Main insights and what to be aware of in the AI & chatbot industry in the year(s) to come
Not even a week ago, I was away for a (much needed!) break from the Danish winter weather, when I walked around barefoot on the beaches of sunny Tel Aviv. And what a great week in Israel’s cosmopolitan tech-hub it was — I mean, look at that sunset. Who wouldn’t love it?
The biggest chatbot gathering in the world
The occasion of going to Tel Aviv wasn’t just to get some sun, beaches and suck in the fuzz of Israel’s biggest tech hotspot though. Rather, the BotSupply team was in town to participate in the 4th edition of the Chatbot Summit, with the goal of tapping into a fresh round of perspectives, get talking with industry colleagues, find new friends to play with and of course to keep learning more about how we can improve ourselves
So we packed our bags and flew in from all over the world to meet in Israel ✈️. And as the hodgepodge of a team we are, we were represented by co-founders, designers, business developers and AI scientists from Denmark, Italy and India 🇩🇰 🇮🇹 🇮🇳
So what did we learn?
The headlines mainly revolved around the state of the industry as a whole, and how we progress from here as a unified business area:
So what do we do when our baby-bot industry is finally about to grow up and actually needs to deliver value to clients, users and customers?
Essentially, the chatbot industry has grown up, and is now facing the hard reality of Gardners (in)famous hype curve’s bottom point 👇
The good news is that this is really an opportunity: As an industry, we’re finally reaching a point where technology, know-how, users and market are aligning and becomming more ready than ever for the robot invasion 🤖
So let’s go ahead and grab that opportunity… But how? Happy you asked!
Focus, tech and some more focus
Entering 2018, there are a lot of (more or less) good chatbot companies out there, so we need to ask ourselves how we can 1) make the best chatbot business, and 2) stand out from the rising competitors?
The main takeaway from our perspective was focus. For some, this means creating a bot framework for developers, and for others, it’s creating a DIY platform for enterprise chatbots. At BotSupply, we don’t think the main value for the above mentioned stakeholders is in creating more of that. The world of both bots and applied AI needs more focus on use cases, quality, design and tech. So for us, focus means focusing even more on what we’re best at: The intersection of Creativity and AI 💡🤖
This means that we will first of all continue to invest in our in-house AI technologies and the source of that: Our network of AI scientists, with whom we work and look for interesting ways to apply breaking research results from some of the smartest brains in the world — like our very own Rahul Kumar, who was the star of the day in the BotSupply booth at the summit 🚀
Amongst other projects, Rahul is a main driver behind the NLP for the chatbots we build, but also the groundbreaking NLP engine powering our recent spin-off Jatana.
Secondly, focus also means that we will keep pushing for developing AI solutions as contextually adapted innovation projects. It’s not just about building bots and making it easy for everyone to build them — though that has also been great for the industry in terms of getting bots on the map and mind of everyone. Rather, bots are at a point now, where they need to actually deliver value to businesses and users. And to me, this means questioning what we build, how we do it and why we even build ‘something’ using conversation as a means of interaction and AI as the primary tech. It means we need to design the solutions.
It’s easy to create something useless that works. Creating something truly useful that works, provides a pleasurable experience and solves a problem is a lot harder.
Personally, I’m very optimistic for 2018. Not just about chatbots, but conversations as a means of interaction. I personally believe this is the year where users, market, budgets, technology and design finally intertwine, and we will see a boom in awesome experiences mediated with conversations.
A little extra personal spice
On top of the above high-level takeaways, I also had the pleasure of being on stage participating in a debate about great chatbots and UX. Here, my fellow panelists and I debated i.a. the intersection of humans and technology, the maturity of chatbots and conversational UI, how we scale AI-powered conversational solutions and what things conversational UI’s aren’t necessarily the best for.
On the question of chatbots and humans can/will work together, Lior Romanowsky highlighted what I believe is the overall take-away from the discussion:
“Humans are, right? We can do a lot of things that machines cannot.” — Lior
Humans and machines are not competitors or oppositions. Technology has always been tools for humans to do things better or different. In the end of the day, validity, usefulness and basically the very need for chatbots, AI, voices in our lamps and automation of processes all depend on us, the humans. Hence, I believe we have to start with the humans, not the technology. This applies to both how businesses should approach it, how designers/creators of AI-based solutions should work and to how societies can tackle the challenges and opportunities that comes with the development.
In my next series of articles, I will try to dive more into concrete use cases by showcasing some of our internal experiments, which we do as part of our Reserach & Play focus!
See you later, 🐊