Chatbots and conversational commerce

Why is this important?

Chat and messaging has become a natural part of our everyday interactions with one another. It is still dominantly between humans, although the rise of conversational commerce has been predicted for some years. Conversational commerce means using chat or natural dialogue interfaces for interacting with a company, much like would be done with a sales clerk. The conversation can be between consumer and business, consumer and shopping assistant or merchant and back-office system. Using chat or messaging is a natural interface which works well for mobile, scales well into new features, supports multiple devices and is familiar to most. Therefore it is very lucrative for businesses.

Things to keep an eye on

Conversational commerce advances in two frontiers: in platform specific chatbots and integrated into other messaging apps such as WeChat or Messenger. The advances in artificial intelligence have enabled more fluent conversations to take place with chatbots, making them more usable. There is also increasing amount of commercial offerings integrated into messaging apps. It is also worth looking how voice activated personal assistants such as Siri or Alexa evolve in terms of recommending where to shop.

Selected articles and websites

The conversational commerce hype is real
Watch Out for the “Conversational Interface” in 2017
Chatbots and VR lead this season’s top tech trends in retail
The inevitable march of the chatbots into conversational commerce
2016 will be the year of conversational commerce
Start building Actions on Google

Mikko Dufva

Research Scientist VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd
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Use cases of AI for platforms

Why is this important?

There is currently a lot of hype around artificial intelligence (AI), but what opportunities does it offer for platforms? Roughly put: intelligent interfaces, comprehensive collection and advanced analysis of data. Chatbots and other conversational interfaces offer a natural way for people to communicate with a service offered by the platform, either via typing or voice. AI can offer customer service, online tutoring, expert advice or even a personal assistant. In the background it can go through massive amounts of data and recognise patterns. This has applications from health diagnosis to extracting information from street signs and from combating fraud to identifying key “influencers” of social media. The more data is fed to AI, more capable it gets.

Things to keep an eye on

All the big players are investing heavily in AI, with the hopes that they become the de facto platform for all things AI. How this plays out remains to be seen. It is also uncertain how the public opinion towards AI evolves: so far we have been a bit wary of letting always on personal assistants into our living rooms or trusting AI with our health data. The ethics of AI are still being discussed although the technology and services are advancing rapidly.

Selected articles and websites

Artificial intelligence and the evolution of the fractal economy
How Artificial Intelligence and Robots Will Radically Transform the Economy
7 Ways to Introduce AI into Your Organization
Google, Facebook, and Microsoft Are Remaking Themselves Around AI
Here’s What Artificial Intelligence Will Look Like in 2030
Why artificial intelligence is the future of growth
Would you want to talk to a machine?
Google’s Featured Snippets on Desktop Now Written By Artificial Intelligence
Uber Bets on Artificial Intelligence With Acquisition and New Lab

Mikko Dufva

Research Scientist VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd
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