Conversational AI in the New Normal

Introduction
Using a chatbot, conversational artificial intelligence (AI) assists in responding to end users’ inquiries. Consumers or workers of a business, or both external and internal customers, are examples of end-users. Chatbots have come a long way from how it was originally conceived to where they are now. Users’ expectations keep changing from initially being skeptical about interacting with a system to finding it quite useful in getting most of the resolution anytime, anywhere on any device. AI is evolving in leaps and bounds, many startups have sprung up in the recent past, and advanced features are getting added to the capabilities to deliver a better experience to those using them. The pandemic situation had forced many businesses to go digital or relook at their marketing/ business strategies to remain profitable. Let us see how it left the mark on the new normal.

 

The New Normal

When New Year’s Eve (Jan. 1st) was celebrated in 2020 with much fanfare, as usual, we humans took nature for granted in our routine manner and made plans for the year with little knowledge of what would strike us in the next few months. A virus released nature’s potential in one blow, bringing the entire world to its knees. As a result, new behaviours evolved, such as staying inside and avoiding social contact.

Most of the businesses were found napping as they had to figure out new ways for almost all their operations. Few sectors like manufacturing were worst affected as Work From Home (WFH) was and continues to be a new term for them. Their workforce needed to go to factories to do their work. In one of our demos of the Conversational AI platform in 2020, one manufacturing company’s representatives told us that our employees must come to offices/factories daily, and WFH is not an option. The request was to let them know if we could set up an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) mechanism to address their employee’s queries round the clock. We could sense their plight after attending a meeting on alien technology. Like them, there could have been more companies who had fallen behind the line, unaware of the latest technologies, and still were looking to go the old way.

Towards the end of 2020, we were beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but lightning struck twice. The next year also followed the same trend as the previous one.

 

Digital Adoption
While the IT sector was largely unaffected, those companies too had to ramp up on many aspects quickly. One of the positives of this crisis is that it has increased the pace at which companies are looking to do digital transformation.

It was a challenge to loosen up the purse to introduce new technological interventions or upgrade with declining revenues. And the companies are still figuring out how to get that holy grail. With less time on hand, quick calls had to be made to find valid options to ensure better customer engagement. Consumers wanted quick and correct answers from organizations/products they were engaging. Otherwise, they were shifting to those who offered it.

Many people are going online to order groceries, medicines, and vegetables, and chatbot usage is on the rise to get their queries resolved faster. With ‘Diversity & Inclusion’ also gaining traction, we were beginning to see better features coming to play owing to a wider and diverse set of workforces joining hands and offering different views on doing things.

 

Evolution of Conversational AI
Chatbots started as a simple rule-based one and have come a long way to the current days of answering queries most humanely. With more and more adoption of other technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), Personalization, Extended Reality (XR), etc., this technology is also evolving on how to blend with others and offer a unique enriched experience to customers.

It’s quite a challenge for developers to build solutions with interoperability and rich experience in mind yet achieve complex tasks! As usual, the human race always rises to the challenge, and with AI for company, anything is possible.

 

A Word on our Platform
Infosys Chatbot Platform is AI-based, which enables enterprises to bring conversational capabilities to existing and new enterprise applications and helps expand the scope of automation beyond IT simplification and optimization.

To provide a seamless experience across various applications and aid enterprises in their digital adoption journey, we have integrated a few of our other offerings, namely Infosys Live Enterprise Application Management Platform (LEAP) and Infosys Digital Transition Solution (DigiTran), in response to the growing demand for AI technologies.

For AI solutions to be effective and available to everyone, they must adhere to a set of “Responsible AI principles.”

  • Fairness – Our models support it, but it is the responsibility of the chatbot designer to configure non-bias intents and responses
  • Reliability and Safety – Our testing and training analysis feature and the testing platform help to test configuration results to take care of these
  • Inclusiveness – We support it in our models, but the responsibility of the chatbot designer is to take care of it
  • Privacy and Security – We support masking and encrypting any Personally Identifiable Information (PII) captured as part of interaction with the chatbot
  • Transparency – Our testing and training analysis feature brings transparency to the current accuracy and precision level of the configured solution and provides recommendations to improve them if needed.

 

Conclusion
COVID is playing hide-and-seek this year (2022) as well, but we are seeing more and more conversational AI adoption. I hope these conversational AI adoption efforts bear fruit as time passes and customers start receiving better service from organizations. It would, in turn, help these organizations fair well with growth in their market share and encourage them to improve and deploy more in the space of chatbots.

Author Details

Kavitha Sundararajan

I am a Banking domain expert with more than a decade of experience, especially in the Lending area. In iCETS Unit, I handle multiple activities like working in large transformation deals, interactions with various stakeholders, developing marketing strategies, and building product roadmaps.

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