Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Thursday, February 29, 2024

AI-Driven ‘Digital Employees’ Will Replace Recently Embraced Chatbots 

Customer service chatbots have quickly gained widespread adoption in the retail industry. But leading brands already are evaluating alternative, next-gen customer service technologies – namely, AI and cognitive computing – primed to eclipse chatbots, which simply can’t compete with technologies that provide human-like customer service and can learn and improve autonomously over time.

According to Gartner, self-learning automation solutions will as a top five investment priority by 2020 for more than 30 percent of CIO’s. Why? Because self-learning automation tools are game changing. So why are chatbots destined for early retirement when so many companies embraced the technology only a short while ago?

Three reasons rise to the top:

First, they are limited to linear paths in which dialogue and interface is programmable and predictable. That is, they don’t align well with natural language flow, the way humans interact.

Second, the rise of data-driven applications enables newer platforms to deliver more intimate and relatable interactions, resulting in more meaningful communication and fulfillment rates.

Third, companies are architecting digital-first strategies central to transforming their business to align with the demands of consumers and business users. Companies constantly seek best-of-breed solutions that deliver competitive advantage via scalability, reliability and the best customer experience possible.

For these reasons, we will start to see chatbots phased out of the mainstream, replaced by “digital employees,” AI-driven technology that emulates human-to-human customer service interaction.

Where Chatbots Fall Short

Engagement has proven to be a major challenge for chatbots. Research from BotAnalytics shows that about 40 percent of people don’t get past the first message and an additional 25 percent don’t get past the second message.

Compared to solutions that engage users through a web-based user interface, chatbots also take more time to accomplish the same tasks. Additionally, as mentioned, chatbots aren’t intelligent, they don’t allow a natural conversation with the consumer, nor do they learn from previous conversations to fine-tune future interactions. Chatbots can’t express empathy. They can’t make decisions or understand context when interacting with users.

 AI Outpaces Chatbots

Leading global companies increasingly are testing digital employee technologies. Among the benefits AI technologies bring to retail customer service is seamless omnichannel support that can communicate with customers by voice, apps, chat and across devices.

At IPsoft’s recent Digital Workforce Summit, more than 400 of the best minds in cognitive technology gathered to discuss the future of the digital workforce.

Matt Tomilson, global director of innovation at Electronic Arts, underscored the value of sentiment and emotion, along with underlying business logic, in a non-linear process. He emphasized the initial human utterances are just the start of the conversation and that natural language generation and the ability to sound as human as possible are critical to the best customer experience. He also compared digital employee technology to chatbots, emphasizing the former’s ability to express empathy, understand context – combined with limitless data sources and the ability to learn in real time.

Embracing Digital Employees

As AI technologies and techniques evolve, digital employees will develop stronger and more sophisticated performance, increasingly mastering multiple engagements in real-time. Gone are the days of when machines were limited to basic tasks. Now, a core part of business, machines give companies the ability to compete across a variety of IT functions and business operations.

Chetan Dube is president and CEO of IPsoft.