Artificial Intelligence has become a pervasive word and reality in today’s world. Conversations about automation, machine intelligence and the future of jobs has become the new normal. As we approach these unchartered waters, experts such as Dwayne DeSylvia help us understand the depth, impact and future of automation, specifically regarding Conversational AI and the ever-growing rise and popularity of chatbots.
Dwayne is an MMC instructor, and his most recent course provides a fascinating overview of chatbots: common use cases and terms, the stages of bot development, and how to use bot elements such as intents and skills. In fact, by the end of his course students are able to actually create a chatbot using SAP Conversational AI. I personally took his course and strongly recommend it. Whether your role is in business, IT/development or you just have a personal interest in the subject, I promise you will not be disappointed. AI is our inevitable future, so why not strap in and prepare yourself for the ride!
Check out my short interview with Dwayne regarding an overview of Conversational AI, what the future holds, and most importantly, how to prepare for the inevitable automation.
As Dwayne outlines in his course, messaging platforms are the new OS. Since 2014, the global market for smart machines has been growing at a CAGR of 19.7% and will reach $41.22 bn in 2024. Simply put, people prefer texting and chatting type applications as their primary means of communicating. Out with the old and in with the efficient and instantaneous.
I can confidently say that almost everyone who is reading this article is guilty of preferring a quick text message to picking up the phone, or chatting with an online agent instead of sitting on the phone for 20+ minutes. We expect answers immediately and the market is adapting with that trend. Consequently, corporations are seeing a large increase in the number of requests to interface with their companies and system through chat mechanisms.
As Dwayne so eloquently puts it, conversation is at the core of this revolution. His course starts off with outlining the statistics of Conversational AI’s steady rise. He states that by 2020, robots will handle over 85% of client-company interactions, 67% of people expect to see/use conversational interfaces when talking to a business, and 67% of consumers worldwide used a conversational interface for customer support in the past year. And as a result, businesses are focusing on being conversational. In our interview Dwayne states that he expects the number of chatbots that handle client-company interactions to be even higher than 85%.
Dwayne stresses that businesses that do not offer chatbots are quickly falling behind. Fast, instant, easy interactions are no longer a bonus offered by businesses, but rather an expectation. Dwayne’s course highlights that millennials are absolutely behind this trend. In fact, 86% of millennials think brands should use bots for promotion and service. As a millennial, I can admit that I am guilty of this. If I can’t chat with a customer service rep on my phone at any time of the day, I get frustrated. I’m not saying this impatience is necessarily a good thing, but my fellow millennials and I are shaking up what customer service looks like.
What exactly do these statistics mean? Simply put, chatbots will end up powering majority of customer service interactions. As Dwayne explains in our interview, chatbots have already become the new normal.
Chatbots can chat with multiple customers at one time, thus bringing a heightened level of efficiency and ultimately reducing costs. Chatbots are also available 24/7, in any country/language, and on may channels such as web, apps and messenger. As discussed previously, I much prefer to chat with an agent on my phone and on the go. Chatbots allow for an unprecedented level of availability.
In our interview, Dwayne also discussed how Conversational AI is becoming predictive, expanding its capabilities and utilizing machine learning. For example, chatbots are being programmed to predict what you’re going to say and preemptively answer and provide an extended set of resources to the consumer before they’ve even asked the question. This is only a glimpse into the future capabilities of Conversational AI.
Dwayne stresses that while this level of automation is unmatched, we have always been trying to automate low-value repetitive tasks. He was very thoughtful and perceptive in tackling the question, ‘what does the future of Conversational AI mean for jobs’? The word automation carries a lot of questions: is the company trying to cut costs, are humans being cut out, is my job at risk?
Dwayne did note that he encouraged his son to choose a career that cannot be automated, and instead, strive for a role where he would be selling the automation. However, for individuals who are currently in roles at risk of automation, Dwayne has an optimistic outlook and great advice.
In Dwayne’s opinion, automation provides opportunity, if one is willing to go that route. Lots of roles involve repetitive responses to common queries. He encourages employees and students to focus on a higher value set of tasks. For example, instead of being a chat agent, one could become a chatbot expert and help companies/organizations understand customer psychology. Namely, the cadence of customer conversations, or how to conversationally architect and construct a bot to provide optimal customer experiences. Humans provide great insight for the success of chatbots.
He suggests that everyone should take an honest assessment of their role and look at how and where automation will affect it. He is very honest with the fact that it is going to happen in one-way, shape, or form, but we should be looking at improving value for customers and business partners rather than questioning if our jobs are at risk. He implores us to focus on higher value tasks instead of repetitive and menial things that frustrate us all.
Looking at the future of jobs starts with understanding the technology, looking at what current technology is doing and how it can impact you. Michael Management courses are a great starting point for that kind of research. For example, Dwayne and colleague Jon Yagos are planning on releasing a course surrounding Robotic Process Automation in the near future that will shed even more light on automation technology.
Start by creating a bot in Dwayne’s course to make it feel real and tangible. In addition, you can visit SAP’s Conversationial AI website for those who are interested in diving a bit deeper.
As a final piece of advice, Dwayne encourages students and employees to tie this technology back to their role. Do you want to develop bots? Do you want to become a content expert? There are so many ways to be involved in next gen technologies, helping to make them the best they can be. Dwayne suggests asking the question, ‘how can this be even better’ and stepping out of your role a bit' in order to excel.
If you need a helping hand, Dwayne’s Conversational AI course is here to help!
**Disclaimer: all statistics stated in this article are directly from Dwayne's MMC Course (ICO193)