Conversational AI: The First Step to Interacting With Your Data
Conversational AI has absolutely transformed the way we interact with our data. If you are yet to experience this as a consumer or business user, then you’re in for a real awakening. Having a conversation with website data as a customer can simplify your decision making process while asking complex questions to your business data can help you find instant answers. These are two practical use cases for conversational AI that can be adopted off the shelf. Let us explain how this is possible.
December 12 , 2023 by Nidal Zoghbi & Paul Wozniczka
The utilization of Natural Language Processing (NLP), Machine Learning, and Deep Learning is rapidly evolving the interactions between humans and machines involving data. This article will dive into exploring the definition of conversational AI, how it helps users and organizations with data interactions and the benefits that it presents to organizations, and how Vectara can help. By the end of this article, you will have a much better understanding of how conversational AI works and its undeniable potential to impact your business.
Our adventure will start by defining conversational AI and telling you how it enhances data interaction. Moreover, we will serve you a number of use cases we have experienced across industries from around the globe. Finally, we intend to help you discover the “wow” factor to inspire you to take action.
What is Conversational AI?
Conversational AI enables humans to have conversations with machines where the computers understand, process, and respond to human language with valuable outcomes. The development of conversational AI has grown from rule-based systems in the past to the present complexity offered by NLP, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning.
This evolution of conversational AI began with early programming languages that slowly developed into rule-based chatbots. Machine learning brought a revolution that allowed computers to learn from the data and continue to evolve their knowledge and response quality. Today’s conversational AI systems, like ChatGPT, leverage the power of deep learning to enable machines to understand human input and respond with human-like qualities.
Three core elements have been driving Conversational AI: NLP, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning. NLP helps machines understand the nuances of human language. Machine Learning offers pattern recognition through complex algorithms. Deep Learning, which is a subset of machine learning, uses neural networks to simulate human decision making processes. These core elements work together to breathe life into Conversational AI.
Intelligence-powered conservation enables organizations to carry out more natural interactions, such as answering questions, providing recommendations, and even predicting user’s needs based on historical data. Add in user-friendly interfaces and these organizations extract the maximum value from the data.
So, why is this important in modern-day data interaction? The answer has been staring at us all along the way. From the era of big data to data analytics, to the proliferation of machine learning and artificial intelligence in recent years; we have had the 5 V’s thrown at us every day: Velocity, volume, value, variety, and veracity of data. Conversational AI brings you the convenience of serving you the answers you want to questions on a platter while deflecting the unnecessary deluge of data that has amassed itself over the decades.
Selective hearing? Of course, we want the answer “right here and right now” and let’s move on to the next thought of the day. Now, if this is customer facing data, then you have simplified all your website content into a pinpoint response, providing an excellent customer experience. If this is internal business data, you have just provided your specialized staff with the exact knowledge they need to do their job efficiently and accurately in the workplace. We’ll elaborate on the business benefits shortly.
Interacting with your Data
Conversational AI provides a game-changing tool transforming how organizations perceive and interact with their data. By streamlining real-time data retrieval and enhancing contextual understanding, these AI conversations communicate with us in ways we could have only dreamed about a few years ago.
Real-time Data Retrieval
In the modern age of digitalization, data becomes useless if it’s not immediately available at a moment’s notice. Conversational AI is able to streamline this process in real-time and transform the traditional time-consuming process into a result-driven conversation that only takes a few seconds. How does it work? You give the chatbot some input and the system gets the answers back to you in no time at all!
Enhanced Contextual Understanding
Conversational AI takes no breaks. It breaks down complex queries and delivers results at crazy fast speed and helps you make informed decisions quicker. Conversational AI does not stop at simply retrieving data. The combination of NLP, ML, and DL enable it to understand the context and respond to user queries with dazzling precision. Then do not forget that it has the capability to adapt and learn new data over time. The end result is an ever-evolving powerhouse of information retrieval that provides a personalized user experience in just about any domain.
Is it secure?
Utilizing robust security frameworks will protect sensitive data in these advanced interactions. AI systems provide the flexibility and adaptability to be tailored to your specific requirements. GenAI platforms are like any other data-centric platform that has been adopted by the enterprise and as such, they need to provide security, reliability and privacy for customer data. Vectara has invested early in the security of its platform and product features to present itself as the trusted GenAI Platform for the enterprise. Ask us more about security certifications.
Getting started is quite simple. Thankfully, ChatGPT has set a precedent on how easy it is to have a conversation with data on the internet. We intend to give you the same experience, yet with your own subset of data in a secure environment. Simply select a number of documents that are related to a topic. For example: 10 business, legal, compliance or education documents. Drag and drop them into a free Vectara trial. No technical skills needed whatsoever. Within an instant, you can literally have a conversation with these documents in the same manner you would have a conversation with a mate in the office. On most occasions, if the data is relevant to your profession, it will produce a “wow” moment.
For more enterprise-wide projects, it may be more than a few documents, the platform offers a range of options for ingesting data, from a no-code interface to a complete library of APIs. Deciding to start the conversational AI journey is a process that each organization takes at its own pace. It involves assessing your needs readiness and understanding the full scope of steps required to implement the solutions. Vectara makes it easy for you to ingest data and onboard.
Assess organizational readiness
Before integrating conversational AI into the business, the organization must assess its readiness. This assessment involves evaluating data management practices, the current IT infrastructure, and the willingness of employees to embrace the new technology.
Steps to integrating Vectara’s solutions
Vectara can guide you on the journey of integrating conversational AI into your business. We will help you determine the system’s prerequisites and outline the full process. Each part of the process requires special attention to the organization’s unique data needs and addressing them appropriately.
- Plan your data ingestion: which data do I want to ingest, what part of the data will be used as text for retrieval and what part will be metadata used for filtering, and how often does data refresh need to happen
- Define the user interaction: where would the users interact with Vectara GenAI results and how can that user interface be integrated into your other enterprise applications
- Execute a POC with a small portion of the data ingested into Vectara to evaluate the results for your use case and tune Vectara to produce the best results possible
- Measure the results of your POC and iterate to improve and further tune the Vectara system
- Launch to production with the full dataset and integrate it into your internal systems
Training and optimizing the Conversational AI system
The AI system requires training to understand the system better. It’s like having a new employee start in your organization. The training involves feeding historical data and query patterns to tune the system specifically for the organizations requirements. The process also involves optimizing speed, improving comprehension, and fine-tuning responses. You really want the end goal to be a more personalized experience for your users.
Monitoring and continuous improvement
Organizations evolve and so must the AI systems within them. Frequent monitoring helps ensure high performance and mitigating issues as they arise. The truth is that Conversational AI is not just a “get started and then walk away” experiment. Because data is constantly being added to your organization’s infrastructure, you want to monitor that the data is handled properly and securely.
Benefits and ROI
Provided an organization has found the right use case for conversational AI, we will argue that the business benefits and Return on Investment (ROI) from interacting with your data in such a lively manner should be a “no-brainer.” It is quite straightforward to pinpoint the benefits and quantify the return on investment. As mentioned, given the right use case, the benefits are instant and the returns are attained in weeks. A senior banking executive once said to me: “Nidal, if your technology can guarantee us a ROI within year one, then the CIO wants to hear about it.” I call for all CTO, CIOs and business leaders to prioritize conversational AI in its two main areas: customer facing and internally for specialized employees.
The gains are not just financial either. Faster responses mean faster resolutions and improved productivity. Queries that take humans hours to resolve now might be resolved in minutes. By reducing operational costs you are increasing your savings which you can then invest in other parts of your business. Employees are then enabled to perform higher-priority work because some menial tasks are taken care of by the Conversational AI.
The efficiency gains from transitioning from a google keyword search to a chatgpt semantic search on the consumer side can now be transitioned to your business. The apparent outcome is the efficiency in knowledge discovery and acquisition. If the conversational AI is in the form of a customer facing Q&A or chatbot, then this efficiency translates into elevated customer satisfaction, ease of doing business, more impactful decision making relating to your products and services and eventually higher conversion rates leading to increased productivity levels. This has made conversational AI for customer facing websites and applications a business priority and some of the first Generative AI use cases adopted to date.
Internally, efficiency gains are a result of faster knowledge acquisition and the ability to find quicker answers to simple or complex workplace questions. The efficiency levels of a specialized employee doing research & analysis type work, onboarding of new staff, performing back office duties, operational duties and customer facing duties are reported to increase. Answers are attained faster, with more relevance, better insights and with enhanced creativity leading to employee efficiency. Question and Answer use cases have been very effective and impactful to businesses across the board.
Now that we’ve addressed the efficiency gains and its impact on customers and employees, one can easily deduce the cost savings in the following areas: Lower cost of lead generation and customer acquisition; lowering the cost associated with customer support; lowering the costs of time-to-market or production; lowering operational costs in back office functions; lowering the cost of onboarding new staff and the list goes on. The vast majority of customers who have adopted Vectara have realized some form of cost saving depending on their targeted use case. It is rare that technology can provide the business clear cost savings from the get-go.
Improved user satisfaction and engagement
Conversational AI helps you resolve problems quickly because you get fast answers to queries. User satisfaction and engagement will increase if problems are being resolved. This improved engagement also increases interaction with the organization’s data which can then provide more metrics back to the organization to gain user insights and understand areas of improvement in much more depth.
Measuring Success and ROI:
Success can be measured from the perspective of meeting business objectives and measuring key performance indicators (KPIs). For conversational AI projects, most success metrics evolve around improving customer satisfaction, reducing operational costs, gaining a competitive advantage, increasing revenue and improving productivity. These cannot get any more crucial for businesses across the spectrum, from established enterprises to start-ups.
To elaborate, improving customer satisfaction can be measured by retention rates, customer feedback, net promoter scores (NPS) and customer satisfaction score (CSAT).
Operational efficiency is a matter of optimizing process, resources, and time to achieve company goals. Conversational AI can help impact response times, cost per contact, first contact resolution, and resolution time itself. All these success metrics are measurable.
Finally, we come to revenue generation, which to many is the ultimate form of measurable success. Conversational AI can lead to quicker customer decisions, loyalty, and retention. It can help create new revenue streams or improve ways of interacting and nurturing customers.
The above success metrics can make it possible to measure the profits resulting from implementing a conversational AI project. The other side of the equation to complete your ROI is the cost of the technology itself. We are pleased to announce that Vectara has a friendly commercial model that helps customers derive excellent value from the platform at a minimal cost.
The price is a factor of data storage (MB) and number of queries/month. As of the time of publishing this article, the entry point for small businesses or start-ups can be valued at U$6,030 per annum. This subscription affords customers with 335 MB and 67,000 queries/month. It can be used across multiple use cases. Unlink other providers who have endless compute, language models, fine-tuning models and embedding models, Vectara has a simple commercial model that helps customers attain a high return on investment (ROI) from the inception of the project.
How Vectara Can Help
Great question. Many of our users benefit from the easy-to-use interface and follow three simple steps:
- Step 1: Create your data store and give it a name
- Step 2: Add your data: drag & drop files or use a complete library of APIs
- Step 3: Test the relevance of answers in the Console. Then build your Conversational AI application and start getting real value from GenAI
Our team can help you with quick start guides, common recipes with Vectara APIs, platform overview and ideas to help you with a successful proof of concept.
For more risk-averse customers, our team would be delighted to engage in a comprehensive customer journey program to help with ideation, business alignment, starting a pilot, quantifying your returns, and helping you innovate and go live with conversational AI.
For startups, we have a Startup Partnership Application that allows us to help reduce their time to value by providing some financial concessions. Apply here.
To recap, the speed of innovation in generative AI can give your business a competitive edge by conversing with your data and giving your data a seat at the table. The power of Large language models has made it possible to use an answer engine or chatbot to have a normal conversation with your data. This can unlock amazing value for customers and employees alike. This results in exceptional customer service, business efficiency and leads to productivity in the workplace. We can help you de-risk any concerns you may have around data security and privacy to help you get started.