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Chatbots are passe

Blog: NASSCOM Official Blog

Chatbots that respond to user queries and give responses are pretty useless in the AI era!

Well that seems like a bold statement to make, but it’s true. As far as the AI is concerned chatbots were the lowest hanging fruit. Because it was really simple – train on utterances and corresponding intents. The more you train the more accurate the outcome. Almost every cloud provider is happy to provide the Neural Nets for the training so long as you are using the GPUs on their cloud. The rest is even simpler… Once you have an intent, run the user through a simple flow. Most chatbot providers don’t even bother with text in this part… it’s just buttons. The smart ones provide an “escape hatch”, which basically helps when the user “wants out” of that particular flow. Practically even that’s very uncommon because that means having to identify the next intent and now that means more intents and build upon the confusion matrix. So the only AI learning component is predicting intent based on utterances. And that’s what you will be left with if you (for whatever reason) choose to move the cloud instance from one cloud to another or even to an on-prem instance.

Some might argue “so what, as long as it solves an enterprise problem” The problem is big, hence the opportunity is huge and the solution enhances user experience at considerably lower costs. All facts and we would all have to agree. Unless, what if, it was like a CD! The compact disc is something that practically had the same factors going it’s way. It was compact, it could hold more music or even data, it could in fact give a great experience when compared to the audio cassettes. Even the players were compact and cheaper. The whole world was practically the market. Where is it today? What percent of the population listens to music on the CD? That’s the story with intermediate tech. It fulfills a need but a better technology comes along and takes it to a new level in a really short span of time.

The Chatbot works as part of a function within an organisation. But can it link different functions? The Chatbot can be trained on utterances but can it read unstructured data? The chatbot can run workflows based on intents but can it create free flowing conversations? The chatbot can be hosted on a cloud, but can it be hosted on prem? Or change the cloud instance? The chatbot can be managed from a dashboard. But can it be managed by conversational UI? The chatbot can run on an app or whatsapp. But can it be truly omnichannel? The chatbot can reduce operational costs, but can it help with the revenue generation? These are some of the key questions any enterprise has to ask itself before implementing a chatbot. Or else they may end up with the equivalent of a music CD in the cognitive era.

Cognitive Process Automation – The new frontier

This is the real deal. A CPA platform looks at the problem from a process automation perspective and not a communication interface. So it becomes clear to the enterprise that if this process gets automated it means lesser dependencies on human resources as prior to this era only humans had cognition. Now, because of the dependability, availability, uniformity of service, recall, and inter connectivity now the systems give a better user experience.

In cognitive process automation (CPA) the chatbots are just another interface to trigger an enterprise process or on occasion involve humans as part of a process.

This is what enterprises actually need, the Cognitive Process Automation platform that helps you automate processes within your enterprise which can also be published on a chat engine among other interfaces i.e. SMS, Email, Alexa, telefone, etc. The chat interface should be able to understand human free flowing text conversations and automate various processes based on those instructions.

In marketing for example – a chatbot could be part of a lead generation process. But a CPA could transform the simple lead gen process to a lending automation process- in cases where the banks want to dissolve the gap between a lead and the actual loan offer using conversational UI and connect to various enterprise systems. Similarly in HR you could have a chatbot to engage your employees with HR queries and requests, but you will need CPA to improve their productivity as they should be able to use any interface for every connect to an enterprise system via a single window, be it HR or sales or shared services or even to schedule a meeting with their colleagues.

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