The tech revolution and its impact on the B2B world

With new-age tech transforming the ecommerce landscape, B2B players are investing in AI, VR, Big Data and leveraging social media to personalise the shopping experience.

India’s improved capabilities in creating better internet accessibility and the availability of affordable smartphones are leading to ground-breaking transformations in the tech-ecosystem. Discussions on the latest tech innovations in the mobile applications universe are now common even among semi-urban and small-town India, where internet penetration is undergoing phenomenal growth.

It is likely to witness a growth of 400 million internet users before 2022, of which growth from tier II and III cities shall constitute 56% of India’s ecommerce market.

Understandably, this opens up several avenues for businesses across sectors to invest in technology and tech-based B2B opportunities, as they begin to appreciate its resourcefulness in acquiring new customers.

Further to this, the fact that digitisation has led to the creation of a robust Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem, enables processes in the B2B marketing space as well, which is proving to be a far more economical and effective prospect with the promise of better returns.

Influence of tech disruptions on businesses

Businesses realised the potential of moving their processes online, with workplaces across the world organising almost all of their communication through the internet, be it through emails or virtual interactions between clients.

Additionally, sales and marketing teams in organisations are being trained and up-skilled internally, so that they become more agile and get familiarised with tech advancements such as in Artificial Intelligence, machine learning, digital sales, augmented and virtual reality, etc., going beyond the conventional mode of operations. They stand to benefit from it especially now that the COVID-19 pandemic is pushing people towards remote processes.

Sellers and marketers now have to stay on top of the constant changes being brought in by emerging tech and focus on the personalisation aspect of services, often expected by consumers. Such demands can be met only through wider application of advanced solutions such as AI-based response mechanisms, which now handles traffic on websites and apps of volume and magnitude unprecedented in history.

Marketing on social media and its impact

The average retailer is opening up sales by moving from offline to online processes, as B2B marketers indicate the digital space as an opportunity to tap into a new base.

Social media has disrupted every business sector around the world, with smartphone users in India spending an average 3.5 hours per day in 2019 on several apps like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and online games and other Messenger services.

This has increased by 24% in March 2020 to 4.3 hours per day, owing to the lockdown and work from home scenario. Nevertheless, it is much less than the average 4.9 hours/day spent by Indian millennials on their phones. Furthermore, active viewership is also experienced by vloggers, bloggers, and YouTube channels, etc., which have now become a hub for B2B marketing.

To attract eyeballs, affiliate marketing networks help publishers such as blogs, websites to interact with brands, helping all stakeholders get on board a single platform, allowing them to explore money making options through links provided to followers and subscribers.

A traditional marketing campaign would have incurred much higher costs compared to a digital marketing campaign as it often relies on macro-level market intelligence, which is an expensive resource for small- and medium-sized businesses. Digital marketing is likely to bring higher RoIs for the same investment.

In the US for instance, traditional and digital ad spending was pegged at the same level of around $110 billion in 2018, with digital ad spending projected to triple that of traditional ads by 2023 to almost $300 billion.

On the other hand, we are witnessing the large-scale success of targeted online B2B marketing. User preferences are recognised through search patterns and clicks based on Big Data analytics, which is a game-changer in the MarTech sector.

Not only is it a cheaper resource, it also provides organisations with nuanced data, which allows them to specifically target their ads based on the information collected from users’ conversations with chatbots, which is then used to create user profiles.

For example, if a user searches for office stationery or converses with a bot about it, the data collected about these preferences helps office supplies companies to direct their ads towards those specific users looking for those products. Every time he/she uses mobile apps or websites while browsing, these ads are shown on these portals as they are able to decipher user behavioural patterns to market their products.

The growth of such messenger services and influencer channels on them help the B2B processes flourish just through the integration of AI-driven chatbots, which directs customers to buy their respective products just as a customer service executive would do.

Ecommerce, Industry 4.0 and other tech transformations

If we were to take the entirety of the global ecommerce sector into consideration, the B2B retailer ecosystem has out-flanked the average annual growth of B2C retailers in recent years by almost six times in 2019, according to a B2B ecommerce report by Statista.

More businesses are now opting for online platforms to deal with vendors due to tech disruptions in supply chain and logistics as well as the trust and reliability over an established ecommerce website.

With tech teams simplifying user interfaces, the learning time for those who depend on offline B2B interactions has been eased. Personalised customer service has realised more B2B retention, as they are now allowed to improvise with their product offerings, making them stand out in the eyes of the consumer through their catalogs and portfolios, and creating an online identity for their brand.

Beyond the existing software innovations, state-of-the-art product tech is being developed. In the augmented and virtual reality space, unique solutions such as product demonstrations through wearable virtual headsets, augmented reality platforms by manufacturers showcasing personalised experiences, are seeping into the B2B sphere. This is opening up possibilities for experiential marketing.

Several corporate behemoths are eyeing these developments as an opportunity for brand recall as they now work with their B2B partners to develop distinctive product messaging to their consumers.

People will now have the option to check out products as if they were standing next to it, saving commuting time and speeding up purchases. Several other innovations are possible in opening up B2B opportunities as the behaviour of the consumer shifts predominantly towards non-physical forms of purchasing.

Businesses will interact with buyers and vendors to enable online catalogs, databases, digital marketing, etc., making it easier for people to buy from the comfort of their homes.


This article is written by Rohit Sakunia and originally published here


Conversational AI for President: The Covid-19 Chatbot Use Case

Our interactions with government agencies hardly ever find their way into our dinner-table conversations, yet they play a huge role in our everyday lives.

From applying for benefits to renewing our driving licenses to paying our taxes, we turn to our governments — local, state, or federal — to accomplish our most important tasks.

Providing services to citizens is, in essence, the sole purpose of any government agency and the measurement by which these agencies are scrutinized, evaluated, and ultimately funded.

Now, more than ever, citizens expect easy access and seamless communication with their government agencies at all times. Gone are the days of long, straggling lines in brick and mortar offices; in 2020, citizens conduct almost all of their interactions with government agencies digitally.

A survey conducted by BCG found that 80% of respondents use their local government’s websites to access real-time public information such as weather or traffic, and 65% are using them to make payments for taxes and fines.

So, how are governments fairing in delivering the level of service their citizens demand, and what role is COVID-19 playing in getting them there?‍

Game Changer

In a 2017 Deloitte survey, 73% of state and local government officials believed their organization’s digital capabilities were behind those in the private sector.

But COVID-19 changed the paradigm, or more so, expedited processes that would have presumably taken decades to transpire otherwise. As state governments across the nation received millions of urgent queries from concerned citizens, eager to learn more about shelter-in-place restrictions, reopening policies, case counts, and more, a highly efficient, scalable, and easy to use solution was needed.

That solution turned out to be conversational AI.

At the time of writing, 75% of states have launched chatbots to help agencies answer unemployment and COVID-19 questions. 50% are now using a chatbot on their unemployment insurance websites.

Why did this happen?

Source: NASCIO

Texas Workforce Commission’s Virtual Assistant ‘Larry’ Source: Texas Workforce Commission

Conversational AI: A Catalyst for Customer-Centric Service

To explain how and why the spike in the adoption of conversational AI took place across the board, one needs to consider the use cases it fulfills for government agencies:

1.FAQs, Alerts & Information: Government agencies handle thousands, if not millions (depending on size) of citizen queries a day. Unfortunately, many agencies find themselves understaffed to handle the sheer volume of requests they receive, leading to an endless cycle of backlogs and disgruntled citizens. A 2018 OPM report states that “gaps in staffing levels were hampering performance or placing performance at risk as well as causing stress for overworked employees.” A conversational AI virtual assistant can divert this pressure and act as the agency’s ‘digital front door,’ handling frequently asked questions, repetitive tasks, and more. It can even automate proactive outreach to citizens with relevant information and alerts, thus eliminating a considerable number of unnecessary queries and calls.

2.Taxation, Billing, and Employment: As of May, more than 40 million Americans have applied for unemployment benefits. One can only imagine the amount of paperwork and bureaucracy that accompany such an uptick in claims. As I previously mentioned, 50% of state agencies have already implemented a conversational AI solution to handle these applications, and for a good reason. A virtual assistant can replace obsolete forms with efficient, conversational flows and navigate tax-payers to the proper paperwork, guide unemployed citizens in applying for benefits, and easily collect billing information.

3.ID and License Renewal: It’s no secret that many people consider a visit to the DMV to be a less-than-ideal, time-consuming endeavor. A 2014 Mckinsey Center for Government report found that the average CSS (Citizen Satisfaction Score) across 15 states’ DMVs was only 34. This score can be significantly improved by funneling citizens away from long lines at DMV locations and moving a portion of the interaction online. A virtual assistant can fast-track the often sluggish pace of identification and license renewal for automobiles, state ID, businesses, and beyond, saving citizens time and effort while converting more renewal payments.

Source: McKinsey Center for Government, PUTTING CITIZENS FIRST: How to improve citizens’ experience and satisfaction with government services, 2014‍

4.Find Services, Programs, and Locations: No matter their size, all municipalities offer various services and programs. From job fairs to extracurricular activities and cultural events, citizen satisfaction scores are often directly correlated to the quality of programs and the ease in which citizens can enjoy these opportunities. A survey by Booz, Allen, Hamilton consultancy found that 56% of citizens would like their municipalities to make it easier to find information online. A virtual assistant ensures a steady flow of digital traffic to critical services and programs, quickly providing relevant information.

‍5.Schedule and Confirm Appointments: Although many tasks can now be accomplished online, from time to time, citizens are obligated to show up in person for various appointments, days in court, and committees. Conversational AI enables end-to-end online booking with governmental agencies using natural language, automating appointments, and logging relevant information to government databases.

‍Here to Stay

According to the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO), all 75% of states who have implemented conversational AI on their digital channels intend to continue using it even after the pandemic subsides. Amy Glasscock, Senior Policy Analyst, NASCIO, writes:

“Not only have most states tested the waters now, it seems that chatbot technology is also up to the challenge. Utah said that they had been looking at and testing chatbot technology for several years and noticed that many chatbots fell short of providing an optimal customer experience — but had seen the technology improve significantly. They said they will continue to monitor developments so that their chatbot can provide the best customer service experience possible.”

‍With a surge in online traffic and a reliance on local and state services that isn’t slowing down, government CIOs and IT executives across the country have now been placed in the driver seat of their organizations, small and large, with the goal of accelerating digital transformation. Achieving that type of change is a road that leads through conversational AI.


This article is written by Israel Krush and originally published here



Chatbot Developers Landscape 2020 | Best Marketing Agencies That Build Bots Today

With messaging apps on the rise the world of chatbots grows, the niche strengthens, many agencies added chatbots to the list of services and established on the market.


The market of chatbots is projected to grow

Looking back at 2017’s Landscape, we can see how the United States is still leading in the world of chatbots, how quickly New Zealand and the United Kingdom grow and how rocks the market Australia. Some European countries, like Germany and Spain, gain momentum by offering bot development services as well.

Chatbots becoming increasingly prevalent day after day. The chatbot market size is projected to grow from $2.6 billion in 2019 to $9.4 billion by 2024.

Chatbots for every business

If look closely, we can see some agencies focused narrowly on a specific niche like real estate or restaurants and make inimitable bots for a lead generation or food delivery service.

On the other hand, the majority of marketing agencies (off-the-cuff, Bold City Bots, Growth Reach Marketing, Rolaxit) make bots for different niches like small business, e-commerce, hospitality and more… Digital agencies like that ready to help almost any business with chatbot development and deployment.

Some agencies go even further and offer a variety of chatbot services. For example, Mother of Copy is a bot marketing and copywriting agency, they create chatbots and humanize them with unmistakable text.

So how many agencies build bots today?

The answer is: “There are many awesome chatbot developers and digital agencies on the market that know how to make good ROI and generate sales to their clients utilizing bots. Some of them are even winners of ChatbottleAwards, with a big portfolio and credibility”.

Please meet developers that DO build bots for different niches and types of business in 2020 all over the world!


Conversational AI: The Future Of Customer Service Beyond The COVID-19

Businesses are recognizing the need to leverage conversational AI to provide satisfactory customer service experience.

In 1956, the term artificial intelligence (AI) was first coined and used to solve mathematical problems. In the early 2000s, the advancements in AI were exponential, and today, it has application in almost every single aspect of our lives. If the 1980s were the “AI winter,” 2020 marks the beginning of an AI heatwave.

Last week, the International Data Corporation (IDC) released a report forecasting that worldwide spending on AI will double and reach $100 billion by 2024. The IDC projects that retail and banking sectors will be the biggest AI spenders and with a particular focus on businesses leveraging AI to improve customer service. This hardly comes as surprise given that businesses are already seeing ineffective customer service during the COVID-19 pandemic impact their bottom line.

Businesses across a variety of sectors are using conversational AI to help improve their customer service experience. This will be easier said than done because not all conversational AI technology is created equal.

Call volume and consumer expectations during the pandemic have risen.

Making the Caller Feel Heard using Conversational AI

People have a basic need to feel heard.

Being on hold for extended periods takes away from the experience even if satisfactory service is eventually provided. Conversational AI is built on the concept of responding to the exact utterance of words the caller is using. Through the use of conversational AI, businesses can leverage natural language processing and machine learning to create a human-like interaction that allows callers to speak freely, as opposed to having to sayapre-determined set of phrases.

Ensuring that the customer and the virtual agent are effectively communicating requires a complex set of processes and sophisticated technology that understands meaning and context which is key to allowing the customer to speak naturally. A highly sophisticated conversational AI technology solution incorporates the understanding of different languages, accents and intent. Additionally, it can switch between subjects at any point during the conversation and has unstructured, context-sensitive memory, and understanding.

Communication preference

A generational divide in communication preferences is more obvious than ever.

Millennials and Gen Z grew up in the age of Siri and are likely to opt-in for a digital customer service experience.

People who are less technologically savvy are more willing to stay on hold to speak to a representative. Businesses need to find an effective way to communicate with all customers. AI-powered omnichannel capabilities enable consumers to communicate with a business through their preferred channel of communication (IVR, text, phone, webchat, smart speaker or social media)and have a seamless customer service experience. An advanced omnichannel virtual assistant needs to be developed only once and can be deployed across any customer communication channel.

Sector-specific challenges

Conversational AI can be leveraged for the needs of a particular sector, which is then adjusted to meet the likely requests of the customers of the business in that sector. That means that a virtual contact center would have the ability to recognize the vocabulary that is more likely to be used in banking as opposed to in healthcare.

More sophisticated conversational IVR solutions leverage advanced self-learning AI capabilities to capture multiple intents and increase the routing accuracy of a caller’s request. The technology can be trained to remember and understand dynamic and indirect references frequently used in a sector or a line of business.

So, to serve customers effectively, a conversational AI solution must be tailored to a specific business or a sector. Only then can the technology be implemented to understand and confirm a customer’s request and respond to it.

AI can help protect businesses and consumers from fraud in addition to sustaining consumer confidence in the business. Phone channel fraud in particular has increased 350% over the last 4 years.

Although every organization is susceptible to fraud to an extent, conversational AI can add a layer of protection through the use of passive voice biometrics. Passive voice biometrics can verify a person’s identity by creating a consumer voiceprint which reflects the unique sound of that person’s voice. This capability is important because scammers are increasingly able to bypass traditional caller verification methods such as passwords, security questions, and one-time passcodes sent via text or email.

Beyond the security capabilities, the combination of AI and voice biometrics can shorten the time a consumer spends on the phone by 70 to 80%, saving businesses significant resources they cannot afford to lose during the pandemic.

There have been significant strides in innovation and the application of conversational AI solutions up until now but the pandemic is accelerating the investment in the sector.

Businesses are recognizing the need to leverage conversational AI to provide satisfactory customer service experience. However, companies must first identify conversational AI capabilities that best meet the needs of their customers and their business. We all stand to benefit from deploying AI to communicate better globally and this is our opportunity.


This article is written by CHRIS ADOMAITIS and originally published here