The future of the voice enabled AI
|Richard Harris in Artificial Intelligence Friday, August 25, 2017|
The future for voice enabled machine learning and AI systems is looking brighter than ever.
We had a chat with Brian Peterson, currently the co-founder and VP of Engineering at Dialpad and previously a Senior Software Engineer at Google - building the front end of Google Voice. Here's what he had to say about the future of the technologies.
ADM: Which chatbot trend do you think will make the most impact?
Peterson: One reason texting has taken off with millennials is that they don’t like talking to people. Now that voice-bots have arrived, they can get what they want done even faster than texting, while still not having to speak to someone (especially a stranger), in real time. Another aspect of this is that millennials hate waiting. They expect instant communications. With the rise of AI and Voice, they can get immediate answers. Enterprises have to evolve with the new generations of customers, and by having dynamic and instant responses to their customers, they win.
ADM: What are the implications of these trends for developers?
Peterson: Enterprises are getting greedy with efficiency, as they should be. That means they want everything instantly, and they want everything as automated as possible. When I think of AI, I mostly just think of automation. AI helps your product be more automated, but it’s not always specifically AI doing it. For example, most Alexa integrations aren’t using AI/machine learning to power their responses. The implication for developers is that they can’t just have settings and basic features anymore. They must build in something magical, such as automatic answers to questions and the data that goes along with it. Chatbots will be a key interface feature to make the magic happen.
ADM: What are some of the considerations/challenges from a technology standpoint?
Peterson: Nowadays there are so many services out there to help with all or parts of your automation efforts. Amazon, Google and Microsoft all offer cloud-based machine learning APIs. Also, you only pay for what you use, so you don’t have to invest a lot of money upfront to test your ideas. In addition, it’s extremely simple to develop for Alexa, Google Assistant and Cortana. You can leverage what they’ve already built and made accessible to everyone. You are getting transcription and natural language processing for free when your customers use your product through those devices.
ADM: What are the implications of these trends for enterprises?
Peterson: Again, it’s all about efficiency and automation. Chat/Voice bots are just another way to get things done, but ideally with fewer steps and more accuracy, so it makes sense that enterprises would see the value. It frees up time for employees to do more important thinking and creating. Highly educated and smart employees shouldn’t be spending their time doing rudimentary tasks, but should instead be more creative and make better use of their time. Another way to think of what bots are doing is consolidating. Instead of having to use many different tools in your workflow, you can use one centralized interface to execute commands and get information. Being able to access and control everything you need for work from anywhere is a part of this. It not only makes workers more productive, but also happier because they have more control of when they work. You can arrive at home and issue commands to Alexa to do work tasks. It’s very powerful and it doesn’t necessarily mean you work more, it means your life is more flexible. You can take my kids to an appointment in the middle of the day, come home and get the same experience you have at work to catch up if you need to. I think the future of the workplace is a bunch of start and stop segments throughout your week. Anywhere communications and automation lets you do that.
ADM: How do you see the evolution of chatbots forming in the cloud communications industry?
Peterson: The cloud enables control from anywhere. Your work internet, mobile internet, and home internet all have the same power. This increases productivity and flexibility. Bots and the cloud mean you can get more things done because you don’t have to be using a specific system or be in a specific place to get the same work done.
Bots are the machines, and voice and text are just the ways of input for the machine. Voice is taking off more than ever because it’s faster than text now, but text will always have a place. There are use cases for both in different situations. In public places or a quiet office, you might not want to use voice, so you will always have the choice of both. Even Alexa and Google now support both forms of bot input.
ADM: How is the team at Dialpad currently leveraging these trends in its current and future roadmap?
Peterson: The vision for Dialpad is to be able to have access to your communication platform from any internet-connected device that will allow it. That’s why we have Alexa integration, and that’s why we will always develop for devices that can enhance/improve your communications. We already have support for some of these, and with our modern cloud platform, we plan on having all current and future integrations ready quickly: Computer, mobile phone, tablet, car (Android Auto, Apple Carplay), TV, smart locks, chatbot platforms like Google Assistant, Facebook Messenger, etc.
We believe in both Voice and Text, which we feel is required to have real full Bot support. Users should be able to call into your support line and get instant answers without having to talk to a person. You should be able to determine what your users’ common questions are and how happy they are from their conversations with your agents or system. We also support texting (SMS & MMS) to enable the same features you can get with voice. The phone number is arguably the largest social network in the world. Everyone has one and everyone knows what to do when you give them a phone number and tell them they can call or text it. By supporting both voice and text, you are fully enabling your business. You don’t want to lose a customer or sale because you don’t support one or the other. We now have the ability to make the experience unified in one platform, with automation and business intelligence behind it.
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