Special Report by Tony Eades, Chief Strategy Officer and CEO of f Salted Stone APAC.

Once a forecast of innovation, Chatbots, Automation, and Machine Learning are fast becoming a reality in our lives.

The uptake of emerging and existing technologies that enable people to work remotely has sped up off the back of the global COVID-19 pandemic. The growth in usage numbers of video conferencing technologies, such as Zoom, shows this rapid pace of change. Back in December 2019 there were an average of 10 million daily meeting participants using Zoom, since COVID-19 hit these numbers have soared to over 300 million daily meeting participants. No wonder we’re all feeling a little over-Zoomed.

Medical consultations via video call are one of the many utilities of AI technologies, allowing us to access vital services remotely.

Artificial Intelligence is also gaining momentum with a recent global executive survey, finding a convincing 97% of executives saying that their organisation will deploy more AI tools in the next two years than they had prior to the pandemic. Computer scientist, John McCarthy coined the term “artifical intelligence’ to describe “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines” back in 1955, so full adoption of AI is likely a long time coming.

Leading the chase on the AI front are Chatbots, even though they too were first pioneered almost 60 years ago, when Joseph Weizenbaum at MIT first automated conversations with humans. New research commissioned by Intercom found that Chatbots are rapidly spreading beyond the realm of customer support to drive growth at all stages of the buyer journey. In fact, sales are now the most common use case (41%), followed closely by support (37%) and then marketing (17%).

With the global economy facing growing unemployment and a contraction not seen since the Great Depression, the tech giants have been booming as consumer habits turn to the convenience and safety of buying online. Amazon claims to have made $30 billion during the pandemic and added 175,000 to its workforce to meet the increased demand. Global projection of the Chatbot market is AUD$6 Billion industry by 2025.

With so many of us at home, worldwide internet traffic and engagement, ‘covid conversations’ on the net for industries like food products, telecom, pharmaceuticals, internet software and professional services have soared. Ahead of a post Covid-19 world, whenever that will be, brands are re-examining how they interact with customers. With a wide range of automated tasks, from qualifying and filtering visitors’ questions to the right team, to booking product demos, qualifying sales opportunities and engaging website visitors, nearly 3 in 4 consumers expect to encounter chatbots on a website. Interestingly though, only 15% of consumers say that they prefer chatbots to humans for a quick interaction with a company. 

On the other side of the equation, businesses like to deploy Chatbots because…

  1. A Chatbot works seamlessly between sales, marketing, and support. The consumer shouldn’t have to answer the same question three times just because they’re talking to three different teams.
  2. A Chatbot helps your team be more productive. With true productivity features, an AI driven Chatbot can achieve much more than just ask questions 
  3. A Chatbot respects your users’ time. A Chatbot should be genuinely helpful, not distracting or annoying. They should work to set up your human teammates for success.

New York provider of translation management software, Smartling found their website was hard to navigate, lacked engagement and their buyer experience was outdated. Using AI from Drift the company found that automation made answering consumer questions faster, prospects could book a meeting quicker than a form, and the experience now gave interested buyers what they want, when they want it, on their terms. This resulted in a 75% increase in meetings booked, doubling lead to opportunity conversion in 12 months, whilst improving the buyer’s experience.

In a pandemic affected world, we have used digital technology initiatives for preparedness and response. In China, Singapore, Sweden and the US, digital technology is used to track disease activity in actual time from data dashboards, migration maps, machine learning and real-time data from smartphones and wearables.

COVID-19 Coronavirus Charts and Graphs On Digital Display

Tony Eades is an experienced brand strategist, keynote speaker, sales enablement specialist, contributing writer, and customer experience expert. He serves as Chief Strategy Officer and CEO of Salted Stone APAC, and is a featured expert on one of Australia’s leading business TV shows—with 3M + weekly viewers. Tony works with growing companies to develop market leadership authority and deliver measurable ROI across the buyer’s journey. He is passionate about digital marketing and thrives on growing brands, from start-ups to corporate enterprises.