Paving the way for fluid communication
I think we all know what happened with the ill-fated Tay the Chatbot experiment spearheaded by Microsoft. In retrospect, Tay was a dressed up mechanical parrot that lent itself to processing and repeating the information it was fed. It literally only took a few minutes before Tay turned into a foul-mouthed storm trooper, issues commands and dogma that were as much a surprise to the bot’s programmers as it was to the online community following Tay’s progress.
The playing field for linguistic software isn’t singular. Microsoft isn’t the only athlete coming out of the block, only the most well-known in the public’s eye.
Arria NLG to name one, offers a sophisticated software tool that combines cutting-edge techniques in data analytics and computational linguistics. These capabilities allow the engine to convert large and diverse datasets into meaningful natural language narratives, helping solve the problems of dealing with Big Data.
In short, Arria has made the process of converting data into narrative easy. We have built an AI that does what your human, natural intelligence does.
The dawn of natural language
Natural Language Generation is all about taking data and turning it into written or spoken language. This is indisputably the best way to provide actionable analytics. It’s how we as a species have communicated information and calls-to-action for tens of thousands of years. It’s a finely honed device that evolves as we evolve, and it marks us out from other species. It’s the best means by which we answer the requests “Tell me what I need to know” and “Tell me what I should do”.
Matt Gould, CSO & Co-Founder of Arria NLG feels the resulting problem with Tay could have been prevented with different technology.
“Right now we’re still playing question and answer with chatbots. But there’s still another level until the Internet can communicate with you naturally, until it can come back with a more general inference about the intent behind your question, and NLG is the solution that embodies the required expertise. To understand, conversely, is to be able to infer something from information received– analyzing and extracting insights from diverse data sets.”
Giving the internet a voice
Gould sees Natural Language Progression as a logical step in the progression of the bot marketplace. Comments Gould,
“The issue with today’s bots is their very limited areas of knowledge – these bots must fall back on search engines for anything outside of their narrow capabilities. The Internet is incredibly smart, but bots today are technologically equivalent to a two year-old just learning to speak for the first time. But bots can evolve with Natural Language Generation (NLG) technology.”
Gould feels that current NLG technologies can enable someone to have a free-flowing conversation with a bot, but none of the big tech companies have picked up on the intricacies involved. Not yet anyway.
NLG, explains Gould, “Combines state-of-the-art data science and analytics with cutting-edge computational linguistics techniques, delivering information that is hidden within data and conveying it through natural language.”
In other words, NLG gives the internet a voice without making it sound like a robot.
It provides an automated solution that can take diverse data sources, aggregate their information content, and deliver that content in a way that is immediately accessible. As a result of advancements in NLG, bots in the marketplace will become more sophisticated, useful, and friendly.
The IoT of bots
In the still evolving Internet of Things (IoT), will robots play a role? How do you best integrate AI with the IoD? As more and more of our everyday responsibilities are parceled out to smart technology, it’s not a stretch to see a robotic helper taking the lead: Doing our shopping, preparing dinner or even taking us to work in the morning.
To that end, Gould feels that all of the data gathered by every sensor in the world isn’t worth much if there’s a way of making use of it. Explains Gould,
“The real value that the Internet of Things brings is at the intersection of gathering data and leveraging it. We need to analyze that data, often in real time, if we are to extract its value, so we need an infrastructure for IoT data analysis.
…Bots might play a role in this infrastructure if their UX appeals to users and it can become a more effective way to interact than through a traditional user interface.”
The bottom line: No matter how sophisticated the analysis is of all that data, effective communication is the next major problem to be solved. The Internet of Things needs a voice. NLG can enable bots to provide an automated solution that can take those diverse data sources, aggregate their information content, and deliver that content in a way that is immediately accessible and makes sense.
Offer customers a frictionless online experience with these updates
(MARKETING) Companies of all sizes still have clunky, hard-to-use websites – here’s how to fix that and offer a quality online experience.
The internet has clearly done wonders for retailers and businesses that sell physical products. Ecommerce is exploding and the evolution of various platforms makes it possible for even the smallest of companies to create their own global supply chains with very little upfront investment or cost. But don’t forget about service-based businesses – such as beauty salons, yoga studios, gyms, chiropractors, and massage centers. These types of businesses have benefited tremendously as well.
The internet has given service businesses the opportunity to increase exposure, drive leads, and better engage modern customers in a convenient manner. However, with great opportunities come incredible responsibilities.
If you want your business to be competitive in today’s landscape, you have to offer customers and clients a frictionless online experience, or a so-called omnichannel solution.
Smooth user experience (UX) is what separates successful businesses from average ones when it comes to online marketing and lead generation. If you want to offer frictionless UX to your customers, here’s where you need to start:
1. Understand buyer journeys
“Today, customer interactions are continuous, contextual, highly personalized and ever-changing, no matter if the customer is on an iPad, talking to Alexa, or entering a subway station,” digital marketing expert David Aponovich points out.
The problem a lot of businesses encounter is a misunderstanding of the customer buyer journey. They view it in isolation, instead of as a long-term play.
“When you start to build digital experiences around your consumers’ actual lives and stop thinking in one-time purchases, you’ll be one step ahead of your competitors,” Aponovich continues. “Removing friction? It starts by being where your customers want you and need you to be.”
2. Offer convenient scheduling
No more asking customers to call the office or send an email in order to schedule an appointment. Rarely will a customer remember to do this. And if they do, it creates an unnecessary hitch in the buying process. You need to offer more convenient scheduling options.
An online appointment scheduling resource will help tremendously with this aspect of UX. A tool like SimplyBook.me makes it easy for smaller businesses (with minimal resources) to streamline the scheduling process for customers and clients. Customers can seamlessly move from interest to purchase/scheduling in the same step.
3. Present plenty of visuals
Nobody likes clutter. As you know, minimalism is the best policy in modern web design. If you want to give your visitors what they’re looking for, ditch the superfluous elements and meaty paragraphs. Instead, opt for high-quality visuals that say more with less.
4. Increase website functionality
Your website should be more than a receptacle for content – or even a platform for scheduling appointments. While these are important aspects, the site itself needs to be functional. This could look like selling physical products directly from the site (if you have them) or offering interactive content that addresses key customer pain points.
5. Make yourself discoverable
It’s easy to believe that UX is all about your website experience, but it actually encompasses a lot more than that. If you want to keep your customers happy, they need to be able to find you. Today, leading brands are putting a huge emphasis on social media, online word of mouth, SEO, and PPC advertising. Prioritize discoverability and you give yourself a pretty big head start.
The internet gives your business an opportunity to reach your target market in a manner that few who went before you would have ever dreamt possible. But it’s not enough to simply reach your audience. Once you engage them, you have to expose them to the frictionless online experience in order to drive conversions and grow your brand. Take some time to think about how you’re doing in this area.
Microsoft to become 3rd largest gaming company after Blizzard acquisition
(TECHNOLOGY) Microsoft will not be left behind in the Metaverse. The tech giant plans to fully acquire Activision Blizzard by 2023 for $68.7 billion cash.
Microsoft announced plans to acquire the video game publisher, Activision Blizzard, on January 18, 2022, in an all-cash transaction reported to be valued at $68.7 billion.
The deal gives the tech giant popular game franchises, such as World of Warcraft, Call of Duty, Overwatch, Diablo, and many more to add to its arsenal. This acquisition sets Microsoft up to be the third-largest gaming company by revenue. Microsoft expects the deal to close in the 2023 fiscal year (which begins in July of this calendar year) once the customary closing conditions have been completed along with the regulatory review and Activision Blizzard’s shareholder approval. Both Microsoft and Activision Blizzard’s board of directors have already approved the deal.
This deal comes in hot on the heels of an avalanche of issues surrounding sexual harassment where 37 employees have reportedly left Activision Blizzard according to this article on The Verge. Microsoft states that Bobby Kotick will continue to serve as CEO of Activision Blizzard, and he and his team will maintain their focus on driving efforts to further strengthen the company’s culture and accelerate business growth. Once the deal closes, the Activision Blizzard business will report to Phil Spencer, CEO, Microsoft Gaming.
Phil Spencer, the CEO of Microsoft Gaming, posted both Activision and Microsoft Gaming will continue to operate independently until the deal is complete with Activision Blizzard then all business will be reported to Spencer.
“Gaming is the most dynamic and exciting category in entertainment across all platforms today and will play a key role in the development of metaverse platforms,” said Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO, Microsoft. “We’re investing deeply in world-class content, community, and the cloud to usher in a new era of gaming that puts players and creators first and makes gaming safe, inclusive, and accessible to all.”
Maybe you noticed the not-so-subtle hint regarding the Metaverse by Microsoft’s chairman and CEO Satya Nadella, but it seems everyone is quick to mention to the public and or other companies listening that they are gearing up to bring their A-game to the Metaverse. Whatever that ends up being.
In the meantime, we can predict some of the possible changes to come from this buyout. Microsoft currently has Game Pass, their subscription-based model for Xbox, which recently hit 25 million subscribers. Now’s the time to sign up for the Game Pass subscription before prices go up to match the revamped gaming inventory. Microsoft could potentially lock down new releases and not deliver them on other platforms, i.e., PlayStation, giving them exclusivity and driving subscription sign-ups.
Whatever ends up happening, Microsoft is making big moves to not be left behind in the gaming world or the Metaverse.
Want to save snippets of a Zoom meeting? Listener makes it possible!
(TECHNOLOGY) Listener lets you screenshot or bookmark important sections of live meetings, as well as curate a playlist of snippets, to share or playback.
We live in a very computer-mediated world where the bulk of communication is done virtually. Many of us spend a great deal of time – whether for work or pleasure – on video calls connecting with people that we’re unable to meet with in person.
Zoom became the unofficial mascot for the pandemic and has shown no signs of going anywhere. So naturally, people are looking for ways to put this to even more of an advantage – like by creating messaging extensions to utilize in lieu of live meetings.
Now the folks behind Listener are getting in on the action by creating Listener for Zoom.
The new tool allows users to bookmark important moments of Zoom calls in real-time and easily turn long recordings into bite-sized video clips.
As founder Nishith Shah puts it, “Zoom meetings just got more productive!”
Listener allows users to do a myriad of things, including live bookmarking to create short video clips; ability to transcribe your entire meeting; edit video clips by using transcripts instead of struggling with video editing tools; share video highlights with your team; create playlists from video highlights across different Zoom meetings to tell powerful stories; use projects to organize your meetings and playlists.
Founders say that Listener is designed for pretty much anyone who uses Zoom. In early testing, the founders found that it is especially helpful for product managers and UX researchers who do customer interviews.
They also reported that early-stage founders have been using Listener to add powerful customer videos to their investor pitch decks. It is also helpful for recruiters and hiring managers who search transcripts across hundreds of hiring interviews to remember who said what and to pass on important clips to other people in the interview process.
The tool is also beneficial for teams and hiring, as customer success and sales teams create a knowledge base with Listener to train and onboard new employees. They also use it to pass on customer feedback to the product teams.
This could also be great for clipping video elements that are appropriate for social media use.
On January 11, 2022, Listener was awarded #3 Product of the Day on Product Hunt.
Listener for Zoom is free while in Beta. The tool works only with licensed (paid) Zoom accounts.
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