AI for the Enterprise

Getting started with conversational AI

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Conversational AI is the next frontier for business. In episode 2 of the Watson Masterclass, Director of Watson AI Lakisha Hall will discuss how chatbots and other AI tech can be integrated into your business. 

An increasing number of business leaders are looking to new technologies, like Conversational AI, to solve their common business challenges. Conversational AI is much more than just a simple chatbot. However, for clarity, we will use the term “chatbot” as a catch-all for cognitive applications that use natural language understanding to enable conversations between people and machines. Chatbots harness the power of human conversation to exponentially enhance the expertise, agency and impact of your organization on the world.

The state of chatbots has quickly evolved from a fad to an essential part of corporate strategy. Chatbots have matured into solutions that enterprises across industries are taking seriously. There are fundamental measures all businesses should take when setting out on their journey with conversational AI, to ensure they optimize the value at their fingertips with this technology.

Whether to provide better customer service, drive employee engagement, or improve other solution areas that chatbots play a role in, Conversational AI allows you to build robust agents to carry out conversations that communicate knowledge, answer questions, or walk you through a process. Designing a conversation to sufficiently meet consumer needs and return real business value requires a nuanced strategy and in-depth considerations. Once implemented, these conversations become more than just another way to interact with your brand — they become a source of data to understand what your customers are looking for and how they are engaging with your organization. Ultimately, it provides you with new insights and ways to optimize the customer experience.

Creating the AI strategy

Ensure the strategy meets the needs and environment of the company by:

  • Identifying gaps in the current business model. Use these gaps to define the objectives of your AI implementations.
  • Thinking about the customers’ needs and prioritizing the areas where AI could make the most significant differences. Start with small wins and iterate. Don’t boil the ocean.
  • Considering integration challenges of AI into the business and having a plan for retraining and organizational change management.
  • Pinpointing realistic goals and clearly defining what success looks like. Monitor progress against these goals throughout the project and make adjustments.

Building the team

The team leader should take a multi-faceted approach to gathering its members. Your technical architects and developers that are building your solution are fundamental to the project’s success, but Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) will be key players in the design as well. It is important that SMEs are brought onboard early and understand the shared vision that the business is working towards. Other stakeholders, for example the end users themselves, are equally as important in highlighting specific areas that the project should focus on based on their real experiences.

Preparing the data

One of the most important factors in any successful conversational AI journey is collecting information. Knowing where to harvest the data which informs a new project can be difficult, but organizations often have more tools in their arsenal than they realize:

  • Chat transcripts from existing, human, customer service personnel can be extremely useful for forming the building blocks of a virtual assistant’s answer bank.
  • Question Input Tools can be employed to gather information on the wide range of queries that customers will have.
  • Depending on a business’s relationship with its end users, direct interviews with customers or crowd sourcing can be a useful way to glean their expectations of customer service and interaction with the company.

It is important to remember that while many of the concepts behind conversational AI are universal, ensuring that you have right strategy, engagement and champions in your business to adopt and scale your AI journey is critical.

In episode 2 of the Watson Masterclass, Getting Started, I will discuss the foundations of any conversational AI journey and dive deeper into how to create your strategy, build your team and prepare your data. If you are looking to truly make conversational technology work for your business, your AI journey starts here.

Watch Episode 2 of the Masterclass.

Director, Watson Expert & Delivery Services, IBM

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