This article was originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of The Record. Subscribe for FREE here to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox.
An organisation’s digital presence is today perhaps the most important connection it has with its customers. While websites and apps are a given, the rise and evolution of popular messaging platforms such as Messenger, Skype and WhatsApp are setting new standards in business: consumers want to be able to connect and engage with companies simply by sending them a message – and they won’t settle for subpar solutions.
The rise of WeChat in China illustrates the point. The app now boasts more than one billion daily users and is a major part of doing business in the region.
At PopcornApps, we believe that, if they want to succeed, then large enterprises need to expand the use of messaging as a customer engagement tool. Doing this effectively requires some myth busting around the strengths and weaknesses of chatbots and conversational artificial intelligence (AI); tools that have a huge amount to offer in the right context.
For example, it’s often said that these tools are good only with simple, repetitive tasks. The reality, however, is that these tools can take on a complex process workflow and complete it with relative simplicity by employing natural language processing (NLP) and using the same integration as the website or mobile app.
It’s also widely claimed that chatbots are only good for structured dialogs, but enhancements in NLP, neural text-to-speech and machine learning will further accelerate the ability to handle complex customer queries.
Finally, many argue that chatbots cannot maintain context of the conversation, but this depends on how a chatbot is implemented and integrated into enterprise applications. Sign-on, authentication and session management can all be done through chatbots.
What’s clear to us is that voice is going to be the new widely adopted interface – we see a blurring of lines between chatbots and virtual assistants. Chatbots will become skills that can be made available to a virtual assistant.
This is where PopcornApps is already leading the way. Leveraging technologies including the Microsoft Bot Framework, Azure Machine Learning and Bing Cognitive Services, we are going beyond the mundane application of basic chatbots. We are delivering solutions that can handle complex queries, integrate with enterprise systems and provide rich NLP capabilities along with a visual layout that provides easy to consume information. We’ve already achieved huge success with firms operating in multiple industries including UK National Rail, several airline operators and the customer service functions of various enterprises. There’ll be many more success stories in the future.
Samvit Raina is founder and CEO at PopcornApps
PopcornApps will be attending Microsoft Inspire on 14-18 July. Find out more about the event.
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