarise, I believe that we will start to see AI technology become more mainstream in 2019 in the interaction space, but it will be in a much more practical and focused way. I don't believe that we will see bots replace live agents any more than they were replaced with IVR; they will just be moved across to handle interactions that require more intuition and empathy. The same will happen with AI and bots.
Next up, Andy Leatherland offers his predictions for AI and chatbots.
AI to invade Social Media
For me, 2019 will be the year that AI invades social media platforms, increasing the expectation of a rapid response to bad or good press within these channels. Currently, Artificial Intelligence in social networks is primarily used as an efficient way to sort through large clusters of user-generated information through social listening and deep learning, helping brands establish patterns in large data sets and gain a better understanding of their audience and what makes them tick.
For social media, this means AI can help with anything from personalised product suggestions based on previous engagements, to image and voice recognition, to deep sentiment analysis. From a customer’s perspective, you’ll see an increase in people using these platforms to get a reaction or answer from a company no matter the reason, driving a greater need for true omni-channel support that is transparent across the board.
More flexibility will be vital to properly support AI
As AI’s usability increases in 2019 software providers will have to be more flexible in their support of different AI platforms, as a “one size fits all” philosophy will prove impractical. The vision and roadmap need to become clearer before businesses can fully adopt the technology - including the decision on AI’s true workforce impact - addressing the call for all companies to focus on responsible AI, and emerging threats around cybersecurity, which will only become more prevalent as time goes on. Furthermore, many of the tools will be based in the Cloud, so a technology provider or software house will absolutely need to offer a plug-and-play capability in 2019.
The battle of the AI engines will really heat up
Microsoft with cognitive services, Amazon with digital assistant (Alexa), IBM Watson and Google TensorFlow; the big four have all embraced AI as the next best thing, integrating it into an array of services and solutions. Equally, all the big players offer a range of APIs in cost-effective packages, enabling developers to design, test and deploy in Cloud-based environments. The potential is certainly visible now, with intelligent assistants that allow you to schedule meetings, access corporate applications and join conference calls through your own voice, but we are yet to see an all-encompassing offering. 2019 may well break this ground.
Furthermore, all these offerings come with different levels of functionality within their core solution platforms, and with developers now looking at toolkit availability to deliver what they need, the battle will only intensify and get more complex in 2019.
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