Interact at Chatbot Summit
Integrating Automation and Machine Learning with Human Industry
We can’t deny the strong presence of online bots these days, and there’s room for enterprise-level companies using bots to emerge – but rather than perceiving them as intrusive automated marketing tools, we’ve recognised their huge potential for more efficient workflows on several levels. AI is the fastest-growing tech skill and the second fastest-growing overall skill. It’s continually shaping our world and industries, so companies like Interact must assess where automation fits in our business strategies, and how to develop the necessary skills to make the most of it.
This year’s second International ChatBot Summit in Berlin was important for Interact because we see how bots are a technology to understand rather than oppose. Striving to lead by understanding automation and machine learning, we can create improved efficiencies for our clients that will contribute to business growth rather than trigger the negative impacts and declines that concern many outsourcers.
Held from June 26-28, this year’s Summit was a global event for techies to collaborate, educate and influence at, showcasing the work of leading personalities in machine learning. Founder Yoav Barel – a Tel Aviv-based tech entrepreneur – saw the potential for educating the wider market about intelligent automation following the success of 2016’s inaugural “Bot Head” meeting for tech and entrepreneurial leaders in the industry.
Who’s it for?
Fast-paced with a start-up feel, the ChatBot Summit is for big brands, entrepreneurs, developers, and freelancers alike. Chatbot Enthusiasts gather to talk about, explore and sell services and strategies to secure a place in the Bot Revolution. Nearly 100 speakers presented across three stages at the event, sponsored by names like Deutsche Bank, LivePerson, SAP, Deloitte and Amazon Alexa. A fourth area was devoted to an Amazon Alexa Workshop.
ChatBot Boulevard was where startups could reserve booths to demo their work, with a pre-networking event the night before kickoff to help build their ChatBot Economies. The event itself offered numerous opportunities for formal and informal networking – including an after-party. Alongside these obvious opportunities, the Summit gave us the chance to learn where the tech are headed and ask important questions about its place in our enterprise.
Why we went, what we learned
To provide a background for why we attended the Summit and a working example of the potential of automation, Interact were invited by our client, LivePerson – one of the event’s main sponsors. In partnership with IBM Cloud, they are developing Watson, a new machine learning business platform that harvests, arranges and interprets all the data that affects how companies and employees work – information that directly impacts input and output.
Watson has broad potential, with applications in fashion (Marchesa + Watson), personalised parties (Daybreaker + Watson), healthcare (Quest Diagnostics + Watson) and entertainment (Alex Da Kid + Watson make music that listens to the audience).
Bots are increasingly being employed for back-office purposes, transforming regulated processes like accounting and law, as `well as simpler administrative tasks. A bot ‘revolution’ is inevitable, so organisations and individuals must be able to adapt to how automation will reshape business.
On the front line, companies aren’t yet fully confident to release bots into their customer service propositions – they’re interested in reducing costs through automation but as customer experience is the priority, feel there is work to be done refining this approach before applying it. In many cases, samples are carried out to test and ‘educate’ bots before they’re put into real situations.
As we said, automation can be an enhancer how we serve our clients – not a way to simply streamline our workforce. A large part of Interact’s business is the efficient, personal touch of our sizeable web chat team – something we call ‘Sales through Service’. Using chatbots could reduce the size of this team, but the benefits are strong. For starters, dedicating more mundane, repetitive tasks to bots frees up room for reward as our agents can devote their attention to the rewarding challenge of varied, changeable customer interactions. Greater job satisfaction will ultimately reduce attrition rates and motivate employees to work to their potential.
Where to now?
We’ve already implemented a back-office bot with LivePerson called Get Jenny , an automated multilingual conversational engine. It’s easily integrated and lets our clients deliver an improved customer service proposition. Jenny is intended to help agents focus on more meaningful customer service – essential for complex enquiries and developing sales leads. The intention is to improve response times and case resolution rates and in a marketplace where customers look for 24/7 answers, it’s the kind of platform that makes this level of service possible.
For a service-driven company like Interact, it’s important to consider a UX design that’s appropriate for multi-faceted human interactions. Conversational design was central to several ChatBot Summit panels and discussions: how long or detailed should messages be? What tone of voice is right? How should an interface work and look?
These are questions with obvious importance to Interact and how we want to handle customers. Our overriding impression is that designs for conversational bots need to be tested and reworked according to industry, market area and even by case.
The challenge for us lies in how and where to employ automation. This year’s ChatBot Summit made us aware of how much demand there is for it, and we could see a lot of recognised brands excited by the idea. However, there wasn’t a great deal of actual high-volume implementation, and most companies were still in the experimentation stage.
Our next steps should centre on knowing more about automation and understanding where Interact fits in. For clients facing inefficient processes, we can advise on chatbot and AI options – especially where our performance ability is affected. We are driven by the needs of our clients, so it’s up to us to identifying the right degree of integration to deliver something that enhances how our team works and the quality of service our clients can receive.