AI, Chatbots

Our 2020 Bot Vision: 8 Chatbot Predictions for the Enterprise

By 6 Minute Read

It’s time for some chatbot predictions as we wrap up the year and celebrate some great chatbot successes with our clients. As we look ahead and start a new year and a new decade, it’s interesting to look back on some of the tech highlights from the last ten years.

Technology and AI Throughout the 2010s

2010 saw the introduction of the iPad while the launch of Instagram started the craze for image sharing. Messaging apps, like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Snapchat, exploded over the past decade, offering consumers a more convenient way to communicate and share. Geolocation became a feature of our mobile devices, enabling a whole slew of mobile apps to track and guide our location in ways that changed many of our everyday habits as witnessed with the launch of the ride-hailing service, Uber. And voice became a thing with Siri on the iPhone in 2011 and Alexa in our kitchens in 2014.

Many more innovations shaped the consumer and business landscape throughout the last decade, demonstrating that technology advancements are both fast-paced and often unpredictable. But where was artificial intelligence (AI) throughout these years?

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost nine years since IBM’s Watson computer beat a reigning champion on Jeopardy, the question-and-answer trivia show. Watson was set to change the world even if, at the time, it was a mammoth room-sized computer. Five years later, in early 2016, we saw the introduction of the first wave of artificial intelligence technology in the form of chatbots. Since then, advancements in natural language and machine learning technology have led to the significant adoption of chatbots across different industries, with varying degrees of successes and failures.

Watson and Jeopardy

Predicting technology in an era of such fast-paced advancements and high-velocity innovation cycles is a risky business but if I were to have a crystal ball that revealed how business chatbots will evolve in 2020 this is where I see things heading.

ServisBOT’s 8 Chatbot Predictions for 2020

1. The Limits of NLP Technology will Inhibit Growth of Many Enterprise Chatbots

As enterprises dip their toes into the metaphorical sea of machine learning, the public NLP services they use to facilitate this experimentation will quickly show their limits. As chatbots are scaled to handle a greater number of intents and more complex utterances, the performance of the bot will degrade. Customer expectations will increase as technology innovators overcome the limits of public NLP engines and begin to figure out how to solve complex issues such as multi-part queries & requests, for example: “I need a copy of my bill because I have changed my bank and my direct debit needs to be updated”. 

This will drive the adoption of alternative approaches, such as the multi-bot architecture as companies push the boundaries of single bot deployments.

2. Chatbot Security will be an Imperative as Data Breaches Escalate

As bots mature beyond simple question-and-answer use cases and as enterprises push out more advanced chatbots that handle context data, bot security becomes an increasing risk factor and a table-stakes feature for vendors. 

It won’t be surprising to see some more headlines announcing high-profile chatbot-related data breaches throughout 2020. Companies can get ahead of this by deploying security strategies across the complete lifecycle, from bot design and creation to bot deployment and management.

Bot building tools will be required to provide sufficient security measures to ensure that business data is protected at all times, is never aggregated, always isolated, and under the control of the enterprise. 

Chatbot security

Throughout 2019, we’ve seen companies issue more and more rigorous security requirements around their chatbot implementations. In 2020, we expect security to be even more of a focus as organizations try to balance their appetite for more advanced chatbot solutions with the need for end-to-end security.

3. The Lines Between Chatbots and Intelligent Automation will Blur

A chatbot without automation may be able to win a game of Jeopardy or answer FAQs, but the true power of a bot is revealed when it can not only respond to the user but make things happen at speed. The key to a successful business chatbot increasingly lies in the automation of underlying tasks that are required to fulfill the user’s needs. Now, with the opportunity for automation and conversations to be powered by AI, unprecedented levels of productivity and efficiencies can be achieved across complete business processes and customer journeys. 

In 2020, expect conversational engagement to intersect even more with AI-powered automation, marrying together intelligence, conversational engagement, and automation in ways that are truly transformative.

4. RPA Providers will seek to Extend their Offerings to Include Chat

In line with the intersection of AI-driven automation and conversational engagement, we expect to see the RPA market extend highly automated back-office processes to conversational interfaces whereby a user can interact with a chatbot that is integrated with an RPA bot. 

Highly repetitive back-office processes like invoicing, claims processing, payroll, refunds, and many more are ultimately driven by a customer or employee need. It, therefore, makes sense to integrate RPA more tightly with the customer interaction points. This helps further reduce manual interventions, delays, and errors across complete process chains, enabling faster resolution times, higher accuracy rates, and generating other business benefits as they relate to the business case.

chatbots-and-rap
Bringing together conversational engagement with RPA will also help organizations operate more efficiently across departmental silos and deliver a superior and frictionless customer experience.  RPA vendors will be under pressure to add more value to their offerings in 2020 and justify their high valuations.

5. The Uses for Chatbots get More Innovative 

Enterprises are becoming more adventurous with their chatbots as they climb the learning curve, demonstrate real business value from their bots, and avoid the pitfalls of poor bot experience and technology. Already we see clients come to the table with a lot of imagination and willingness to transform their business models and processes using a bot-driven, AI-enhanced, automation-first approach. 

Improvements in image recognition now enable businesses to rethink how they gather information from their customers and/or employees using a chatbot. Lengthy descriptions, form filling, or the need for a scheduled visit from a service provider can be vastly reduced by means of requesting image uploads from a customer. Images or documents can be scanned and relevant data extracted and attached to the system of record, further limiting the need for costly human involvement on routine tasks.

Throughout 2020 we’ll see businesses overturn some core business processes as they apply geolocation, image recognition, speech recognition, and intelligent automation to their bot solutions.  

6. Businesses will Benefit as Chatbots Eat Away at Live Chat 

Because chatbots have the ability to respond well to routine customer queries and requests and can do so 24/7, they have proven very successful in customer service environments where much of this was previously handled through live chat. 

Live chat versus chatbot

It’s not that live chat will die off but, in 2020, we’ll see further erosion of it in responding to routine issues. Instead, live chat will be fronted with chatbots which automate a majority of tasks and human agents will focus on handling higher value or more complex customer issues.  The two will operate within the same ecosystem but their skill-sets will differ.

7. The Open Source Community for NLP will Continue to Grow and Innovate

Public NLP engines have been largely dominated by the big guys – IBM, Google, AWS, Microsoft. However, a thriving open source community around conversational AI has emerged and we expect this to continue to grow, driving even more innovation and advancements in the tooling around chatbot development.

The key driver for this is to allow newer AI models such as BERT to be deployed quickly with better results on top of open source platforms like RASA.  

8. AI Everywhere – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

As AI jumps out of the cloud and into low-cost hardware, everyday consumer goods will become increasingly infused with AI.  Dolls, toys, consumer electronics, and household appliances will all be enhanced with voice recognition, detecting humans, and motion control. 

As for cloud-connected devices, gesture control will gain traction alongside voice for things throughout the home.

However, DeepFake will continue to plague us in 2020.  Policies and elections will be influenced through the likes of it and OpenAI’s language model. Ethics in AI won’t catch up, so bias will abound throughout many AI systems in 2020.

Ai ethics and deepfake

Conclusion

Chatbots are here to stay. Despite some frustrations and failures, businesses are forging ahead with chatbot solutions. 

Why? Simply put, they cannot risk being left behind by not embracing a technology that brings the promises of greater cost reductions, faster resolution and onboarding rates, and higher customer conversion and satisfaction rates. Perseverance will pay off as the galloping speed of innovation and technology advancements will address many of the limitations and failures of early chatbots. 

If I was to choose one industry that has embraced chatbot technology in the last year or two it is the insurance sector. For an industry that is often characterized as being traditional and slow-moving, this is one to watch. Coming into 2020 we are seeing some incredible transformations in insurance business models, driven in part by chatbots. There will be more to come next year.

So hang on in. 2020 will bring a slew of great chatbot stories across many industries, not just insurance.

Launch the new year with a chatbot plan that takes advantage of the multiple business benefits that conversational AI can bring.

Download our RFP template to help build out your chatbot project requirements.

Close this Window