Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last year you’ll be well aware of artificial intelligence (AI) and its manifestation as Chatbots. Chatbots are a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet. They are a synthesis of supercomputing, natural language processing, artificial intelligence and machine learning (think Siri and Messenger bots). They are an incredibly exciting revolution sitting at the intersection of technology, capability and demand. Business will be totally transformed for those that embrace them.
Like the advent of the World Wide Web before it, the potential for AI is pervasive and hugely impactful. But unlike AI, we weren’t ready for the Internet. Why? When Tim Berners-Lee invented the web, our cellphones were only simple analog devices; most of us used them for short-form messages or as telephones (now known as dumb phones). There was no pre-existing system that connected and informed us through images, video and messages. Over the years, technology has kind of grown up with us as we now expect high quality video rendering and ubiquitous speed. If we’d had the infrastructure 20 years ago, I don’t know if we’d have known what to do with it. Now, we do.
“Over time, the computer itself – whatever its form factor – will be an intelligent assistant helping you through your day. We will move from a mobile first to an AI first world”
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google
So why all this buzz on AI now?
It’s a combination of three things in my mind, and forgive me for keeping it simple as these are each book-worthy topics:
- Consumer readiness – to quote Queen; “I want it all, and I want it now” sums up how the modern consumer operates. We want immediate and accurate responses to our queries, constant uptime, and targeted advertising (ok maybe not). We also want simplicity and things to come to us. Apps are dying – 80% of North American smartphone users didnt download a single app in the last half of 2016, in our VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world we simply have too many things competing for our attention. Plus, we only deal with a human if we have to and because we’ve been told to. For most of us, having a machine to make the business of buying/selling easy is our strong preference.
- Supercomputing is now affordable for the masses. A combination of the dictum laid out in Moore’s law, internet and cloud computing technologies means that anyone can access huge computing power for a fraction of the imaginable price from only 5 years ago.
- Organisational squeeze. Regardless of their business, somewhere in most organisational strategies you’ll find one of two things, probably both; increase revenue and decrease the cost to serve. AI will enable smarter marketing, selling and market targeting. In addition, most businesses have squeezed the cost-rock completely dry. AI and bots will reduce reliance on humans for roles that always should have been done by machines.
What’s the answer to all this? Chatbots. Whilst they’re not new in and of themselves, due to the factors outlined, the world is ready so the interest and instances of them are. And they’re only going to increase.
Ambit builds bots for SMB and enterprise, both customer and internally facing. Our technology is unique as it builds on state-of-the-art, off-the-shelf technology, creating a blend of scripts and natural language processing, human intervention capability, and all-important structured data capture along with the ability to drive proactive (think sales) interactions.
By Josh Comrie, CEO of Ambit
Josh is the founder of 3 human capital companies that have had 2 successful exits. He is also an experienced angel investor with several exits. Check out his LinkedIn here.
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