From research projects to cutting-edge business propositions, chat bots built on the IBM Watson platform are bundling together a number of exciting innovations:
- The digitization of data into big data is providing the raw information required to power these programs.
- Machine learning algorithms such as natural language processing and deep neural networks have now matured enough to provide the tools and techniques to convert big data into actions.
- Open source communities are further accelerating the development of products & services through collaboration.
- Cloud computing and the availability of cheap hardware is providing access to the physical infrastructure required to run these information hungry programs.
- Finally, the mobile revolution is bringing all the above advances into the hands of everyone, everywhere.
Combine the above advances in technology with industry trends and chat bots are offering a unique proposition for organizations, especially when it comes to interacting with their customers. Chat bots have the ability to engage their customers in the right place, at the right time, with the right information in a cost-effective manner. Chat bots clearly have some advantages over traditional apps:
- They are capable of engaging with the end user in a natural, friendly and easy-to-understand manner
- Through open APIs or developer platforms, chat bots can interact with customers through apps the customers are familiar with, such as Facebook Messenger, thereby enhancing customer experience.
- They are more appealing to the next generation of users.
In some scenarios, they can even out-perform humans:
- Chat bots are likely to provide more comprehensive, up-to-date information as they have the capability to filter through a large search space at speed.
- Chat bots have the potential to provide a 24-7 service, and a downtime that is mostly scheduled.
- Finally, chat bots don’t suffer from human traits such as mood swings, tiredness, cigarette breaks etc.
While chat bots hold a lot of promise, there is still some way to go before they can completely replace humans. Currently, they are more likely to support human interactions by making them more efficient. Language is an extremely complex instrument and chat bots have yet to completely master the subtle nuances that exist in various languages. Detecting sarcasm, double-entendres and slang is still beyond the reach of most chat bots, although ongoing research holds promise.
Chat bots have already disrupted the way we interact within our organizations (see: Slack), with our customers (See: Facebook Messenger) and our homes (See: Alex/Google Home). It’s just a matter of time before chat bots impact every aspect of our daily lives.
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