Conversational AI: Past, Present and Future

Conversational AI: Past, Present and Future

3 min read

The partnership between Uniphore and ISG, a leading global technology research and advisory firm, is an exciting development in the evolution of conversational AI. Subject matter experts Patrick Ehlen of Uniphore and Wayne Butterfield of ISG have teamed up to present an episode of the Bots and Beyond podcast that explores the past, present and future of conversational automation—and what this collaboration means for contact centers and the customer service industry at large.

Uniphore and ISG Partnership

What brought Uniphore and ISG together? A common goal: optimizing and transforming contact centers and business operations in a wide range of industries through AI, process improvement, automation and customer service strategy. This includes using AI to hear what service agents might miss, such as emotion, context and intent, and transforming processes through automation, including contact center automation, IT operations automation, process orchestration and test automation solutions.

By working together, the partners aim to increase efficiency by shortening call times and enabling agents to handle higher call volumes. The ultimate goal: driving measurable and sustainable improvement in customer and agent experience that boost satisfaction and loyalty for customers and agents alike. However, before discussing what the future of conversational automation looks like, we need to look back at how we got where we are today.

Patrick Ehlen of Uniphore and Wayne Butterfield of ISG on the Evolution of Conversational Automation

During the podcast, Patrick Ehlen, Vice President of Artificial Intelligence at Uniphore and Wayne Butterfield, Partner, Global Lead ISG Intelligent Automation Solutions, discuss the origins and evolution of conversational AI and automation through the lens of Patrick’s early career at Dragon Systems, AT&T and Stanford where he worked on the DARPA CALO AI project, as well as his inspirations, such as the robot Hal in “2001: Space Odyssey” and the bridge of the Starship Enterprise on Star Trek.

As Patrick explains, conversational automation emerged out of the desire for a computer that could listen to a group of people discussing a topic, understand them and create a record of action items. The computer would automate processes that were normally carried out on pen and paper. This early work gave rise to the digital personal assistant. However, the goal is to have a conversation that is like talking with another human being. The natural language processing (NLP) capabilities of conversational automation make this possible.

Patrick believes what excites business leaders the most about conversational automation is how it can enhance customer service and the customer experience. What motivates Patrick in his work with conversational AI is exploring how to add capabilities into conversational systems. For example, using technology to improve the understanding of context and using that contextual data to shape appropriate responses during a conversation.

In this way, conversational AI and automation are focused on human-to-human conversation rather than person to machine. To help with customer service, conversational AI needs to listen to and understand the conversation between the agent and the customer by including context, which could include tone, facial expressions, and hand gestures. This has become increasingly important as the number of remote video interactions continues to climb.

Wayne sees the goal of conversational AI as achieving a conversational interface for business that could monitor all company meetings. Patrick agrees. He believes the potential is there and could be realized in the near future.

Meet the Speakers

Man with wavy hair in a blazer speaking at an event on conversational AI with a blue branded backdrop.

Patrick Ehlen, Vice President of Artificial Intelligence at Uniphore, develops ways to improve Uniphore’s existing technologies using state-of-the-art AI methods. Together with the talented scientists and engineers on his team, Patrick brainstorms on how the company will use AI in the future to forge new paths and do things other companies are not yet doing.

A smiling man with stubble, wearing a suit jacket and shirt, exemplifies the future of AI technology.

Wayne Butterfield, Partner, Global Lead ISG Intelligent Automation Solutions, is an automation pioneer, initially starting out as an early adopter of RPA in 2010, creating one of the first enterprise-scale RPA operations. Wayne specializes in Customer Service Transformation and has been helping Fortune 500 brands become more digitally focused for their customers. His mantra for Customer Support technology is: Right tech, right time, for the right query in the right context.

Get the Full Story on Conversational Automation’s Past, Present and Future

Listen to the Uniphore and ISG podcast to hear how conversation automation evolved and where it is headed.

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