Nov

Towards smarter data - accuracy and precision

                                                   

There is a huge amount of information out there. And it is growing. To make it efficient and increase our competitive advantage we need to evolve and start using information in a smart way, by concentrating on data that drives business value because it is accurate, actionable, and agile. Accuracy is an important measure that determines the quality of data processing solutions.

How accuracy is calculated?

It is easy to do with structured data, because the requirements are formalizable. It is less obvious with unstructured data, e.g. a stream of social feeds, or any data set that involves natural language. Indeed, the sentences of natural language are subject to multiple interpretations, and therefore allow a degree of subjectivity. For example, should a sentence ‘I haven’t been on a sea cruise for a long time’ be qualified for a data set of people interested in going on a cruise? Both answers, yes and no, seem valid.

In these cases an argument was put forward endorsing a consensus approach which polls data providers is the best way to judge data accuracy. This approach essentially claims that attributes with the highest consensus across data providers is the most accurate.

At nmodes we deal with unstructured data all the time because we process natural language messages, primarily from social networks. We do not favor this simplistic approach, as it is considered biased, inviting people to make assumptions based on what they already believe to be true, and making no distinction between precision and accuracy. Obviously the difference is that precision measures what you got right, and accuracy measures both what you got right and what you got wrong. Accuracy is a more inclusive and therefore more valuable characteristic.

Our approach is

a) to validate data against third party independent sources (typically of academic origin) that contain trusted sets and reliable demography. Validating nmodes data against third party sources allows us to verify that our data achieves the greatest possible balance of scale and accuracy.

b) to enrich upon the existing test sets by purposefully including examples ambiguous in meaning and intent, and providing additional levels of categorization to cover these examples.

Accuracy is becoming important when businesses move from rudimentary data use, typical of the first Big Data years, to a more measured and careful approach of today. Understanding how it is calculated and the value it brings helps in achieving long-term sustainability and success.

 

Interested in reading more? Check out our other blogs:

Artificial Intelligence of Chatbots: What Do You Need to Know.

                                                 

While Chatbots have been around for a little while now, their presence is more noticeable thanks to Facebook and Microsoft’s recent advancements.

Initially customers complained about the robot-like experience and the limited functionality of first generation bots and rarely found them useful. The customers were skeptical about how valuable in practice chatbots actually are, which has left recent AI vendors like nmodes with the task to combat the leftover stigma from the poor customer experiences and shortcomings of these initial offerings.

Chatbots, like an IVR?

We’re all used to calling into a contact center and punching numbers into a menu to be routed to the correct agent or service to address our needs. Interactive Voice Response solutions (IVRs) drive this interaction and are basically If/then routing trees that “listen” to the digit entered and “transfer” the user to the appropriate next step. While tremendous advancements in technology have brought voice recognition capabilities, those first generation IVRs were all about automated actions based on prompts.  Enter your account number, press 1 to speak to an agent, etc…

The first generation Chatbots are just like an IVR. They can respond to prompts to progress through a predetermined process or display some canned information like pricing, a contact number, route to an agent, etc., but that was about the extent of it. Still 1stgeneration Chatbots came with 4thgeneration expectations. While these basic functions have tremendous value to a business, the customer expectation is very different when dealing with a phone call vs. a chat session. Consumers have experienced IVR routing for decades whereas chat is still relatively new and is perceived as a conversation with a person, rather than interacting with a machine. Add on the fact that many vendors and consumers mislabeled Chatbots as Artificial Intelligence in the beginning and the expectation of a dynamic, responsive customer experience is even greater.

So it’s no surprise that customers were less than impressed with “Artificial Intelligence” that could only display simple answers and basic information. We were expecting Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey or KIT from Knight Rider, and we got a pixelated PONG instead.

Let’s talk…

Now, Artificial Intelligence has evolved to be integrated into Chatbots to deliver a more powerful user experience.  While these new versions of Chatbots coming out are powered by Artificial Intelligence, AI powered chat also exists independent of bots in some instances. Confusing? Yeah, I was too.

The beauty behind true Artificial Intelligence is its ability to recognize the context of a conversation and respond with relevant, contextual information dynamically. A customer can now “speak” to technology the same way they would hold a conversation and the AI has the ability to “read” the customer’s intent to provide information quickly and efficiently. No more are you limited to a set of canned responses. The AI can reach in to a wider array of relevant information to craft unique responses based on any number of criteria. While in most cases AI is still limited to a few topics per use case, the technology is growing quickly, making almost daily improvements in functionality and customer experience.

What is even cooler is that the longer the AI is deployed, the more it “learns” and improves the speed and quality of responses. So while the scope of AI interactions is limited at first, the maturity curve is quick, delivering an ever-improving customer experience without having to invest in additional people, processes, or technology. It really is like a “growing up” of technology, right before your eyes. 

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CHATBOT PLATFORMS. How to choose the right one?

   
Chatbot platforms are essential tools if you need to build and run a chatbot.
There are many available on the market, big and small, popular and not so much.

Here are some useful thoughts that should help you navigate the complex world of chatbots and conversational AI solutions.

All chatbot platforms can be split into two categories: those that let you create chatbots without any programming, and those that require programming. Now, the idea that you don’t need to possess technical knowledge to build a chatbot seems appealing but the reality is not so rosy. In fact, I have yet to see a professional chatbot created without coding.
Chatbots rely on sophisticated algorithms and advanced knowledge of linguistics. These technologies are so complex that at the moment there are no plug-and-play solutions available. The companies like Chatfuel, Manychat, Flow XO and many others are attempting to fill that void and offer chatbot platforms that are simple in use. The best way to make the chatbot creation simpler is by dropping the need to code them. However this simplicity comes at a price: chatbots made without coding are limited, rigid and in general, primitive.
So to summarize: if you want to impress your girlfriend use Chatfuel. If you need a professional chatbot that delivers on your business goals and provides customer satisfaction use advanced chatbot platforms with programming capabilities.

One of the main, if not the main, tasks of the chatbot platforms is to connect your chatbot to the user interfaces. There are many ways for your chatbot to interface with the world: on Facebook messenger, on the website, on the mobile app, via SMS, on Twitter , on Skype, on Slack, on Telegram, and more. A good chatbot platform should seamlessly connect the chatbot to most of these channels. Chatbot platforms do not make your chatbot smarter. For this you need AI Engines (brief disucssion on AI Engines: http://nmodes.com/entry/2018/03/29/what-are-ai-engines-and-how-choose-one/).

For best results create your chatbot on a chatbot platform, then connect it to AI engine.

One of the top chatbot platforms on the market is Microsoft Bot Framework. It is robust, powerful, with a wide variety of useful functionality built-in. Another good chatbot platform is DialogFlow. DialogFlow has a slightly different architecture in the sense that it is a chatbot platform and an AI Engine all in one interface.

Chatbot platforms can be used to create conversation flow for your chatbot. There are several schools of thought here: some prefer to delegate conversation flow to AI engines. Chatfuel and other tools with the emphasis on simplicity (build your chatbot in minutes, no coding necessary) offer easy graphical interfaces for conversation flow creation. And there is always a reliable option to create conversation flow in an old-fashioned way, programmatically.

Which option to choose? Depends on your chatbot requirements and the business needs the chatbot is expected to address.And if you have questions feel free to ask: http://http://nmodes.com/contact-us/

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