What is Conversational AI?

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what is conversational ai

Simply stated, Conversational AI is a tool to enable machines, or more appropriately software applications, to interact with humans via language.  That language can be the spoken or written word.  Conversational AI must be able to work over any channel like a phone, chat, IM, email, social, etc.  Language differentiates humans from all other life on the planet.  Conversational AI is what allows us to use language to communicate with our machines or software applications and to automate and bring scale to the process of language recognition.  Prior to Conversational AI all communication was human to human, either in speech or the written word.  Now it can be human to machine and machine to human.  Ultimately, voice control and voice interaction will radically change how we engineer and design applications and even how we organize online content.

Conversational AI Tools and Digital Transformation

Conversational AI is a tool.  In subsequent blog posts we will dive deeper into all the tools used within Conversational AI.  For now, we will focus on “what is Conversational AI”.  The key take-away for this writer is that CAI is no different than any other tool humans have created in our evolution.  Conversational AI is one more type of software application utilized to automate and digitally transform functions in today’s businesses and organizations.  At Valenta we leverage all types of artificial intelligence to optimize the business of our clients.  Conversational AI, RPA and Cognitive AI are all leveraged to automate and digitally transform business.  Conversational AI should not be confused with RPA or Cognitive AI, they each bring their own capabilities to digital transformation.  Conversational AI is a subset of AI.  Conversational AI utilizes natural language processing NLP, neural networks and machine learning or deep learning to create applications for the interactions between humans and machines / software.  It is this human interaction element that is key to understanding Conversational AI and its role in assisting businesses.  Because of this human interaction element, and because of the language aspect, Conversational AI is most often found in B2C scenarios.

Natural Language Processing NLP & Deep Learning

One challenge for Conversational AI solutions and deployments is that there are many different ways that humans can make statements or express themselves.  There are also many different word choices humans can make in any statement or request.  Humans speak in a variety of languages and accents, and all of this must be considered.  Natural Language Processing NLP is leveraged by Conversational AI to address these challenges.  Much of this must be programmed, or preprogramed ahead of time, … a lot of it however is learned on the fly by the Conversational AI application using machine learning.  Another phrase that is often used when it comes to ML and Conversational AI is Deep Learning.  Deep learning is part of a broader family of machine learning methods that use artificial neural networks and representation learning.  Deep Learning allows Natural Language Processing NLP to adapt on the fly and improve over time. 

Conversational AI vs Chatbox

Conversational AI sometimes gets confused with Chatbots, AI Chatbots or Chatboxes, and this is unfortunate.  Conversational AI should be thought of more as an overarching suite of tools that can be used to build Chatbots.  As previously mentioned, Conversational AI is a multichannel tool, addressing the spoken or written word, that allows humans to interact with machines/software whenever or wherever they wish.  A chatbot is just one channel or place where a human and machine/software interaction or conversation occurs.

Conversational AI Platform

Earlier we mentioned different channels and mediums that need to be supported. We also need to think of all the different places that humans might want to leverage a Conversational AI Platform. Those places could entail using screens on a laptop, mobile devices or even in automobiles.  Conversational AI Platforms can be deployed by themselves, with a human in the loop, or as the first step prior to a human-to-human interaction.  Conversational AI Platforms are often utilized in customer engagements to gather relevant data or to route incoming calls, mails, or texts most appropriately.  Virtual agents in call centers, customer or client interaction applications, voice command applications like Alexa or Siri, and even hands-free control while driving are just a few examples of Conversational AI platforms.

Benefits of Conversational AI

Conversational AI can help businesses dynamically scale customer engagement processes through automation.  This can lead to enhanced user and employee experiences.  Conversational AI can reduce costs to serve customers and clients and maximize task processing efficiency.  It can also optimize resource allocation and augment and not replace human workers.  Human-in-the-loop Conversational AI scenarios allow bots and humans to seamlessly work together.  This allows the staff member to assign lower value tasks to a bot, while they manage higher value tasks.  Conversational AI can be leveraged to provide a digital virtual assistant or as a digital worker.  Every department in a 21st century business can benefit from Conversational AI, … especially if there is a B2C and heavy customer interaction aspect to them.  Departments like Finance & Accounting, Sales and Marketing, Human Resources, IT and Operations can all use Conversational AI.

Conversational AI Work

At Valenta we have a philosophy when it comes to Conversational AI of; “think big, start small and scale rapidly”.  We recommend that businesses start with a specific and well-defined use case with clear business outcomes.  Some of the best places to deploy conversational AI is where businesses can see an improvement in customer satisfaction.  Frequently there are many potential use cases ranging from IT helpdesk to HR to Finance, etc.  It is important not to overreach and lose track of results and ROI.  All of Valenta’s conversational AI engagements start with a focus on a specific project, a set of rules and skills, and an ROI target.  Please feel free to reach out if you would like to have a discussion to determine if Conversational AI is a good tool to leverage in your business.

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