Growing Use of Chatbots and Virtual Assistants Ushers in New Conversational Graphical User Interfaces

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Enterprise-scale businesses are finding that conversational chatbots and virtual assistants can automate recurring workplace business tasks, presaging what ABI Research believes will be a major evolutionary shift in graphical user interfaces (GUIs).

More than 90,000 developers have signed up and joined Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft’s chatbot development platforms this year, ABI highlights. As a result, ABI predicts that market evolution will take place in three successive phases:

  • Launch of proprietary enterprise solutions
  • Common developer tools on competing platforms and then
  • At-scale deployments and the proliferation of third-party software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions.

Developing the automated machine learning software and tools that underlie and support chatbots and virtual assistants isn’t cheap or easy, but corporations are finding that the savings in time and costs associated with using them can outweigh corresponding development costs, according to ABI.

“While the amount of savings that a chatbot can provide an enterprise is difficult to measure, the use of automation and predictive capabilities will undoubtedly enable current business models to be augmented,” ABI research director Jeff Orr elaborated.

“The value might be in customer satisfaction, in training methodologies, or in system deployments; but the overall benefit is clear. The interfaces create a new way for brands to engage with audiences and for businesses to simplify employee tasks.”

These messaging platforms are changing the way teams and groups of workers can communicate and collaborate, as well as replacing carrier-based SMS and MMS texting among carrier customers, the market research provider outlines.

Most chatbot platforms focus on supporting customer service, but a lot in the way of experimentation is taking place with regard to conducting marketing campaigns in order to better identify prospective new customers and build brand affinity. Budweiser, GE, Nationwide Financial, Nissan, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, USAA, Vodafone and Whole Foods Market number among the leaders experimenting with chatbot technology ABI has identified.

Virtual assistants are automating the recurring tasks employees commonly engage in, ABI finds. These include: interactions to do with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems and business-line software, including common enterprise business software applications and packages from Microsoft, Oracle, Salesforce, SAP and others.

According to ABI, automated machine learning reduces the time and cost virtual assistants require to train to perform common business tasks and functions, which can amount to as much as 18 percent of the cost to implement an ERP system. That, in turn, can result in savings of more than $100,000 for a large enterprise-scale business.

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