Chatbots and AI: An interview with tech guru Avi Ben-Ezra
Tuesday, 09 April 2019
Avi Ben-Ezra, CTO of SnatchBot
In a world driven by web-based applications, where user-experience comes first, companies who deploy the right chatbots see remarkable increases in efficiency coupled with cost reductions.
Research has shown that in the banking sector at least $3.7Billion of savings will occur by 2023. The chatbots created on the SnatchBot platform provide plenty of great industry examples. These bots connect to applications via sophisticated interfaces not only to serve the general public, but also employees within an organization.
Smart bots free up employees’ time to focus on other tasks, while bringing more predictability and standardization into a business. Since adoption rates are so high and considering that companies who do not adopt lose competitive advantage, it is well worth understanding this revolution in technology. We spoke to Avi Ben-Ezra, the CTO of SnatchBot to find out more:
How did SnatchBot manage to create value for enterprises?
We understood that two key ingredients should underpin our technology in order for it to be indispensable: Security and scalability represents the foundation upon which we build. Businesses want to be safe and to roll out better solutions at scale. With these two features, they can confidently roll out significant improvements in a short time.
Is it not tough to be a leader in such a complex marketplace?
We have a responsibility to contribute to the industry, to create trust during this epic shift humanity is facing. SnatchBot is winning on multiple fronts thanks to relentless R&D. We invested heavily in the future so that our chatbots will understand humans much better. They have grown in accuracy over time to the point that now, they often outperform humans. The unique way in which we leverage natural language processing (NLP) with multiple languages, enables us to become a favourite in many countries globally. Irrespective of whether the client is in Thailand, France or Brazil, they can experience a uniform solution in their own language. This works well for multi-nationals and SME’s alike.
Globally sounds interesting. Please name some countries where adoption rates are high and tell us why it is happening?
You can almost see English speaking countries as one, due to the scaled advantage of any learning that occurs with artificial intelligence. In France, Israel and the US we have produced excellent case studies in partnership with our clients: they learned a lot about their business and we provided them with all the tools to do so. The benefit of this level of learning, off course, we pass onto Asia and beyond. I will single out the example of France, where taxes are rather high. When an employer reduces a hundred positions in customer service, they save an incredible amount in government taxes. Please note, I believe there is still a social responsibility by companies to retrain people for other jobs that bots cannot do, which is something that we support.
Q: What other benefits do chatbots bring to different countries?
The environment is often overlooked in this topic. We are a green company. The amount of carbon that is offset when fewer people have to drive to an office car park is incredibly valuable for the environment and emission targets. Whether it is France, India or the UK, all of these countries need to reduce the carbon footprint of citizens. By having more bots managing routine work, freeing humans to be creative, multiple improvements are made, from slashing carbon emissions to saving on taxes. No doubt national economies can also be improved and state organisations too are gaining enormously from deploying chatbots, both in terms of savings but also in delivery of services. Therefore, when we hear of regions that resist change, our concern is that this resistance creates a prison scenario for local economies. One should ask: will they not soon become uncompetitive and fall behind?
Q: With internet security, what are the main benefits chatbots can bring?
Credit card fraud is a big problem in call centers where manual processing occurs. In some countries, fraud levels are higher than others. We envisage a future where humans will not need to ask for card details by phone, thereby slashing fraud as much as carbon emissions. Recently, a large BPO call centre discovered that a complex card fraud mafia had infiltrated the business. To ensure continuity and root out the problem, they moved card processing over to chatbots and limited human involvement to customer service. Humans then had to transfer calls to bots for card processing. I bet the card fraud mafia did not like it, but this is how AI and technology can improve internet security. There are still numerous problems the fintech industry need to resolve: we believe we can help them in the process.
With regards to “Social 24/7” and omnichannel, what will chatbots bring to the communications market?
Companies like ours operate across platforms, wherever the consumer wants to talk to businesses. An organization can now be social, 24/7, with an intelligent chatbot responding to the social communication across multiple social channels, in fact all your favourite channels are represented by one bot. In a world where people message each other on a massive scale and where they prefer to access businesses and organisations via their messaging channels than via websites or phone calls, then omni-channel marketing and communication is essential. Our chatbots enable both since omni-channel communication happens through integration (one bot can integrate with every channel) and omni-channel marketing is far more effective as a conversation than a one-way shout out.
Please run us through the fundamental difference between an app and a chatbot?
Bots are not apps although the operation seems similar from a user’s perspective. SnatchBot reduced the cost of launching a bot to practically zero, or very little in cases where it is bought on our marketplace. Apps, on the other hand are expensive to build, in fact it can cost millions to have an app that people will love and find useful. Here is the best part: bots are transformed by AI and respond according to AI, whereas apps are not.
Change is a constant. Fearing change will not make the world a better place. Countries that are dependent on revenue from BPO outsourcing (India, Mauritius, Philippines etc.) are mainly the ones who will need to re-invent as chatbots will take over that segment. Countries with a diversified economy will only benefit as chatbots are freeing up humans to do the things they love. From reducing carbon footprints, to lowering employment tax and improving efficiency, security and reliability, bots are here to stay.