Embrace AI now, or risk being left behind by more agile digital upstarts

Embrace AI now, or risk being left behind by more agile digital upstarts

Robert Woolliams

November 21, 2016

5 Min Read

Earlier this year we shared a discussion we had with Andy Peart, CMO of Artificial Solutions, who told us more about the company and its award-winning solution Teneo. We recently caught up with Andy again, on the heels of a global research study announced by Artificial Solutions, regarding mobile users preferences for interacting with natural language on their devices.

Andy Peart is CMO of Artificial Solutions, an international business specializing in Natural Language Interaction (NLI) - a form of AI-technology that allows people to talk to applications and electronic devices in free-format, multi-modal natural language.  The company’s Teneo NLI development and analytics platform enables sophisticated natural language applications to be created in record time without the need for specialist linguistic skills.  Since the company was formed in 2001, it has implemented hundreds of projects globally in 35 languages that are used by millions of people every year.

Andy is responsible for the strategic positioning of Artificial Solutions in the wider natural language and AI marketplace. With over 25 years experience in managing marketing operations for sector-leading software and services companies in the UK, Europe and US, he excels in creating effective campaigns that help to accelerate the growth of the business. Andy established his career with engineering software specialist PAFEC and went on to hold executive marketing management roles at software companies including ACT, Kalamazoo and Magic Software. He was CMO at London Stock Exchange-listed Mediasurface, where he was part of the executive management team that led various successful acquisitions and the subsequent sale of the company to Alterian. He went on to oversee marketing operations at Alterian as VP Marketing and joined the senior management team of Artificial Solutions in 2010.

A regular speaker at industry events including Mobile Voice Conference, LT-Accelerate and IA Conference, Andy delivers insight about current NLI implementations, the challenges businesses face and the future of natural language.

AI Business asked if Peart could tell us a bit more about this new study?

"Absolutely!" Peart said. "The study was done by analyst firm Creative Strategies, and it queried mobile users on their behaviors and preferences with voice assistants. The results weren’t surprising to those of us who work in AI, but they were a real shock to our enterprise customers."

What did the study find?

"One of the most impressive statistics was that more than two-thirds of mobile users enjoy talking to their devices, and they want that experience replicated at home and in the car," Peart revealed.

"Forty-nine percent of respondents say they are using natural language interaction more than ever before, with 40 percent saying they use it daily, and respondents across the board agreed they would use it more often if it offered greater functionality and better conversational accuracy."

AIBusiness was impressed with Peart's news, saying that it sounds like, despite some of the criticisms, AI conversations aren’t going away?

"Quite the contrary", Peart begins. "Users were asked where they would like to see more conversational features and the top answers included the car and home, but also in areas like digital and communication services, travel and banking."

"This is proof positive that in the next 12 months, enterprises of all shapes and sizes are going to want to deploy AI-powered digital assistants to meet growing customer demands and expectations."

How has this been received on your customers' end? Are they frustrated with their interactions?

"I’m not sure frustrated is the right word, but customers definitely would like to see improvement", Peart says. "As the study shows, 70 percent of respondents wish their voice assistant understood them better, while two-thirds say they would increase their interactions if they could speak more naturally.

"That’s why we have worked so hard at Artificial Solutions to build a solution that allows the user to converse naturally - in their language, dialect, accents and mannerisms. Teneo is the only application that speaks 35 different languages - including some of the most traditionally difficult to program such as Japanese, Chinese and Russian."

Was there anything about the survey that took you at Artificial Solutions by surprise?

"Much of the survey results were what we expected, though it was nice to see them in black and white", Peart said. "This is the feedback we have heard in the marketplace for some time, and have been working with enterprises to offer solutions that address their digital transformation needs and meet the demands of the always-on consumer."

However, there was one thing that Artificial Solutions did find particularly interesting, and that was the fact that people are three times more likely to interact with a voice assistant through their primary messaging app (i.e. WhatsApp or WeChat), than a dedicated on-board assistant such as Siri or Cortana.

"In other words, users aren’t interested in leaving the apps they use most. This is significant for the enterprise, as they can enhance customer engagement by delivering a conversational experience directly through their app."

Given the results of the survey, what do you think is on the horizon for AI and natural language interaction in 2017?

"We absolutely believe enterprises must embrace AI technology now, or risk being left behind by more agile digital upstarts," Peart says.

"We predict a greater adoption of AI technology across the board, and consumer expectations to skyrocket as more industries embrace digital transformation and deliver highly personalised, real-time customer engagement."

Peart believes that it is an exciting time to be in the business of artificial intelligence, "The rubber has finally met the road as they say - and so much of what has only been imagination is coming to life."

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