Former executive at Intercom
- Headwinds and tailwinds from recent AI revolution on enterprise chatbot vendors
- Product leaders and likely long-term winners and losers
- Enterprise budget and spending trends for conversation AI software as adoption continues
- Timeline for further commercialisation of generative AI tools
Over the last couple of months, there’s been a lot of talk about AI, specifically related to ChatGPT. What was so revolutionary about the release of this product? Is it a significant technological advantage that has people so excited, or is it more so just the public getting to experience this for the first time?
We know ChatGPT is a leader, at least in the generative AI space. Is everyone going to catch up pretty quickly now in terms of using a discriminator vs a generator, seeing what the company did and being able to improve their own platforms? Are we going to have companies such as ChatGPT and Bard dominating for the next decade or half-decade or so?
How has the roll-out of conversation AI impacted software vendors in the customer service and chatbot space so far?
How many of the existing enterprise chatbot vendors that we traditionally think about, including LivePerson, Genesys and Nuance, have incorporated the new wave of generative AI? How many are still relying on more of the discriminative AI that they formerly used to use?
Let’s say LivePerson comes to market with a fully generative AI solution once it’s worked out some of the computing accuracy issues within 1-2 years. Are we then going to see the number of customer service reps dramatically fall by 75%, and just see a couple as a backup or a second option for people? Or are we further out from actually being able to replace people entirely with these solutions?
Is there anyone that has done a really good job already with AI, will continue to do well over time and be one of the first to come to market with a new AI tool that can double the number of questions you can answer and reduce headcount? Who do you see as the long-term winners here?
We’ve touched on chatbots and customer service, but in terms of other use cases, we’ve seen some of the commercialisation of the tools, people trying to incorporate it into search engines and such. Beyond what we have already seen and heard, what other forums of commercialisation do you expect from the new wave of AI and generative AI solutions?
In terms of the B2B use cases, do you think it’s just going to be selecting new vendors that have incorporated AI to do customer support, marketing and sales? Or do you think a lot of organisations are going to try to develop their own or license technology to do this? How is vendor usage going to trend as AI becomes more important for businesses?
In a previous Forum Interview [Conversation AI – Chatbots – Competitive Landscape & Impact of Macroeconomic Conditions – 22 November 2022], the specialist was talking about Salesforce and how, ultimately, the company and a lot of other large enterprise software vendors are going to have to basically rewrite their entire tech stacks to incorporate AI and make it easier for people to adjust modules, change the UI/UX and just make it easier to use overall. How is that going to work? Are they going to be developing their own AI and incorporating it in, or will they be licensing technology from a company such as OpenAI? How is that going to trend over the next couple of years?
I know new solutions could come to market over the next 3-10 years, but when we say off-the-shelf tools, I think everyone would initially think of OpenAI and ChatGPT. Who else would you put in that category? Who could you use as your core technology and build on top of that to make it more customised and more personalised for your company?
I’ve heard a lot of people are wondering what industries and jobs are going to be the most disrupted by conversation AI. We talked about customer service and how that’s going to work, that if efficiency doubles, probably half of those jobs go away over a period of time. Is that a fair assumption to make when you say, “Efficiency will double and then double again,” that we’ll eventually get to one-quarter less of those jobs? Are there any other particular areas or industries that you think are most notably going to be impacted by this new AI buzz or revolution?
You mentioned the accuracy issues. I think all of us have seen this, either by using it ourselves or seeing the Googlebot make that slight mistake during the presentation that it made, which cost it tens of billions in market cap, which is still crazy. How is the accuracy of these models and platforms going to trend? Is that something they can fix in 6-12 months, as they get more usage and feedback? Or are we still years and years away from saying, “This is going to be 100% accurate every time,” more or less like a Google search, where you can sift through and confirm what you’re seeing?
Sticking with the concept of commercialisation, how much more are organisations going to be willing to pay, or what incremental fee will they be willing to pay, to incorporate generative AI into a solution such as Office or another platform that they have? Are we going to start to see that spending in the short term, or do you think most companies are going to wait for the tech to improve and adoption to increase before they start spending tens of millions of dollars on it?
Are there any specific industry verticals where generative AI would become more effective, or is it mostly within the business segments you mentioned and across all industries?
We talked about a lot of the vendors and how there’s still space for new ones and for current ones to improve. As AI becomes more important, do you think it could lead to a period of consolidation across use cases and creating an all-in-one AI platform? Or do you think we’re going to continue to see people competing individually and all coming to market with this new wave of AI solution?
Do you think it would be the large tech companies leading consolidation, or a group of small companies within their specific vertical or customer segment or industry combining to create a wider customer base while using a better, stronger base of technology?
I just keep jumping back to enterprise chatbot customer service solutions. As this technology is incorporated and as the ROI begins to show up, how do you think spending and demand are going to trend for these types of platforms, specifically within customer support? If they’re able to reduce headcount, could we see ACV [annual contract value] double over the next couple of years for this type of technology?
Who within the competitive landscape do you think is going to be able to capture some of the significant ACV growth, or is it basically everyone across the board? Will it be the case that whatever vendor people are using, they’ll likely all come to market at a similar speed and we’ll all see similar growth?
Given how quickly ChatGPT seemed to enter the market and then Google immediately rolling something out and all of these other solutions popping up, at what speed do you think we’re going to see improvements in the AI space, in terms of an individual such as myself being able to recognise and say, “This has taken a huge leap from the last time I used it”? Is it going to take a lot more years, or are the use cases going to increase within 12 months and we’re going to see more accuracy?
Is there anything we haven’t covered so far, or are there any topics that you think we should spend a little more time focusing on around conversation AI?
When you first saw this conversation AI technology, did you expect people, just the typical public individual, to be as excited? Did you know right away, or did you think that this was going to transform the way people work? Or has this AI wave or buzz accelerated how excited the public has been? Have companies realised, “People are really excited about this. Let’s go spend USD 10bn on a partnership with them”? What’s been your reaction or sense there?
Is there any way to get creative when you think about the AI landscape beyond a company that says, “We’re an AI company. We’re building generative AI”? Understanding this Interview is going to be listened to by investors, how would you be thinking about investing and getting a piece of this AI puzzle?
In terms of adjacent areas, you mentioned that computing and data storage could likely see a huge bump from conversation AI. From what I read, it takes 5x more computing power to create a ChatGPT response than a Google search. Are there any companies in those areas that are going to do particularly well? Could Cloudflare, who we know supplies the computing to ChatGPT, perform well, at least on its core interface? Is there anyone else in that specific category, another adjacency, that you think could see a big bump from this use of AI?
You said that everyone is going to have to adopt conversation AI. It’s like not knowing how to work your computer or a phone, you just can’t do it, moving forwards. What skills could people be developing, whether it’s just a typical individual trying to stay in-tune with tech or a customer service agent? What could they be doing to put themselves in the position to utilise AI, understand how to use it and provide value on top of it, moving forwards?
Is there anything else you want to mention around conversation AI? Are there any other topics you want to bring up that we haven’t done justice to so far?
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