Will Conversational Interfaces Be Accepted in 2020?

The exponential growth of technologies such as AI, ML, and robotics has opened up the door to a number of exciting opportunities and applications. Automation has been redefined—it is not the same anymore. It has become a lot more “intelligent”.

Robots and computers are not merely performing routine physical tasks. Apart from their physical prowess, they are now quickly showing themselves to be capable of imitating cognitive capabilities, sensing emotion and making tacit judgments—a self-driving car is one such example.

One of the biggest AI applications that has generated a great deal of hype is CUI (conversational user interfaces). The combination of AI and linguistic understanding in NLP (natural language processing) builds up unique opportunities, which can improve customer experience and satisfaction to a significant extent.

What Is a CUI?

A CUI is an interface to which a user or customer can interact—talk or write—in a human language. The objective of a CUI is to recreate the same experience that you experience with an acquaintance or friend. For businesses, CUIs usually serve as the first level of support that responds to initial questions asked by the customer. However, they cannot fully provide the same level of support that a knowledgeable professional can do.

CUI Trends in 2020

Here is a brief overview of the trends that show how companies will take advantage of CUIs in 2020.

Solutions Having a Powerful Vertical Focus Are In Demand

CUIs are expected to remain relevant for a long time, but still stakeholders are looking for returns that are instantly realizable. Usually, conversational platforms enable organizations to run and maintain several chatbots at once. These are architectured and configured such that they hold the capacity for knowledge-base management, omni-channel deployments and dialogue routing for multi-pronged cases. The use of platform models can refine the data and NLP to maturity.

At the same time, companies are also recognizing the benefits of content accelerators in the form of vertical-specific usecase bots. These are facilitating managers to start up their chatbot implementations.

Developers are equipping inbuilt data in pre-packaged bots that are trained with the vocabulary and terminology of a specific industry. They are going to be used in finance, banking, HR, IT, healthcare, retail, supply chain, and other industries. For instance, a healthcare-based bot can answer questions related to the hospital’s facilities, doctor timings, and a basic overview of different diseases.

Gartner predicts that after two years, CUIs are expected to handle 30% of customer service experiences—in 2017, they only managed 3%.

Playing the Role of Agents of Execution

CUIs are serving as the representatives of a radical change as companies move away from GUI (graphical user interface). In case of GUIs, users were the operator of technology whereas CUIs own the responsibility to execute an action. It determines the intent of a user from their actions and goes ahead by executing accordingly.

Put simply, the user shifts the burden of intent translation to the computer. This is a progressive method of communicating with technologies. Currently, limitations exist due to text input, however slowly and gradually multimodality is being incorporated. At a certain point, the CUI ends up as a multimodal interface, acting as the dominant interaction model.

Conversational Collaboration

There is a wide range of conversational tools such as chatbots, virtual employee assistants (VEAs), virtual consumer assistants (VCAs), and virtual personal assistants (VPAs)—all of them vary in terms of request-response mechanism of interactions, integration models, and platform architecture. It is tricky for normal users, consumers, and business stakeholders to discern them from each other.

For instance, VPAs and chatbots such as Microsoft Cortana, Google Assistants, and Amazon Alexa come with separate capabilities. On a similar note, collaborative and communication platforms such as Skype, Microsoft Teams, Facebook Messenger, and Slack differ from each other.

In the next few years, it will be easy for users to navigate seamlessly from one agent to another. Chatbots can offer extension mechanism, enabling conversations to link to services beyond the standard capabilities to the platform providers.

AI Democratization Due to Low-Barrier

The rise of cloud frameworks, platforms, and services has made it more realistic to develop and integrate chatbots to multiple channels in a short period. This is the age of no-code or low-code platforms. What this means that is that non-technical users can easily create and improve a basic chatbot prototype, leveraging a web API. It is also quite convenient to connect it with Skype, Amazon Alexa, and Slack. Although these prototypes are not ready for commercial use, they do represent the low barrier in the CUI landscape.

Working with Augmented Reality

AI is also tapping into AR. Chatbots are working in unison with AR to redefine customer experience and engagement. Since AR is relatively new, the current crop of web and mobile apps cannot support it properly and fail to make the most out of it. However, a chatbot-based app carries the potential to turn the tables. Considering the user behavior and their stage in the sales funnel, bots can utilize AR to make them perform certain actions.

Future of CUIs

In 2018, the sale of smart speakers was estimated to be 33 million. By 2018, it rose to 50 million. The figure climbed to 146 million in 2019. All of this indicates that people around the globe are increasingly adopting CUIs to perform routine tasks such as checking the time, setting alarms, and reading the news.

Moreover, as the voice assistants become more flexible and adaptable at tackling complex queries and manage smart homes. The expanding sophistication of AI makes it possible to predict needs in a fresh and complex way.

With more and more devices penetrating homes and industries with CUI-based solutions, it is no surprise that CUIs will receive greater traction in 2020.

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