As smart as today's conversational interfaces appear to be, when Alexa can't distinguish what the word "it" refers to in a sentence, how valuable is she really? Chatbots should be more than a party trick; and at this stage, many of their use cases leave much to be desired. But repairing their conversational shortcomings could create value where we never thought possible, and potentially be the engine that drives the IoT landscape forward. Machines don't understand context the way humans do, and solving this problem is the next step towards creating an interface that's truly conversational. Luckily, progress in machine learning and natural language processing is giving new meaning to "conversational" devices.
Google on Monday said that it's acquiring the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based startup API.AI, continuing its investment in machine learning technologies that enable natural language interfaces. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. "API.AI has a proven track record for helping developers design, build and continuously improve their conversational interfaces," Google vice president of engineering Scott Huffman wrote in a blog post. More than 60,000 developers are using API.AI to build conversational experiences for Slack, Facebook Messenger, Kik and other environments, he noted. API.AI also created Assistant, its own leading conversational assistant app with more than 20 million users.
We've started to see an experimental emergence of conversational interfaces (aka chatbots et al). Many of these early systems, with simple use cases, can be completely powered by computation and some of the more complex examples leverage people, who are augmented by automation tools. I had a fantastic experience booking a holiday through Lola Travel. The travel agents (real people!) behind the scenes were extremely helpful, using productivity tools to package and present options for me to review. Talking for hours on the phone was out of the question.
The age of conversational AI is here and it's completely redefining how organisations, employees and consumers are communicating with one another. Thanks to its ability to use natural language processing (NLP) to map spoken or written words to intent, conversational AI is no longer just a gimmick. Instead, conversational AI is making an impact across nearly every sector -- in our homes, cars, call centres, banks, online shops, and hospitals--and the use cases are growing. Combining complex NLP, cognitive learning abilities, autonomic task management, and emotional intelligence, conversational AIs can both learn from and respond to text or voice in an engaging, personalised and emotionally cognisant manner. The potential is immense and so it's unsurprising that recent research found that the global conversational AI market is expected to increase from $4.2 billion in 2019 to $15.7 billion by 2024.
Intended for executive leadership who are looking to better understand the implications of conversational business technologies, and need to decide where to focus time and investment in conversational interfaces. Gartner predicts that by 2019, virtual personal assistants "will have changed the way users interact with devices and become universally accepted as part of everyday life." For this report, Altimeter interviewed 24 enterprise companies, technology innovators, and other experts to gauge the potential risks and opportunities of conversational interfaces. We interviewed industry leaders to identify use cases, design principles, and strategic implications for customer experience, business models, brand strategy, and innovation. Our goal, and a focus of this report, is to help business leaders better understand the implications of conversational interfaces so they can make informed decisions about how to leverage this technology.