Chatbots and virtual agents have been all the rage in AI circles for the last 10 years and have seen significant improvement in their capabilities. Tech savvy individuals though are familiar with the hype curve, the initial development of new technology leads to massive hype and investment. The hype reaches a peak before disillusionment comes about and finally a recovery with more level headed individuals and companies demonstrating an economically advantageous use of the technology. The tech advancements in chatbots lie mostly in advancements in AI technologies focused on natural language processing (NLP). Although AI tech for image processing has seen massive improvements over the last 5 years (in no small part due to the massive amount of “labeled” data), NLP is further behind as human language is an extremely complex beast. The first complexity lies in simply deciphering human terminologies and linguistic shortcuts, while the second complexity lies in providing the appropriate response that makes sense. Therein lies the crux of the hype curve, initial investors assumed a much quicker advancement in NLP than what technologists have delivered.
Where can one find a use for chatbots? One popular usage of chatbots is meant to be for any small or large online based business. Imagine an e-commerce website using a chatbot to help answer detailed customer questions, such a tool can greatly increase website conversion rates by increasing customer trust while being able to handle hundreds of customer inquiries a minute. Imagine a company not using a chatbot having to either hire dozens of live customer support agents or avoiding such a feature and having to lose customers. Solutions are now provided by various companies to quickly develop and deploy their own chatbot using open source libraries. Botpress is one such company, go to this page to check out some interesting solutions.
What’s The Difference Between A Chatbot And A Virtual Agent? According to RealtimeCampaign.com, A virtual agent is more than just a chatbot on steroids, it is a full virtual assistant which provides an end to end service to specific individuals throughout their day. For example imagine a sales team member of using a virtual agent to not only get scheduling reminders about upcoming calls and meetings, but also their virtual agent working in the background to help negotiate deals and provide better customer service by listening in on calls or chats and making calculations in the background to provide quotes and other important business-related advice in real-time.
Chatbots are a potentially hugely scalable and the continued development of NLP AI technology will result in their widespread deployment across many online websites as many powerful examples have been demonstrated and companies big and small have launched chatbot services. However, the promised potential of virtual agents is yet to be convincingly demonstrated beyond just meeting reminders.