Chatbot technology has been on the rise across a number of sectors for some years, with industries from HR to insurance using them to boost customer engagement by building them into apps, live chat, email and other functions. A
survey conducted by Oracle found that 80 percent of companies are already using chatbots, or plan to deploy them by 2020.
We look at how CIOs are using chatbots in their organisations.
Read next: How CIOs are using AI and machine learning
February 18, 2019
1. Vodafone Head of IT Delivery Ajit Dhaliwal
Vodafone is using chatbot technology to digitise customer experience. In 2018, the telecommunications firm began connecting its systems to third-party products through APIs, which were introduced by Head of IT Delivery Ajit Dhaliwal.
Chatbots and digital assistants were two of the main technologies that gained the most traction, so Vodafone decided to launch its own chatbot on IBM Watson.
The chatbot, named TOBi, was the first one launched by a UK mobile provider. It was designed initially to respond to customer queries via Vodafone's online web chat service, and has since progressed to offer account information and advice on price plans.
"The use of the chatbot has far exceeded our expectations in terms of customer advocacy but also in terms of sales conversions," says Dhaliwal. "We were very honest with customers to tell them that they were talking to a robot and not trying to hide the fact that it was a digitised journey, but customers loved it. They love the ease of simplicity,” he adds.
According to Dhaliwal, TOBi provides double the conversion rate of the Vodafone website.
Read more: Vodafone Head of IT Delivery on digitising the customer experience
2. Allied Irish Bank CIO Tim Hynes
Allied Irish Bank (AIB) CIO Tim Hynes has begun adopting artificial intelligence and chatbots for customer support and the identification of tax deduction errors.
AIB started working on using chatbots in its HR systems and call centers in 2018. This was to streamline the communication between employees and customers.
Adopted in conjunction with humans, the chatbots are used to intervene when staff require further information on subjects like the new interest rate on a particular loan.
The chatbot is also able to monitor customers' financial stability and the weather in their area, helping with those that may struggle to pay the mortgage following any damage.
"By using AI what they're able to do is get ahead of it," said Hynes. "They don't have to allocate capital, they don’t have to engage these expensive processes, they don't annoy the customer, and frankly what they do is enhance the brand, because the customer says 'hey, if I'm having a problem, this bank is on my side'."
Read more: Allied Irish Bank CIO Tim Hynes explains how AI can help CIOs now and in the future
3. N Brown CTO Tim Price
Tim Price, CTO at UK retailer N Brown, oversaw a series of innovations in 2017 that included new chatbots.
"One example is the mobile app. Last year, amazingly for a retailer we still did'’t have a mobile app, because we thought our mobile web experience was good enough," Price said.
"The innovation took eight weeks, which I think is amazing for a mobile app and it was built with none of the features of the website," he added.
Part of this transformation saw the adoption of chatbots, used to respond to customers quickly and effectively.
"My vision here is, while our customers are loading the dishwasher at home they could 'Alexa' what's in their basket," he said. "Take it to the next step with a bit of AI integration and we are doing this. You can start to learn what you like, your preferences, what sizes you've returned, what sizes you keep and what fits well. Therefore, through Alexa we recommend clothes without you seeing them," he added.
Read more: N Brown Group CTO Tim Price on innovation and being competitive in online fashion
4. Aviva International CIO Fin Goulding
Aviva International CIO Fin Goulding led the company on a journey to digital and cultural transformation as a way to tackle complex challenges.
The CIO adopted AI, IoT and other emerging technologies to track changes in 2018 and sees the intersection of the technologies as a way to deliver the best innovation across the insurance firm.
"So it's the Internet of Things, AI, natural language processing - all these things combined that will give you that insight, not on their own. At the moment they are on their own, people are not actually pulling this stuff together cohesively," Goulding said.
With interest in 'Alexa-type technology' Goulding, who owns both an Amazon Alexa and the Google Home, believes that the rise of virtual assistants and chatbots will eventually lead to the death of the internet browser.
Read next: Aviva International CIO Fin Goulding interview - Bringing Agile flow to 'Jurassic' insurance sector