The AI Revolution
Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and chatbots are revolutionising the way large businesses interact with and service their customers – here’s how.
Chatbots and Digital Assistants aren’t new
Over the past few years, there’s been a lot of noise surrounding chatbots and AI, with tech experts like Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, hailing them as the ‘next big thing’…but what exactly is a chatbot?
A chatbot or digital assistant is a computer program that uses artificial intelligence to interact with users automatically without the need for human control, having verbal or textual conversations that mimic humanlike speech patterns. Basically, it’s a device that you chat with, either on a messaging platform like Facebook Messenger or a voice interface like Amazon’s Alexa.
These technologies aren’t a new commodity – the term ‘chatbot’ was coined in 1994 and it’s likely we’ve all interacted with one, whether that be Apple’s Siri, Google Home, or SmarterChild the early 2000s MSN Messenger bot. The majority of early chatbots were built solely for entertainment purposes, but as technology advances, they’re getting smarter. Many businesses are starting to fully realise the value of these technologies and have found several practical applications for them in their infrastructure, allowing them to work smarter and faster, doing more with less.
Its technology that’s inevitable, so who’s doing it and how?
There are numerous businesses that are already employing chatbots to service their customers, seeing huge successes. Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa has been incredibly popular and as of September 2017, Maxim Abramchuk, Founder and CTO @ BotCube said the device has incorporated over 23,000 bots (known as skills). Google has seen massive growth with their bot Google Assistant – in early 2017, the bot was available on 7 million devices and in January 2018, Google Assistant Engineering VP Scott Huffman announced in a blog post this number had grown to 400 million!
Satya Nadella said that chatbots are ‘technology that’s inevitable’ and spoke about the development of bots as a way to create ‘conversation as a platform’. Well, this has never been easier with the growth of messaging apps. The number of active users on messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger has soared over the past few years and is continuing to rise. Watch this video for some quick facts:
With messaging apps becoming the number one way of communicating, businesses are adapting so that they have visibility and a method to engage with consumers on these platforms. Many companies have already successfully implemented chatbots into messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, Skype and Slack. Here are some of the standouts:
- Domino’s Pizza – Domino’s ‘Dom’ chatbot was one of the first implemented into Facebook Messenger allowing their customers to easily and quickly order their favourite pizzas and create a ‘Pizza Legend’ to be published in their Pizza Hall of Fame. Dom has been built with a cheesy persona and will make pizza jokes and puns when you’re chatting with him:
- Microsoft & Heston Blumenthal – Michelin Starred chef Heston Blumenthal is notorious for his culinary innovations and in April 2017 he teamed with Microsoft to create the Heston Bot. The Heston Bot is hosted in Skype and is designed to improve customer’s culinary skills. Chatting with the Heston Bot gives you culinary tips and tricks, flavour pairings as well as video messages from Heston himself. The bot can also test you on your culinary knowledge as seen below:
- Spotify – Spotify’s new bot brings their search and discovery features directly into Facebook Messenger. The chatbot can recommend songs, artists and playlists based on your preferred genre, activity or mood. Going for a run and want a motivational playlist? The Spotify bot has you covered! You can also share music with your Facebook friends in Messenger chat.
- TripAdvisor – TripAdvisor has also created a chatbot in Facebook messenger to help you with all of your travelling needs. Going to Rome and want to find the best pizzeria? Chat with TripAdvisor’s bot and they’ll send you the best recommendations. Key features include instant travel advice on what to do, where to eat and where to stay, hotel and flight price comparisons and the ability to easily collaborate on travel plans with friends and family.
Chatbots improve the customer experience
For businesses and customers, chatbots act as a mutually beneficial platform to interact and transact with one another and have huge potential to improve the overall customer experience. With more and more people using messaging apps, businesses have a much higher customer reach when engaging on these platforms. 34% of UK executives also said that chatbots freed up time for their employees, which allowed them to focus more on deep thinking and other innovative services and solutions for their customers.
For consumers, bots provide 24/7 access to businesses, they’re instant and therefore eliminate load and wait times, they aren’t emotional and don’t get disgruntled so always approach customers with a positive attitude and there’s no need to download additional apps or software to use them. We also know that this is what customers want! Have a look at these figures…
Innovation at RS Components
RS Components realise the importance of innovation for our business, but more importantly for our customers. We’re an 80-year-old business, and to enable us to succeed we have been continually innovating our business model to grow and keep ahead of market trends – all in the name of customer value. DesignSpark is a fantastic example of this – anticipating the rise of independent design engineers and makers, we created DesignSpark as a platform to fuel innovation, providing free, world-class resources and fostering a thriving community of fellow engineers.
RS Components built its business on providing products that keep businesses operating in both the electronics and the industrial MRO space; and technologies like AI, IOT, VR and 3D printing are the future of those sectors. This isn’t about being first out of the block to deliver clever solutions, it’s about delivering a great service for our customers, and these new and emerging technologies enable us to do that.
Talking about chatbots, Cameron Ward, Senior Vice President of DesignSpark Innovation commented “Disruptive innovation is at the heart of what we do and the potential for this new technology to revolutionise the way we support our customers is huge. It’s early days, but in order to remain leaders in our industry, we need to harness the power of AI to deliver great value to our customers, as well as our internal teams”.