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Future of Conversational AI: Here’s What You Should Know

Azfar Rizvi, Conversational Designer.

The more we understand what drives our situational awareness, consciousness, and creativity, the more we will evolve conversational AI and sentiment analysis with more robust outcomes.

By Azfar Rizvi, Conversational Designer 

“I’ll be back.”  

We first heard this iconic line in the 1984 Hollywood blockbuster The Terminator, and it’s become a part of our collective consciousness ever since. It was mainstream media’s first attempt in depicting a fictional artificially intelligent system (Skynet), thus catapulting the concept of Artificial Intelligence (AI).   

Then the depiction of AI went downhill. At least for a while.   

People started to fear AI taking over the world through sentient neural networks. There are entire television series dedicated to playing on our fears about how antagonistic AI can be. And rightly so – drama and destruction sell more headlines. That’s the realist ex-journalist in me, LOL! As AI continues to fascinate humanity, our understanding of its limits and potential is evolving, and within it, there lies hope.   

Azfar Framing in Action

This year, we finally transitioned from fearing robot overlords to cheering for sentient non-playable characters (NPC). The most recent Hollywood movie, Free Guy with Ryan Reynolds, is a step in this direction. The story starts when an NPC develops self-awareness and strays from its programming. The NPC interacts with elements around itself in the game – it starts to think and feel. While this is interesting to posit, NPCs can’t develop sentience and act beyond their programming without human interventions.   

The juxtaposition of the extremes has challenged us to think about the boundaries in AI. Corollary, these strides have been a significant force behind the digital transformation of businesses and entrepreneurship. We managed to bootstrap humanity’s collective learning with these recent advancements in AI and deep learning, manifesting the true meaning of the term global village. We’re truly connected and have transitioned from merely if/then/else chatbots to contextual ‘Conversational AI.’

ADP: Leading Digital Transformation 

We provide payroll solutions for over 38 million workers worldwide. That means one in six US workers interfaces directly or indirectly with our universe. From a chatbot/conversational AI perspective, it means even more people will potentially interact with A.V.A., ADP’s virtual assistant. That’s where someone like me comes in and introduces Conversational Design (CxD).  

Azfar Rizvi, UX Designer

ADP’s Service Technology leadership makes enormous strides to invest in the right infrastructure and create the right teams, producing trustworthy conversational AI platforms. We’re reimagining AVA to ensure our CxD is inclusive. Our persona aims to be innovative and empathetic, allowing intelligent responses to meet user expectations. Unlike conventional chatbots, ADP’s conversational AI understands the context of conversations and answers scenario-specific questions for users.

ADP provides our clients with the best payroll and HR experience, reflecting our processes and outcomes. Our teams work with internal and external stakeholders to ensure the AVA experience has enough context and intelligence to solve our customers’ problems and help us learn for future iterations of our products. As a CxD and Persona evangelist, I relish the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues and industry leaders, envisioning what AVA could represent to the workforce. For many employees, AVA is their first touchpoint with ADP. I write, design, advocate, and build an empathetic experience for this reason. We want to set the tone right for a great experience from the beginning. 

The Future of Conversational AI  

In one of his letters, Ernest Hemingway wrote: “A man’s got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book.”   

That quote summarizes the journey in conversational AI – with chatbots starting ambitiously and, as time passed, aligning more with market expectations. The CxD universe that was first created by telling jokes during the formative years of chatbots has now segued into more transactional experiences. We are iterating rapidly at ADP, and the learning allows us to create better, more empathetic conversational AI experience with higher engagement levels. While I may have transitioned from narrative film production and journalism, not a day goes by when I don’t think about the quintessential role storytelling plays in  creating  holistic  CxD.    

The chatbot market is projected to grow from USD 2.6 billion in 2019 to USD 9.4 billion by 2024 – with an overwhelming 80% of businesses expected to have some chatbot automation by the end of 2021. According to insights on MarketWatch, “The chatbot market is driven by factors, such as advancement in technology coupled with rising customer demands for self-service and 24*7 customer assistance at lower operational costs. However, lack of awareness about the outcomes of the use of chatbot technology with various applications to restrict the growth of the chatbot market.” 


Azfar Visiting School

Good news: ADP is ready for the challenge! We’re working to humanize AVA, our conversational AI. We will continue to create more empathetic, accessible experiences as we build from the number of experiential and transactional use cases every year. Whether enhancing value around payroll or helping to create workforce management automation through AVA, we are determined to harness AI as a tool to boost productivity and enable even better support to our clients!

A significant part of these #ADPTech enhancements depends on our ability to incorporate sentiment analysis and predictive analytics to intelligently understand our users’ conversations and the intents behind those queries. These enhancements allow us to deliver a more robust solution to standard enterprise functions such as employee onboarding, HR-related questions, and global help desk.    

All this gives me hope for the future of AI AVA’s global footprint allows us to continue innovating and designing more holistic experiences. As one of the pioneers in Conversational AI, ADP is constantly evolving at a pace limited only by our understanding of how the human brain works. The more we understand what drives our situational awareness, consciousness, and creativity, the more we will evolve conversational AI and sentiment analysis with more robust outcomes. As a storyteller who fell in love with AI, I remain enamored by the possibilities of our collective AI future.

In the weeks to come, let’s talk more about the opportunities around AI storytelling, leadership, and mentorship at ADP. I’ll be back! 

Interested in a Conversation Design career at ADP?       

We are hiring! Click here to see what we have available. 

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