IDC forecasts that in 2017 spending on cognitive and artificial intelligence (AI) systems will reach $12.5 billion. Some of these systems will be delivered in the form of “conversational interfaces”; what we think of more generally as chatbots or virtual assistants. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2019, virtual personal assistants “will have changed the way users interact with devices and become universally accepted as part of everyday life.” For this report, Altimeter interviewed 24 enterprise companies, technology innovators, and other experts to gauge the potential risks and opportunities of conversational interfaces. We interviewed industry leaders to identify use cases, design principles, and strategic implications for customer experience, business models, brand strategy, and innovation. Our goal, and a focus of this report, is to help business leaders better understand the implications of conversational interfaces so they can make informed decisions about how to leverage this technology. More important, however, is for businesses to look ahead at the real opportunity: to develop from transactional to conversational relationships, express their brand voice, and become a trusted, indispensable ally to customers.
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