Who’s Stealing Your Customers?
Customer data is a key benefit in conversational AI, so it’s always surprised me how much companies are willing to give away to the tech giants in exchange for some low-cost tools that do little more than build a first generation chatbot. Now apparently the EU and the US have woken up to the fact that it’s not just people’s personal data that’s being exploited by online interactions, but business data too.
The New York Times reported earlier this month that the EU is preparing to bring anti-trust charges against Amazon amid reports that it “is stifling competition by unfairly using data collected from third-party merchants to boost its own product offerings”.
Although this isn’t specifically talking about conversational data, it is something we’ve had concerns about for some time. Back in 2015 we spoke to Inc. on the thorny issue of data ownership in conversational AI and the dangers of giving the tech giants carte blanche access to your customer’s choices and preferences.
Stop Giving Data Away
How they achieve this is surprisingly simple. As owners of operating systems that span multiple platforms and devices that act as a ‘controller’ between you and your customers the tech giants have plenty of opportunities to learn about your customers.
This is because people reveal a vast amount of information when speaking in a normal and natural way. They divulge their likes and dislikes, why they need something, or what’s stopping them from purchasing your product. Collated and analyzed conversational data provides far more business insight than a focus group. It’s a constant stream of essential information available in real-time.
Even under the constraints of privacy regulation such as GDPR, conversational data still delivers value.
But depending on the technology you use to build and deploy a chatbot, you may be giving large portions of this data away. Or worse, you may not have access to all the data in the first place, just the final pizza order, because the tech giant has kept for themselves all the “extraneous detail” that the customer asked for, such as unavailable toppings.
Own your Data to Maximize Value
Data ownership is essential for enterprises to maximize the value from their conversational AI applications. At Artificial Solutions we’ve always taken the stance that legally it’s the property of our clients.
And this isn’t just about competition or privacy either. Enabling our customers to own the conversational data they generate also allows them to secure it more easily according to their own policies and procedures.
According to the New York Times, Amazon isn’t the only company being investigated. The European Commissioner is also examining practices by Apple and Facebook, and in Washington the Justice Department, Federal Trade Commission and Congress are targeting Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google.
In these uncertain economic times, businesses can’t afford to have customers lured away using the very data given freely by those same customers. It’s time to safeguard your conversational data, not just to protect the privacy of your customers, but the survival of your business too.