We are entering the era of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and conversational interfaces. Bots and AI personal assistants, such as Amazon Alexa, are currently taking the world by storm. But are these just hype or something more pervasive, that will transform the digital experience for everyone?
To understand the influence these new technologies could have, let’s just think about the way we communicate with our family and friends. Do we have to insert a PIN or a password to speak with them? Do we have to navigate a menu to be able to engage in a conversation? The answer is, of course, we don’t. We interact in a very simple way – we just talk! Language is a universal, natural and intuitive skill that everybody has, and we use it every day. That’s the power of natural language either spoken or written and thanks to AI advances, we can.
The rise of voice enabled devices
As technology evolves, and AI in particular, Conversational Intelligent Platforms (CIPs) will increasingly become part of our lives, creating truly seamless Digital Experiences. The benefits of CIPs are that they allow for a more intuitive and seamless interaction with technology through our own natural language. CIPs use natural language channels – through both voice and written language. As technology becomes ubiquitous it seems obvious that machines will learn to mimic how we already interact with each other as humans, to provide a better experience for consumers to interact with tech.
Investment in CIPs
In the last few years there have been incredible developments in Artificial Intelligence, driven by major players in the tech space such as Google and Facebook, with billions being poured in by Venture Capitalists and industry key players, which have enabled CIPs to become more prevalent.
These CIPs have experienced huge leaps in progress; machine learning has increased to the extent that machines are now powerful enough to understand real human language, and can give appropriate responses, paving the way for mass adoption in every part of our lives – from retail to healthcare to banking. For instance, H&M’s Kik chatbot offers shoppers a taste of a personal stylist service.
Siri, Google Now, Google api.ai, IBM Watson, Microsoft Cortana and Amazon Alexa are a few high-profile examples of CIPs which have gained traction and real use amongst consumers. In fact, although not perfect, the quality levels of some CIPs are now high enough for practical uses. These use cases are numerous with a significant impact on industries including fintech, payments, connected living, health, e-commerce and e-government. For example, tools such as Cleo provide intelligent insights on financials by asking questions through Facebook Messenger.
Towards a Digital Journey as an Experience (DJaaE)
CIPs fundamentally have the capability to change the current concept of a digital journey, evolving it into a Digital Journey as an Experience (DjaaE), by offering a more intuitive, frictionless and inclusive user interface. This new Digital Journey as an Experience (DjaaE), is by design an omnichannel experience, and is able to interact with the user at any moment and any place, using the most appropriate channel and always in the most engaging way. This requires being able to know the user’s habits and preferences across various digital and cognitive channels.
To illustrate the point, let’s use the example of a travel journey, where a personal travel advisor, knows the user’s travel preferences, their habits, calendar, etc. At home the user can talk with its personal assistant (e.g. Alexa) and get travel advice, book the travel, and get weather and traffic alerts. On the road the bot, will advise the user regarding the airplane and train status and will advise on parking options. When arriving at the airport the bot, will have the ability to conduct check-in automatically and will display the ticket when relevant. In the shopping area, the bot would be able to guide the user to their favourite shops.
The above example, illustrates a set of key aspects of the DjaaE. Namely that:
- Each channel has a specific and complementary role in the user’s life. They don’t all do the same thing but they complement each other to build an experience which is in itself end-to-end
- Each channel needs to be aware of the physical and logical space and provide the best and most relevant response to each individual situation and environment
- There is a need to incorporate a cognitive layer into the enterprise architecture, common and shared across all channels and capable of understand the user’s behaviour and habits.
The importance of DJaaE and designing enterprise cognitive architecture
Thinking in terms of DJaaE will have a significant impact on any digital transformation. We expect it to have an impact on a wide range of industries including retail, e-commerce, hospitality and travel. It also has the potential to redefine how citizens interact with government services, including health services, whereby professionals can interact with people at any time, building a trusted, engaging digital experience.
Of course, every organization will need to design and implement their own cognitive enterprise architecture, in which, cognitive channels, deep learning and predictive analytics will have a central and active role, in knowing the user and building the Digital Journey as an Experience.
We will be looking at the impact of CIPs in the digital transformation space and discussing the need for organizations to develop a ‘corporate cognitive architecture’ in a second blog. We’ll also be exploring the impact of CIPs on consumer and brand engagement, and what the opportunities and challenges are for businesses looking to take advantage of these emerging technologies.