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Virtually Speaking

Will Your A.I. Strategy Outgrow Bots?

Posted by Rick Collins on Jul 19, 2016 12:39:02 PM


Advancements in artificial intelligence joined with the explosion of messaging apps are fueling the development of chatbots. By definition, chatbots are software programs that use messaging to carry out a number of tasks – order a pizza, check the weather, schedule a meeting, etc.

With their simple interface and promised ease of implementation, businesses are starting to invest heavily in bots to assist their digital strategy and alleviate poor customer experiences.

At Next IT, we think bots will undoubtedly play an important role for businesses in the coming years. They are a good opportunity to start understanding A.I. technology and how it can be leveraged through your organization. It’s important to think strategically of how your business can be transformed by intelligent systems, and we have found that people find our “More than One” rule helpful to determine whether a bot is enough or more intelligence is required.

More than one utterance:

Bots and messaging apps are call-and-response mechanisms. They receive a prompt and return a timely, mostly-uniform response. If and when your use cases begin to require a real conversation, meaning that the discussion naturally wants to continue with perhaps a clarification or a subsequent choice by the user, it’s time for more integrated solutions. Bots and messaging apps aren’t good at back-and-forth, and true contextual conversation, supported by domain expertise, requires a deeper commitment to AI development than generic NLP interactions.

 More than one step:

Bots and messaging apps don’t run a sophisticated underlying domain and language model that would allow them to execute complex tasks on a user’s behalf. Making travel arrangements is the most common example that people use, but from insurance qualification lookups to financial advice, customer service inquiries and more, bots need help when your business process has more than one destination or more than one acceptable outcome.

 More than one system:

Bots and messaging apps don’t necessarily have the smarts to compile information from more than one system of record. They run well on a single database or feed to which they are highly attuned. They don’t do well with different data structures and/or different web services, the combination of which inevitably throws them for a loop. For the enterprise, with many systems of record that their A.I. must call upon to achieve effective resolution and deliver the right information, a more integrated intelligent system will likely be needed.

 More than one domain:

Bots and messaging apps similarly fail when asked to cross domains. It is much easier to model a single vertical with a finite number of statistically prevalent commands than it is to teach a computer how to traverse multiple fields of knowledge. Bots and messaging apps are, for this reason, best used for single-serve, single-environment needs.

Beyond the Bot

If you’ve outgrown your bot solution and would  like to explore ways to enhance its capabilities – or if you’ve decided to bypass bots altogether and begin your conversational-interface implementation with a more advanced solution, we’re ready to put our innovative thinking and our years of experience with enterprise clients to work for you. Let’s chat!

Topics: Business