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2022: The Dawn of Next-Gen Conversational AI?

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Read more about author Shridhar Marri.

The 2021 tech world was as busy as it has ever been, thanks to the continued challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. And this is particularly true for conversational AI.

From insurance to retail, businesses are doubling down on their technology investments and broader digital transformation efforts as they try to adapt to the expectations of their customers during this new age. And with the proliferation of voice- and text-based technology, more and more companies are beginning to turn to conversational AI as a way to both automate processes and provide more personalized experiences.

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The conversational AI market is projected to be worth in excess of $18 billion by the year 2026 – and a tremendous amount of innovation is set to stem from this market over the next several years – which means 2022 will likely be a watershed year for growth.

With that in mind, below are a few ways in which conversational AI is set to shake up the AI world during the year ahead.

Proactive, Predictive, and Prescriptive Becomes a Priority

Tremendous strides have been made in the capabilities of virtual AI assistants thus far – particularly over the last 18 to 24 months ­– as digital has become the primary channel for brands and their customers. Nonetheless, the conversational AI technology of today still has room for growth. For example, today’s virtual assistants are only reactive and are not capable of maintaining a humanlike conversation, thus limiting personalization and overall interaction success. With that in mind, now that the fundamental building blocks of conversational AI are in place, expect there to be a real push among tech providers to make their assistants more proactive and predictive. Granted, we may not see perfect humanlike interactions for a few years. However, 2022 could be the year where a significant amount of groundwork is laid in this regard, and we begin to see heightened experiences begin to appear.

Multi-Modal Conversational AI

Despite more and more voice-based devices popping up in homes around the globe, conversational AI is still predominantly text-based, with only a small percentage of voice penetration. However, as voice engagement grows, more and more onus is being placed on technology providers to make their virtual assistants more voice-friendly and even multi-modal. Customers have become accustomed to a seamless experience where they can engage with brands across devices – and on their own time – and thus, want a similar experience when it comes to assistants. Therefore, brands who are able to offer this type of functionality the quickest stand to have a huge edge in customer acquisition and retention. So, expect this to be a big area of focus in the conversational AI world moving forward.

Conversational AI and IoT

Traditional service businesses are not the only ones that are looking to jump on the conversational AI bandwagon, as consumer and durable goods brands are also looking for ways to enhance their products by adopting the technology as well. Home appliances such as TVs, microwaves, refrigerators, home security systems, and air conditioners are all becoming more and more connected through innovations in the Internet of Things (IoT). It is only a matter of time before they will become conversational and will be controlled through voice or text from anywhere in the world.

Moreover, automotive is also expanding its use of conversational AI. Automakers such as BMW and GM have already integrated Alexa directly into some of their vehicles, and we can expect more to do so in the near future. Connected cars are still very much in their infancy, which means it is one of the most exciting spaces to watch in terms of conversational AI moving forward. So, definitely watch this space.

Conclusion

2022 is shaping up to be just as hectic as 2021 in terms of customer experience. However, with the continued growth of conversational AI, we will hopefully begin to see many of the ongoing customer experience challenges we have seen over the last couple of years finally get ironed out.

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