Chatty Thoughts on Chatty Bots

As recently as this spring, we’re seeing an influx of releases of bots in all industries, from lean startups to some of the largest companies in existence. According to VentureBeat, just this week, Microsoft announced that they have a relationship assistant in the works. According to the article and announcement, Microsoft will incorporate a mobile-friendly “relationship assistant” into its Dynamics CRM customer relationship management (CRM) software. This assistant is designed to recommend actions for salespeople to take..”This can make customer service more efficient and improve customer satisfaction”, Nadella said. From the tone of the announcement, the tool is meant to help humans with efficiency, not take their jobs.

Microsoft isn’t the only tech giant to have recently made such an announcement.. Early last week, Salesforce announced the launch of an AI platform, Einstein, that will work within Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud. Salesforce also announced a new research division, focusing on deep learning, led by Richard Socher, formerly co-founder and chief executive of A.I. startup MetaMind, which Salesforce acquired earlier this year. The tone of this announcement is similar to that of Microsoft- these AI enhancements are aimed to help sales and marketing teams to be more efficient, not to replace them. More details can be found in this VentureBeat article here.

The tech behemoths aren’t the only ones releasing business minded bots- some smaller startups are making waves with their work with bots in the recruiting industry. On September 3rd, our co-founder, Shon Burton posted his guest blog post “Why I hate Chatbots” In this post, Burton described a new recruiting AI tool, “RAI” and how he believes sourcers and recruiters will benefit from using the tool. Burton states “It won’t fool anyone into thinking it’s human, but for practical recruiting tasks it’s already quite useful. By combining the practical conversational interface of tools like Siri and Alexa, with a Wolfram Alpha inspired ‘knowledge engine’, we’ve developed a recruiting assistant with which a non-expert user can conduct a talent search conversationally.” This week, we saw a press release:

Also this week, Burton was featured in an interview piece in Fast Company about RAI, specifically focusing on the Diversity Boost feature within RAI, a feature that changes the relevance algorithm within a search, rather than a simple filter, helping recruiters to find a diverse pool of candidates to interview for open positions.

Other new projects to mention are: Mya, which came out of private beta as a job-seeker-facing chatbot to assist with the job application process this summer, as well as an MLconf sponsor: Talla. When asked to participate in this blog, Talla provided a few words:

At Talla we launched a few bots and realized that the bot-as-an-application model is limited. Therefore, we’ve taken our product up to the platform level. Now, our bot is just the UI for an intelligent layer that lives across your HR applications, and can automate many different workflows.

A very simple interface can be used to do many things, like create custom employee onboarding flows that are delivered conversationally, answer basic benefits questions, and send simple polls throughout the organization within a company’s existing chat platform. All of these workflows are based on common core technologies, like automating or scheduling messages, tapping into common data sources, like HR systems, and performing NLP on structured or unstructured text.”

Though these various bots aim to solve different problems that exist in relationship management; whether in sales, marketing, recruiting, or onboarding, they all seem to aim to assist, enhance and raise efficacy, not replace. We’ll keep our eyes out for developments within these mentioned projects.. Stay tuned!

*[Photo: Flickr user interestedbystandr]