The Era of Mobile Chatbots

Nov 9, 2017

Chatbots are one of the most user-friendly segments of the artificial intelligence space that allow everyday users to interact with for a series of purposes. The premise of chatbots is that they provide an intuitive interface for communicating with an automated response system. For example, while some chatbots are designed for setting reservations, others are designed for entertainment purposes that mimic the responses of people. As training data and the technologies that support these systems continue to improve, so does the realism of the chatbot responses.

One of the most intriguing integration of chatbots has been converting the behaviour of real people to form bots that reflect their behaviour. For example, Luka has been an app that was built off of chat logs from a friend of the founder who had passed away. In doing so, the thousands of messages that were once exchanged are used to train the behaviour of the bot so that the friend could communicate with the bot as if it were the friend. Although this may appear strange and even creepy to many, it reflects the potential of for chatbots given enough training data. Furthermore, this case study opens up a massive amount of opportunities that exist through this model such as having a personal therapist or companion at all times through utilizing thousands of session logs by professionals.

Another form of chatbot integration has been the for the retail and consumer side which helps users to navigate through the purchasing process without the need for a real sales associate. One chatbot that has been particularly successful with this has been H&M which aims to help its users pick the best outfits. For example, in chatting with the bot through Kik, a social messaging platform, the chatbot will give advice on various clothing combinations as well as recommendations that are tailored to the user, all through the form of chat. Beyond this, the bot will also help users pick out selection based on the event that they are attending such as a formal event or a more casual event. By integrating the chatbot into the sales process, H&M is able to introduce a new element with their customers no matter where they are 24/7.

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In the realm of news, several chatbots have emerged to include CNN, WSJ, and The Guardian which have help to find tailored news stories on their respective platforms. Instead of having to search for the news article or the website itself, all that a user has to do is search for the keyword in any of those chatbots and then the news stories will emerge as if someone else has personally tailored the selection. One of the best features of news-based chatbots is that they provide relevant news articles whenever it is set by the preferences of the user. Furthermore, users can check in with their own keywords or get the breaking events in the form of a chat in order to deviate from the traditional block of text that is common with the news interface.

Swelly is another chatbot that is available which helps to streamline the decision making process and particularly voting on various topics that are generated by the user. For example, if a user wants to decide between two different events for a group, they are able to make a short survey between the two options for the attendees to vote. Through these A/B questions, users can get a quick response in a matter of minutes through a chat interface that has no friction that is common with alternative voting tools. While alternatives to this may exist such as Survey Monkey or Facebook, what differentiates Swelly from the other alternatives that are available on the web is that the interface of the voting system is extremely easy and is often one click as opposed to having an external website that takes longer to answer.

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While mobile phone users continue to spend an ever increasing amount of time in social apps such as Messenger and Kik, many chatbots have emerged to fill the gap between a friendlier interface and more intuitive interactions. By integrating chatbots in various industry verticals such as news and retail, a tremendous leap has been made in terms of utilizing artificial intelligence for enhancing user experience throughout the various processes. As a more engaging tool that better understands and responds to the user with enough training data, chatbots are starting to become more popular and accepted as an intermediary between a cookie-cutter response and an entirely manual response by a person. With this, consumers can expect to be exposed to an increasing number of chatbots as companies aim to make their operations more efficient and friendly through the power of artificial intelligence.

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Kevin Chau

Following my passion in the realm of business and entrepreneurship, I am always eager to develop skills that enable me to learn, build, and grow. My previous projects, both academic and personal, reflect my dedication towards expanding and applying my theoretical knowledge for practical results in these fields.

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