Conversational AI (Part 1) – What Is It & Where Are We At Today? 

By Published On: March 12th, 2020Categories: conversational ai

“Conversational AI” is a term that has been gaining momentum in the context of chatbots and voice assistants over the past few years. But what does it mean exactly? What advantages does Conversational AI have for businesses and how can we make use of this technology?

In this article, we want to investigate these questions. We’ll look at current technological challenges but also on the promising future of AI-based automated dialogue systems.  


What is Conversational AI?

The term Conversational AI is not always used consistently, which results in quite a lot of misunderstandings. Conversational AI is a form of artificial intelligence that allows having automated, natural language-based dialogues with chatbots and voice assistants. Therefore, Conversational AI can be understood as an umbrella term that includes text-based as well as voice-based automated services, for instance chatbots and voice assistants.  

Successful Conversational AI is used when a person can ask a question – whether by text or voice – and within seconds, they receive a natural language-based response that delivers the information they wanted.


The basics: Speech recognition and knowledge modeling

Chatbots and voice assistants are only as good as the underlying knowledge they can access”, says Alexander Wahler, our CEO. It is important to understand that effective Conversational AI is based on two essential foundations: speech recognition and knowledge modeling. 

First of all, the linguistic input of the user must be recognized and understood, which is exactly what Natural Language Understanding (NLU) is for. It is about understanding the structure and meaning of human communication. 

Equally important, though less often considered, is knowledge processing and modeling. Only if the existing and through user inquiries generated knowledge in companies is specifically prepared/modeled, it can serve as input for natural language based answers. Core tasks are the “parameterization and modeling” of information. If the relevant parameters are then recognized in the dialogue, the Conversational AI can give the correct, natural language-based output via text or voice.

By the way, have you checked out our Ultimate Guide To Chatbots For Businesses yet?

chatbot guide

 Today’s use cases: Are bots replacing or supplementing human labor?

When managers and decision-makers talk about artificial intelligence, they often predict future use cases and potential applications. However, Conversational AI is already a reality and is used daily in many industries and companies. In fact, common use cases can be found in customer service as well as marketing and sales.

The widespread horror scenario that Conversational AI will replace employees turned out to be wrong, for now at least. Rather, chat and voice assistants provide valuable, welcome support to human agents.


Chatbots and voice assistants are a valuable asset for customer service representatives

Chatbots and voice assistants are most often used in customer service of medium-sized and large enterprises. Across industries, they can support B2B and B2C businesses that face a variety of service requests every day. In customer service, employees are freed from simple, repetitive customer inquiries, and personal productivity and motivation can increase. In the case of complex customer requests, the bot hands over to a customer service agent in real-time and no waiting times occur for the customer.

A particularly popular use case is IT help desk services. Large IT service providers in the B2B area are showing a keen interest in potential increases in efficiency and cost savings. Above all, these can be achieved on first and second level support, allowing connections to CRM and ticketing systems.

Learn more about chatbots in customer service here!


How marketing and sales benefit from Conversational AI

Even in marketing, companies can already benefit from the numerous advantages of AI-based, automated dialogue systems, as in e-commerce for example. For instance, Onlim has recently developed a customized chatbot based on the product catalogue of a B2B customer. The bot can automatically answer customer inquiries about product information and then redirects the user to the relevant page in the online store.

In the B2C field, information-based bots are also very common. In tourism, for example, they can offer support with current weather conditions, snow depths, opening and operating times and more.

Conversational AI also assists companies with sales and has proven to be able to be a valuable addition to the internal and external workforce. Providing useful information in online shops also has a sales-promoting effect. When connected to CRM systems, AI-based, automated dialogue systems can also respond to personal customer preferences and make appropriate suggestions.

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