Chatbot Watch: August 2016 Roundup

What’s new and news in the world of Chatbots? Here are a few articles discovered recently, as of early September, 2016.

Chatbot Roundup

– Curated and Summarized Reads
Article #1
Why WingStop is Betting Big on Chatbots 

Kevin Fish of WingStop has written an article published in VentureBeat that reads a bit like a pitch to the C-suite, albeit – they are in the F-ing space y’all. Getting into bots at the brand level has my esteem. While, I’d love to hear more about the particulars, (to really test this thing out) and to have a patient, long-view chat with Kevin about their vision, plan, and results – the article provides some insight into their plans on developing Wingbot (which has actually been difficult for me to find) and for reaching millennials ‘where they are’.

Here are a few quotes from the article:

Wingstop provides FAQs and an ordering system in the bot, which is what millennials are demanding.

chatbot-wingstop

Restaurant brands have it particularly tough when compared to top-of-mind apps like Facebook, Netflix, Pandora, email, photos, and videos. The space occupied by daily-use apps makes it increasingly difficult for a less frequently used food-ordering app to earn that prized spot on the home screen. That doesn’t mean mobile apps don’t have a solid place in ecommerce strategy; rather, it just reinforces that brands must continue to find innovative, additive ways to fuel the growth of their digital ecosystems.

Facebook is calling the shift toward chat an “evolution of conversation,” and they presented a multitude of statistics earlier this month to support that assessment. The one that stands out the most? In July, the company surpassed one billion active users on Facebook Messenger. The rise of this and other chat-based platforms, like Slack, is a clear indication that the most convenient way of communicating is informal conversation and chat. The rise of chat as a transitory typed digital medium mirrors the succinctness of a quick phone conversation, as opposed to a carefully crafted email or formal meeting.

Article #2
What the Guardian Has Learned from Chatbots 

Apparently, the Guardian (newspaper) has tested a chatbot that helps readers determine what to cook. A nifty little bot, the Sous Chef enables users to provide a list of what’s in their cupboards and refrigerators and the bot will provide them recipe ideas based on the ingredients they have.

Hear tell, the recipe bot was a test to gather information and insights to help construct another bot that the Guardian plans to release.

More on Chatbots  

 

The Role of Sensors in the Food Industry Internet of Things, Predicted Scenarios

What might the future of the food industry look like given the impending probabilities of the Internet of Things? Here’s an interesting article that aims to answer ways artificial intelligence may reshape the food industry. 

Here’s a key bit of the article:

Food decisions could become simple confirmations. Confirmations of health-algorithm derived recommendations, hyper-personalized based on data from our DNA, stress levels picked up by sensors, and observed interactions with various foods. And hopefully your personal favorites.

I’ve talked with this author and plan to get a copy of the survey results when they publish.

So, while that article makes some very interesting predictions, this next article does well to illustrate practical scenarios for how sensors work, and may help power the IoTs. 

It provides some great examples and use cases on the role sensors can and will play in the evolution of artificial intelligence, robotics, and the Internet of things.

That article provides technical and philosophical meanderings on how it sensors can be used to innovate artificial intelligence and the Internet of things.

It takes the position that humans are the ultimate sensing ‘machines’ and that they can / should be used as models for how to improve manufacturing and other robotics tied to IoT – via sensors. Pretty wild stuff.

If Rephrasing Your Goals Can Increase the Likelihood You’ll Reach them/ Then You Should

The Harvard Business Review recently shared 4 Tools to Help You Identify the Skills You Need to Grow, wherein article author Dana Rousmaniere provides a lead-in and jump to a nifty self-assessment tool.

Prior to the assessment, however, Dana makes this lasting observation:

According to research, we fail to achieve our goals 50% of the time. But motivational science shows that phrasing your goals as if/then statements can increase the likelihood of reaching them.

She goes on to suggest, “If/then statements prompt action by taking advantage of how our brains are wired. Stating “If it’s Monday morning, then I will sit down and plan out my week” creates a trigger in your brain so that when it is Monday morning, you automatically know that it’s time to plan your week.”

See more of this article, including the assessment.

 

Take care.

On Google: Local Business Reviews Shakeup & AMP Landing Pages

Local business reviews have become an area of discussion again for the search giant. On August 4 Google announced that “food- and drink-related searches will now return reviews from top critics and include best-of lists”. Beyond web searches, the Google (search) app is also seeing an update when it comes to how local business reviews are handled.

Here’s the rub:

Google has been featuring specific critics’ reviews – arguably – in an attempt to provide relevant and yet qualified content based on user interest. (Sure, it’s helpful to get reviews on places, right?)

A bit of contention, however, was added to the mix as Google’s list of local business critics included Zagat (a Google owned company), and it did not/ does not include the likes of Yelp, or TripAdvisor.

This obviously is/ was a slight to the Yelp and TripAdvisor crowd (in their eyes), outcry or possibly a tinge of conscience has since compelled the search giant to make the August 4 announcement to open it’s list of critics’ reviews (even to Yelp and TripAdvisor critics) if users apply for the qualification.

Arguably, this is a clean set of moves. Or, do you agree with Yelp CEO that it’s a monopolist play on Google’s behalf? What do you think? Tell me below.

Google AMPed Up

Another entry into the news of late for Google includes the addition of landing pages as a content type that can qualify for being shown as Google AMP content.

Here-to-date AMP pages (or accelerated mobile pages) have been limited to news article or blog related content types. Yet, there’s incentive to make more of the web instant.

Blog1

As Media Post points out, About 40% of consumers will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load — and still, in July 2016 the average U.S. retail mobile site loaded in 6.9 seconds, according to Google data. It’s no wonder that Google estimates that 40% of those navigating to a landing page from an ad will likely not bother continuing to the page and instead click away.

About 40% of consumers will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load — and still, in July 2016 the average U.S. retail mobile site loaded in 6.9 seconds, according to Google data.

The latest update and announcement to include landing pages as AMP pages, further qualifies and suggests a continued path for likely adoption.

I anticipate that the number of page types allowed in will continue to grow. It’s possible that other page types – say, sales pages, or functional pages such as navigational or directional pages could be added to the list.

Aside from speculations, we know, Google continues to refine and redefine what it serves up to users in SERP – rich cards are a good example of how the engine and SERP continue to evolve. (Rich cards are an evolved form of rich snippets announced in May of 2016 – for more on that see – Introducing rich cards.)

That’s it for now.

Thanks for reading. Don’t forget to tell me what you think about what you think below. You do have an opinion about that, right?

Take care.

Prepping for IoT: How Blockchains Thwart Security Concerns

For those interested, The Next Web offers a pretty convincing forecast of the future of the Internet of Things (IoT). 

In a recent article regarding interest the Department of Homeland Securities has in knowing more about Blockchain technology, the author points out a potential connection that both government and business have in using Blockchain technology to secure and support IoT innovations.

Here’s a snippet from the article: 

The blockchain, for those unfamiliar, is a new type of database developed alongside the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. It has become even more popular among security experts and tech firms, because it has the ability to verify transactions autonomously, making it a “permissionless” and public system that doesn’t need to rely on secure logins or passcodes.

A Blockchain database, “is a distributed database that maintains a continuously-growing list of data records secured from tampering and revision.”


A “permissionless” and public system that doesn’t need to rely on secure logins or passcodes.

It’s potential for unlocking the IoT, by covering the security issue so many legitimate concerns about, is what makes this technology so interesting.

Someone responding to the article put it succinctly: 

“The Blockchain tech will solve one of the major issues and fear people have when it comes to IoT – security and protection of data.”

The DHS aren’t alone in getting excited about blockchain technology. Developers are said to have already begin pushing new products to the blockchain.
Investment companies are also weighing in. Gartner and IDC separately forecast 26 and 30 billion dollar investments in IoT via smart devices over the next 5 years.

Last year (early 2015), IBM published proof-of-concept research study on the proven potentials of blockchain technology.

Samsung and IBM imagine how a washing machine could become a “semi-autonomous device capable of managing its own consumables supply, performing self-service and maintenance, and even negotiating with other peer devices.”

As companies, investments, and developers get more involved, it is becoming more clear that the blockchain’s very nature as a secure encrypted and autonomous network could help empower other smart applications to also be linked, autonomous, and secure – thanks to the Blockchain.

See more on the potentials of the Blockchain, or the aforementioned article, DHS looking to link to the Blockchain