Conversational AI Trends for 2022
The Conversational AI sector made significant progress last year, as technological innovation and its adoption across international vertical markets drove growth and disruption for many of the industry’s key stakeholders, influencers, investors and organisations.
An even greater level of advancement is anticipated for the sector in 2022 as a number of developmental trends are set to define the next 12 months and beyond, according to industry experts from Artificial Solutions.
1. CAI joins the Omnichannel
As the volume of use cases grows across international markets, Conversational AI is quickly becoming a channel that marketeers, business owners and C-suite executives regard as essential for digital growth.
This year, we anticipate that CAI will join the likes of SEO, PPC, UX, UI, PR and Social Media as a core channel for businesses and enterprises to strategise around. As shown by the likes of ŠKODA and Swisscom in 2021, who committed significant resources towards their CAI teams and output.
“You might think of a chatbot as a helper that guides you through a website. It makes it easier for users to get oriented, saves time, and saves costs for companies. But a chatbot can also be seen as a sales tool and a means for collecting leads – potential customers. And that’s exactly how we work with digital assistants at ŠKODA.” Michal Reichl, Product Owner.
Investing resources correctly can drive results rivalling any major channel as a digital engagement and conversation tool. As a result, we anticipate that professionals working outside of the sector will become more aware of the potential of the technology and invest in their own education on the subject, driving the increase of marketers learning the skills required to build solutions. The greatest increase may come from content marketing specialists, who have a strong understanding of writing and communications.
For organizations investing in CAI, the question may be:
‘Do I train a developer to write or do I train a writer to develop?’
This may seem like an irrational point to make for those operating within the industry. You can’t just teach a social media guy to code, right? Granted, creating a complex CAI system is no breeze, however, the demand for software developers is at an all time high and even higher for those with the skills to build conversational solutions. And so, the task may be handed to communications professionals as time moves on and the demand for developers grows.
By 2024, 80% of technology products and services will be built by those who are not technology professionals, according to Gartner.
“Growth in digital data, low-code development tools and artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted development are among the many factors that enable the democratization of technology development beyond IT professionals.” Rajesh Kandaswamy, Research Vice President, Gartner.
Therefore, the knock on effect of CAI becoming much more mainstream, may see a transformation in the jobs market and the skills listed on job descriptions across the CAI space.
2. True Data Encryption Reaches CAI
A chatbot can collect a vast amount of data from a single user during a short time and when that data is plugged into tools such as Microsoft’s Power BI, the potential to generate insights and make key findings is limitless.
The key issue for some organisations is that user data can be sensitive and so, mining it for insights is prohibited. However, that may all be about to change as data encryption looks set to be incorporated into the industry.
“It’s exciting that we may have the power to encrypt data at ingestion, making it possible to use our technology even in the most sensitive data environments.” Per Ottosson, CEO, Artificial Solutions.
The volume of data gathered by retailers alone, is anticipated to surpass 175 zettabytes by 2025, according to Deloitte. Simply put, encryption will no longer be a ‘nice to have’ it will be a necessity for Conversational AI moving forward as the sheer volume of data it gathers will be so vast, that protecting it will be a serious challenge, especially if that data is sensitive.
However, if the data is encrypted at ingestion, this will add highly stringent protection at the earliest stage.
As the industry wakes up to the need for encryption, so will organisations utilizing it. As a result, a race to create encryption may ensue as it becomes the major selling point for providers of CAI tech.
3. Chat First, Visit Later?
Conversational AI solutions can now be built and integrated seamlessly with the likes of WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram and Google Assistant. And as the volume of mobile phone messaging users increases YOY, it has become clear that businesses have an opportunity to own entire sales funnels via these apps and channels.
The technology is already yielding major results as proven by the likes of Kids DXB, which is a Dubai-based business that offers a variety of learning, sport and fun activities for children. They organize holiday camps, birthday parties and offer coaching for a variety of sports.
To improve customer acquisition and experience, the company created a WhatsApp assistant that not only gathers new lead data but also provides information about all of the services in a comprehensive and convenient manner.
(Hover and click to play video)
With the added potential of in-app purchases, we expect that messaging app chatbots will rise significantly through the course of 2022 as businesses realize the potential offered by direct chat that takes place outside of their digital properties and websites.
“This year, I see a lot of companies taking serious ownership of their conversational AI journey and making it part of their overall strategy. It has to sit in there in the long run, next to the more traditional channels. It will be exciting to see how our clients work with their implementations in that way with their strategic, long term goals.” Britta G. M. Jensen, Lead Conversational AI Consultant, Artificial Solutions.
4. Sustainability and C02 Reductions
The Conversational AI sector has a role to play in helping to reduce global C02 emissions and the importance of doing so is more important than ever before.
We´re not going to throw all kinds of scary statistics at you in this section, because we all know how serious the situation is, don’t we?
For the CAI industry, there is a direct impact that can be made through the implementation of its technology across international markets, especially with businesses that operate with contact centres.
Using a single CAI solution, an organization could reduce its energy consumption drastically. Customers would spend less time on the phone waiting if a complex voice bot could guide them to a resolution before a human reaches them. Furthermore, reducing the need for customer assistants to travel to a large centre could significantly reduce C02 emissions for a single company.
Leaders across the CAI sector are also making a concerted effort to reduce their impact on the environment.
If you would like to know how you or your business can be more sustainable, consider switching your internet browser to Ecosia. If you operate in the tech sector its a ‘no brainer’ as each search helps to plant a tree in an area of the world that the NGO is working to reforest.
You can even sign up your entire organisation and receive a unique tracking code which keeps count of all of the trees you’ll be responsible for planting, allowing you to make a carbon offset calculation each month.
5. Next-Gen Chat
Issues surrounding inequality and diversity are never far away from any future trends discussion, so you may think that the nuances of the subject have been fully exhausted by now, but from a CAI perspective, there is a unique angle that few of you are likely to have considered.
The next phase of CAI is expected to centre on bots with real personality and with a level of character that we have yet to experience. And so, with greater thought and experience being used to develop bots with , the importance on diversity enters the conversation.
“Diversity is becoming a higher priority for Generation Z and employer practices and culture are going to increasingly be weighted by their focus and results in building a stronger culture of inclusion.” Gavriella Schuster, Advisory Board Chairwoman, Artificial Solutions
The importance of language and dialect is clear enough. An internationally deployed chatbot needs to be able to straddle boarders and communicate with users in their native language and this is exemplified by the focus on languages on the Teneo platform, which has over 86 languages available to developers. But is language simply enough?
“A conversational interface enables the most direct and intuitive way of interacting with your customers. Imagine your assistant persona as being an employee or visionary of your company or organization.”
“You’d want them to be knowledgeable, empathetic, and polite in any conversation. You would also maybe imagine them showing presence, aware of the context, and knowing when to be silent and listen in any conversational situation.” Dr. Laura Dreessen, Senior Voice Architect, VUI Agency.
With this in mind, wouldn’t you want your organization to also have a voice that connects to people from a diverse mix of backgrounds?
This may well become the next big challenge for the CAI sector, but it´s one that is worth following closely over the next year. We´re certainly looking forward to hearing about chatbots that have been created to connect with a specific minority community or group, much like the one featured in Wired here.
6. Rules of the Game
As the evolution and revolution of the tech sector rolls on, growing calls are being made to create legislation that has oversight of what is being created and why.
Prominently, the European Commission has proposed 3 inter related legal initiatives that will contribute to building trustworthy AI in 2022 and beyond.
They consist of:
- A European legal framework for AI to address fundamental rights and safety risks specific to the AI systems.
- EU rules to address liability issues related to new technologies, including AI systems (last quarter 2021-first quarter 2022);
- A revision of sectoral safety legislation (e.g. Machinery Regulation, General Product Safety Directive, second quarter 2021).
The the implementation of GDPR and the protection it provides to users and their data has been a major success and data breaches are now treated as extremely serious matters by businesses in Europe. Bad practices, such as database sales, have been wiped away and we are all the better for it.
Regulation can often be seen as a negative influence when it comes to the development of technology, however, in order to protect the burgeoning AI sector in Europe and to prevent regulation getting in the way of pregress, industry the EU is offering major investment as part of its proposal.
“The Commission and Member States agreed to boost excellence in AI by joining forces on AI policy and investment. The revised Coordinated Plan on AI outlines a vision to accelerate, act, and align priorities with the current European and global AI landscape and bring AI strategy into action.”
“Maximising resources and coordinating investments is a critical component of the Commission’s AI strategy. Through the Digital Europe and Horizon Europe programmes, the Commission plans to invest €1 billion per year in AI. It will mobilise additional investments from the private sector and the Member States in order to reach an annual investment volume of €20 billion over the course of the digital decade.” Source
7. Our Future Ahead
Finally, we asked our team what excites them the most about the next 12 months and what else they predict for the near future.
Per Ottosson, CEO
“I´ m excited about the potential that SaaS and Azure bring to our clients, saving big amounts of CO2 and scaling effortlessly. And we will replace the IVRs during 2022. I also think that Google overstated the potential in their Agent Assists solution ability to go to automation and that will be a big news story in 2022.”
Recommended read: “Kai-Fu Lees book AI Superpowers. Read it and you will decide to dive straight into your AI projects.”
Gavriella Schuster, Chairwoman of the Advisory Board
“The great resignation shows no sign of slowdown. With the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, employees are rethinking their priorities and their current jobs. In order for employers to retain their employees they are going to have to reconsider inclusion and engagement strategies like flexible work, family leave and ways to further include and engage all of their staff.”
“My ambition for 2022 is to build a community of allies who will support and mentor each other on their journey to a better understanding of what it means to be an ally. A community committed to learning how to lead with compassion, empathy, and to work with intention to use their power and privilege to help woman and other underrepresented minorities to thrive in the workforce.”
Read Artificial Solutions Diversity Manifesto, here.
Britta G. M. Jensen, Lead Conversational AI Consultant
“I have always found the broad span of projects – sectors, channels, scopes, use cases – amazing. There are so many options! I am always curious to see what new ideas and implementations are brought to life based on the ideas of the people sitting and defining the conversational AI user experience that is right for their company. I also think we are going to see some great advances in the NLU field with more sophisticated learning algorithms.”
Recommended read: Don’t miss out on all the good stuff that is being shared in the Forum on Teneo Developers.
Linette Manuel, Developer Advocate
“I am really excited to see more use cases that incorporate predictive models and leverage data in the conversation design. From the perspective of the evolution of human computer interaction I am looking forward to seeing expansion to other technologies, such as AR or VR or any Metaverses.”
“I would love to look back on 2022 at the end of the year and see a big amount of progress in the development of our Teneo Community.”
Recommended read: QualityLand is a great satiric fiction, from the educational books I would recommend of course Cathy Pearl’s Book Designing Voice User interfaces or Voice Technology in Healthcare, written by Teri Fisher, Harry P. Pappas, Sandhya Pruthi and David Metcalf.