We need a chatbot! Now what?

1998: “We need a homepage!”
2008: “We need an app!”
2018: “We need a chatbot!”

Most know it’s inevitable. Few really know why. Fewer know how.

Every ten years, we seem to leverage new technology driven curiosity. We iterate through discover, pilot, learn. Eventually we end up in sustainable business impact.

My advise is to not oversell the first few projects. Believe in them and enjoy the ride of piloting, but don’t overspend. Don’t kill the bot baby, instead evolve it. Try with real users, real customers, real people.

As with the first homepages (1998) and apps (2008), some won’t see any use and some will even mock. Don’t be the latter. Focus on usefulness and push on.

Some bots today are obviously just simple IF-statements, just as some of the first homepages just were static brochures. Other bots are just a simplified menu system, exactly as some of the first apps. Eventually and if you sincerely focus on making this happen, your bot will deliver on the true cognitive promises of being:

  • really understanding both what you say and mean, in context
  • really learning from its conversations
  • really being able to connect to unstructured and unknown data sources on its own

My advise for the initial few phases:

  • Start with a narrow but business relevant scope
  • Identify what is new and what is not; for example natural language processing is new (compared with apps), context relevance is not. Learn and/recruit for the new.
  • Involve real users / customers
  • Understand the importance of architecture
    • Master data management
    • Omnichannel enabled digital platform, APIs
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with multiple AI/ML/cognitive platforms at the same time
    • IBM Watson, Microsoft Cortana and Azure Bot Service, Google Cloud AI and Prediction, Dialogflow, Wit.ai, Amazon Lex, to name a few leading alternatives

 

… and most importantly, have fun. Life’s too short to now enjoy the ride.

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Gender diversity at IBM InterConnect

I won’t make this into a long post on the importance of addressing the issues of gender diversity, especially in our industry. I just want to make public that I, and many with me, note how well IBM succeeds in putting women experts and leaders on stage, and in the spotlight. This should be normal and therefore, this post should have been irrelevant. (Note: Yes, I see that the photos lack illustrations of racial/ethnic diversity, but I can assure you presenters on stage were of many ethnic backgrounds. It just wasn’t the point of this post.)

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IBM InterConnect – Day 2-3

This is my last day at IBM InterConnect 2017. The past two days I’ve attended sessions including; developer driven innovation with Watson, using cognitive services to help fight cyberbullying, and Blockchain implementations.

For me, the most valuable learnings relate to the inner workings of the Watson services platform, for example Conversation Service, Visual Recognition, Virtual Agent, Discovery Service, Knowledge Studio, Natural Language, Retrieve and Rank, and Tone Analyzer. How this all fit together, the reference model, can be explained by organizing services into:

  • Foundational cognitive skills
  • Higher reasoning skills
  • Knowledge organization skills

… and understand how developer tooling and content tooling relate to each other. On this last day, I’m looking forward to attend the following sessions:

  • Building an Integrated AI Service Desk Agent
  • Roadmap for Next Generation Entrepreneurs
  • Humanism of Technology
  • Watson in Recruitment to Improve Candidate Quality

Below some photos to give you some idea about what it looks like during and in-between sessions!

 

 

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IBM InterConnect – Day 1

First day of IBM InterConnect in Las Vegas has been very interesting. The entire event includes more than 2.000 sessions to choose from. Today, I learned much on cognitive computing and IoT, agile transformation in banking, and Watson IoT for Retail (The Connected Store).

My focus will be on artificial/augmented intelligence, machine learning, cognitive computing, API- and innovation management. IBM has significant research and insights in these topics, and have succeeded in creating platforms that are now available for pilots and implementation. I’ll spin out some of the cool stuff I see, here on the blog.

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Hack for Sweden 2017

Hack for Sweden 2017 is now over and it’s been a privilege and inspiration to be part of the jury. More than 200 participants gathered with the objective to create new and innovative solutions based on open data/APIs from 30 government agencies.

Hack for Sweden 2017 was inaugurated by the Minister of Public Administration, Ardala Shekarabi, and he did a great job laying out his and the government’s view on the importance of open public data. It was streamed live and that video, and many more from the event, can be viewed on Hack for Sweden’s Youtube-channel.

The 54 teams worked through the night, coming up with ideas ranging from saving valuable forests, “Pokemon Go”-styled game for public interests points, solutions for matching immigrants with jobs, pollution warnings, virtual reality based visualizations of public data, and so on. It was not easy to judge, with so many ideas to choose from. Also, there is so much data to get to understand and then match with other sources, so it’s almost as if 24 hours perhaps is too short. Imagine what we could do with just one extra day!

I was very happy to see all ages, from 10-12 year olds and up to 50+ year olds. The gender balance seemed to be almost 50/50. The government agencies were well represented and they went around to the teams, helping them to understand the data and how to use the APIs. I applaud all the employees of the agencies and their energy and passion for open data.

Thank you, Angela Yong (SMHI) and Stefan Beronius (Lantmäteriet), everyone else in the team of organizers. You really managed to create a superbly coordinated event.

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