Conversational AI: The missing category
I’ve been tracking the Martech supergraphic for years. As a strategist in the agency world, this resource proved to be a snazzy visual to help my clients understand the sheer volume of systems they could choose from and maintain a pulse on developing platforms and capabilities.
Now as an executive leading Voicify I continue to leverage the excellent work that Scott Brinker and Frans Riemersma did in 2022. Their work is no small fete, with nearly 10,000 software solutions logged across 49 categories.
It’s easy to understand the challenge of tracking and categorizing these technologies. So, it is with a humble tenor that I suggest there is a category that is missing: Conversational AI.
Conversational AI is more specific
Voicify is proud to be included in this year’s research as well as years past. Early placement of ours and other voice solutions have been categorized as Live Chat & Chatbots, this year is consistent with that placement.
While this category is appropriate, it is now over-generalized based on technological capabilities. While live chat refers to a text exchange between humans and chatbots are a text exchange between a human and an automated (usually scripted) bot, conversational AI, or what many people call ‘voice,’ is much different.
It is true that conversational AI can be represented through text: think SMS or a chat window on a website or native mobile app. Its real power lies in natural verbal communication. In its most authentic experience, conversational AI or a custom voice assistant will feel like a personal assistant helping you achieve a goal. Whether that goal is lightweight such as finding information, or more complex, like getting directions to the store from which you just placed a curbside pick-up order, conversational AI is capable of so much more than Live Chat & Chatbots.
In fact, conversational AI generally has core capabilities that speak to its maturity over historic chat platforms:
Custom Wake Words – the ability for the user to verbally initiate engagement with the conversational AI
Automatic Speech Recognition – the ability to understand the spoken word
Natural Language Processing – the ability to comprehend the context and meaning of the utterances offered by the user
Text to Speech Processing – the ability to convert text to audio (speech) as a response
The robustness of a conversational AI platform, like Voicify, can be seen in the inclusion of additional functionality which significantly expands the power of the platform:
Personalization & Decision Engine – the ability to vary content based on business rules
Media & Effects Management – the capability to manage natively or connect to 3rd party systems for media content in support of multimodality as well as trigger actions across a digital ecosystem to benefit the experience
Cross Channel Distribution – enabling the ‘build once, deploy to many’ efficiencies
Visual Conversational Design & Management Interface – making it simple and efficient for non-technical resources to manage the tool
Analytics, Machine Learning & reporting – using data to inform the system and the business
Modules, Integrations, SDKs & Open APIs – creating extensibility either by normalizing repeatable conversational structures or leveraging existing systems to inform the conversational model
When you compare these features and functions against the historic category of ‘Live Chat and Chatbots,’ it becomes simple to see that the space has evolved – supporting trends that the Martech community has witnessed over the years.
In addition to this new sub-category, I also contend that it should be placed in ‘Content & Experience’ versus ‘Social & Relationships.’
My logic is this: Conversational AI can integrate with and extract deeper value from virtually every other category of the platform. From commerce and sales to advertising and promotion, from print to collaboration and beyond. The nature of ‘content & experience’ platforms, in my observation, is to achieve that purpose.
As the Martech map tracks the evolution of business technologies, I think we will see a new category emerge, and I am looking forward to the separation of such capabilities from Live Chat & Chatbots.
You can find the 2022 Martech Map at this URL: https://martechmap.com/
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