How Sitecore 9 Can Make Conversational AI And Virtual Assistants Work For You
Depending on your viewpoint, possibly shaped by some classic science fiction movies, artificial intelligence is either the logical next step in human technology or the cause of humanity’s inevitable downfall. Whatever your view is, we can all agree that AIs are becoming ever more present in everyday life. And nowhere are they more visible – or, rather, audible – than in the use of conversational AIs.
Conversational AIs are just what the name suggests. They are artificial intelligences that can make conversation with their user. Whatever their names, be it Siri, Cortana, or Alexa, conversational AIs have already become omnipresent, assisting users in everything from controlling the electronics in their houses to more mundane things like giving weather reports.
2017 saw an immense increase in the use of conversational AI, with more than 35 million Americans expected to use a voice-activated assistant device like Amazon Echo or Google Home at least once a month. More than 60 million are thought to use an assistant like Siri or Cortana at least once a month. And the future of the market is even brighter. 2018 is expected to be “the year of the voicebot”. Some predictions claim that as many as 30 percent of all interactions with technology in 2018 will be conversation-based.
What this means for marketers is that it could be potentially fatal to ignore this phenomenon, as it is unlikely to go away anytime soon. Some companies are even creating their own AIs. For instance, banking giant Bank of America and office supplies retail chain Staples have been talking about launching their own virtual assistants based on conversational AI. Not to mention the myriad of chatbots that companies are integrating into their websites.
With the introduction of the new xConnect service layer as part of the Sitecore 9 CMS platform launch, Sitecore made a multitude of new APIs available, allowing you to integrate data from plenty of new sources into your customer profiles in xDB, including data collected from interactions with conversational AIs. This data can be created without the user actually visiting your site, but will have just as big an impact as an interaction on the site itself.
Imagine a customer sitting on their couch at home, asking their Amazon Echo or Google Home device for the newest offers your company has for them. Depending on what they say or look for in their conversation, you will know more about them. Is he in the market for some comfy new pants? Is she looking for a new dress? Are they interested in financial products or in consultant services? All their inquiries go through xConnect and straight into your xDB, powering the personalization you can offer them on their future visits to your website or their future conversations with the AI. The same can be done based on conversations with Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, or a chatbot – for instance on Facebook’s Messenger.
What you need aside from a Sitecore installation is a platform that powers your conversational AI capabilities. These are currently hitting the market. One example is the AI platform developed by German startup Cognigy. Interactions with all kinds of conversational AIs can be designed and analyzed with such a platform, creating the data you need for your customer profiles. Where do you want the conversation to go? What suggestions should the assistant make? Having made these decisions beforehand, the AI, using machine learning, can take over. So whether the user talks to your Facebook messenger bot about your opening hours, asks Alexa about specials you have on offer, or interacts with your very own virtual assistant, they create data that you can use to cater to their every need and make them feel heard and understood – all thanks to Sitecore and conversational AI.
Contact us for your free Sitecore project estimation today! Our certified developers will tell you exactly how you can get the most out of the platform and its conversational AI capabilities.