I went back to San Francisco in the Silicon Valley where I could attend many conferences and exchange with local start-ups.
Here are the 5 trends I have chosen to share with you for the end of the year 2017. Trends that you need to keep an eye on and begin to integrate gradually into your digital strategy.
Bots are so 2016!
2016 was the year of bots, the year in which apps were threatened to disappear to give the place to intelligent robots living in the cloud and answering any of your requests using natural language.
In 2016, if you were in a conference in the Silicon Valley, you had to go to Messenger to have the schedule of the sessions!
In 2017, in the very same events, you are requested to scan this good old QR Code and download the event app. Yes, one of these so-2008-apps!
Are the bots dead? Certainly not! But for sure they did not find their market as quickly as it was announced.
Expectations have now been reduced to something more realistic: especially with a focus on some cases in which bots really have an added value over apps (customer support, additional notification channels, …) and a more pragmatic approach to interactions (buttons rather than natural language).
There are definitely new generations of bots coming, a little bit less sexy, but way more useful!
And… don’t forget about vocal interfaces! Alexa and Google Assistant are having a huge success at the other side of the Atlantic.
AI, AI, AI!
This year, everything is about AI, and unlike the 2016 hype of the bots, the excitation around AI is really meaningful!
Walmart, The New York Times, TripAdvisor, Samsonite, Airbnb, GoPro, everybody is leveraging AI to enhance (not to revolutionize!) their services.
The main usage is to build advanced recommendation engine.
Among other successes, The New York Times says they’ve been able to go from a national newspaper to an international one thanks to personalization, TUMI (the brand owning Samsonite) states that with the right recommendation it is no longer needed to apply discounts on suitcases and some chain restaurants have up to 70% conversion rates when they send the right message at the right person at the right time!
You struggle with your customer support? AI can increase the efficiency of your team by 30% by managing for you the low-value interactions.
You’re selling trips to your customers? AI can automate up to 60% of your work.
Maybe you’re enjoying a lot http://captionbot.ai with your friends during alcohol-ized evenings, but chances are that you still don’t know how to apply that kind of feature to your business…
Trulia, a real estate platform in the USA, is using Computer Vision to create precise descriptions of the pictures they have on their website: sure it’s a kitchen but is it a kitchen with a bar, an opened kitchen, an 80’s kitchen, etc.?
With that information, they analyze the behavior of the visitors, determine for example which kind of kitchen they look the more at and recommend houses/apartments that match these criteria, even if they are slightly outside of the stated price range and geographic range.
Relavance and emotions, your new KPIs when doing AI!
If you’re doing AI, you need to make sure that the service you’re creating is hyper relevant!
For example, if you’re TripAdvisor, saying to a user that this New York hotel is loud is completely meaningless. Everything is loud in New York!
Or let’s say you’re building an AI personal assistant, sure if the user is talking about pizza it might be a good idea to recommend him the best pizza restaurant in town… but should you do so if the complete message of the user is “I was so ill because of this pizza last night”?
Also, don’t forget about the importance of creating an emotional link with your customers: Coca-Cola has been making POCs during two years before releasing its new digital/bot-powered vending machines. The goal of all these experimentations: being sure they’re creating an emotional link with the customer while selling the Coca-Cola.
Last but not least: online and offline, humans and machines!
It’s not online vs offline, and it’s not humans vs machines. It’s online with offline and humans with machines.
Walmart and Amazon are both investing heavily to merge as much as possible their online and offline experiences so that those two channels are truly working together at the service of an exceptional customer experience.
For each customer relationship case, in one hand there’s automation with AI and in the other hand there’s the necessary human aspect. AI cannot be relevant enough without the human. AI is at the service of the human, AI is an assistant of the human, and it’s certainly not here to fully replace us.