Following the smartphone boom ten years ago and the scramble of businesses to adapt, 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch quietly proposed something insightful: “Connectivity does not simply mean that you have more opportunities to deliver messages about customer service and pricing plans. This isn’t a one-sided argument. It allows people to respond.”
Murdoch wasn’t so much foresighted as he was acutely aware of the digital landscape, but few had articulated the new mobile user dynamic as candidly as Murdoch. In some ways, this perspective on mobile connectivity foreshadowed the future of digital development—ever-faster, ever-smarter mobile applications that assume, rather than avoid, user relationships.
The obvious question is how this works. Many people find the idea of an app having a relationship with a user absurd, but with artificial intelligence constantly improving, we’re already in that liminal space where we can’t tell humans from bots. The next big thing that will usher in nuanced, human-like relationships? Conversational artificial intelligence.
According to IBM’s Watson brainchild, “[conversational AI] is technology (such as chatbots or voice assistants) that users can talk to… and imitate human interactions, recognizing speech and text inputs.” There are a variety of definitions for this ever-changing technology available online, the majority of which are based on the “human-like” conversational AI allows. Other purposes, many of which are too vague to be of much use, extol the “real” conversations that are the ultimate goal of the AI.
So, what exactly is a conversational AI? Let’s define it.
What Is Conversational AI?
Conversational AI refers to the technologies underlying automated messaging and speech-enabled applications that enable computers and humans to interact in human-like ways.
Conversational AI can communicate like a human by recognizing speech and text, understanding intent, deciphering different languages, and responding in a human-like manner.
Applied Conversational AI requires both science and art to create successful applications that incorporate context, personalization, and relevance within human-computer interaction. Conversational design, a discipline dedicated to creating natural-sounding flows, is essential to developing Conversational AI applications.
Though chatbots have gained popularity (and a bad reputation), conversational AI solutions can be delivered via text and voice modalities, as well as the various channels and devices that support these modalities – from SMS and web chat for text to phone calls and smart speakers for voice.
The best Conversational AI delivers results that are indistinguishable from those delivered by a human. Consider the last time you communicated with a business and realized you could have completed the same tasks with the same, if not less, effort than you could have with a human. That is Conversational AI at its finest.
Is Conversational AI The Future For Mobile Apps?
The answer would be “Yes” you wouldn’t be surprised if I told you that mobile apps consume most of our attention. Apps account for 90% of mobile internet time, according to eMarketer. While most of us have 10 or more apps on our phones, the ones that get the most attention are those that allow for the most engagement: chat, gaming, and shopping apps.
The most important statistic from eMarketer is that 50% of mobile app time is spent in social/communications apps—the ones we use to build and maintain relationships.
So, what are the recurring themes here? Clearly, we enjoy engagement—not just apps that allow us to take action, but action that requires an immediate response, i.e., conversation. When we click on the latest gadget in our Amazon app, which is frequently chosen based on our browsing habits, we are immediately prompted to buy it and given personalized follow-up options. And when we share a photo with our hundreds of Instagram followers, we expect likes and comments within minutes. In our favorite mobile game, the monster fights back when we attack a monster.
We want two-way interaction, personalization, relationships, convenience, and speed, and current mobile app usage statistics support this.
To Sum Up
Conversational AI solutions are used in many use cases and industries, including customer service, appointment scheduling, medical symptom triage, account registration, and more.
Conversational AI is becoming increasingly popular as users prefer to communicate through digital channels. Many businesses like ONPASSIVE create chatbots, voice assistants, and interactive voice response (IVR) experiences to increase customer satisfaction, reduce operational costs, and achieve business objectives.