One of the hottest topics in the tech world these days is conversational AI. How can a machine talk to or chat with a human in a relevant way, correctly addressing the content of the conversation? This is a hugely complex task but in the recent past technological breakthroughs have been achieved.
With these, new buzz words emerged, starting from the already familiar “chatbot” to the more holistic “virtual assistant”. In this blog, I am reviewing the key differences between the different technologies and the benefits they grant users.
What is a chatbot?
A chatbot is a text-based, programmed set of dialogues that can simulate a conversation with a user in natural language through messaging applications, websites, mobile apps, or phone calls. It uses an interface for the interaction with humans. More advanced chatbots can use a question-answer system, leveraging simple Natural Language Processing (NLP) to further emulate real conversations. They are often used to automate and streamline interactions between people and services to enhance the overall customer experience.
But as sophisticated as they might appear, a chatbot is programmed to deliver only scripted responses to pre-determined user inputs.
Despite this “shortcomings”, according to Forbes, the chatbot market is forecasted to reach $1.25 billion by 2025.
Benefits of chatbots
- Better customer engagement
- Cost savings
- Collect consumer data
- Effectively operate in global markets
What is a virtual assistant?
The role of virtual assistant and chatbots in the business world
In case you consider implementing a machine-based conversational tool, the choice between a chatbot and virtual assistant will depend on your objectives
For simple to medium complex conversations (i.e., more directing the user, with less choices on questions), a chatbot can be very useful. End users can interact with the chatbot via different messaging and social platforms, simulating a conversational experience to a certain extent. But ultimately chatbots are constrained by having to work off a limited script.
Virtual assistants can create a better user experience and deliver higher value to the end-users but require a deeper understanding of the related tech domain.
In the near future we will see the rise of virtual assistants who can truly serve the user over a wide range of tasks, like data localization and visualization, analytics, providing predictions and ultimately supporting decision-making by making recommendations based on data. Virtual assistants will enable organizational-wide performance improvements, by empowering employees to take better decisions through-out the day by providing the right knowledge, anytime, anywhere.