"The role of analytics in chatbots will differ from traditional web and mobile analytics."

Arte Merritt, Co-Founder & CEO at Dashbot.io will be presenting at the Virtual Assistant Summit in San Francisco, 26-27 January and will explain how analytics in chatbots will differ from traditional web and mobile analytics, as well as how to use analytics to increase engagement, acquisition, and monetisation. Additionally, Arte will share the insights and learnings from the data Dashbot.io is capturing.

I caught up with Arte ahead of the summit to discover what has driven his work with virtual assistants, what he thinks are the main factors enabling recent advancements, as well as his predictions for conversational agents in the next 5 years.

What do you feel are the leading factors enabling recent advancements and uptake of virtual assistants?

Conversational UI/UX is the future of human computer interaction. The Amazon Alexa is a great example of this. My co-founder Jesseoften tells this story of how we used to see the videos of two year olds swiping on iPhones and iPads, now with his two young kids they're talking to Alexa - "Alexa play the happy song... Alexa play Star Wars..."

All the major players are opening up their platforms - Facebook opened up messenger, Apple opened iMessage, Microsoft opened Skype, Amazon opened Alexa, and Google is building an Alexa competitor. The brands are right there along side them building bots on these platforms. The users are already there as well - Facebook has nearly 1 billion users on Messenger.

What do you feel is essential to future progress?

Discovery. In the case of Facebook in particular, it's hard to find bots or know what already exists. Anecdotally, I have a demo bot on both Facebook and Kik. In the case of Facebook, it only had ~30 users after nearly two months, whereas on Kik, it had nearly 15,000 users after two weeks - Kik has a bot store, Facebook doesn't.

In the cases where NLP is used, that needs to improve over time as well - or how bots handle the "I don't know" responses. Paths to monetization are important as well. In the case of conversational chatbots, being able to complete a transaction entirely through the bot is important.

What developments can we expect to see in virtual assistants in the next 5 years?

With conversational interfaces, in the short term, we should see the major platforms launching bot stores, if they don't already have one, adding monetization capabilities, and providing multi-user bot interactions, if they don't already.

The multi-user bot interaction is particularly useful - if you're communicating with friends or co-workers in a messenger platform, it's a lot more useful if you can pull the bot into the conversation, rather than have to bounce out. Imagine searching for a restaurant - instead of bouncing out to Yelp, you can bring Yelp into the conversation.

The AI / NLP will get better overtime as well - making the conversations more natural, with better response rates and understanding of the actual intent. We'll most likely see more interoperating amongst bots as well - having bots interact with other bots.

What is your main goal at Dashbot.io?

Dashbot.io is a bot analytics platform that enables enterprises and developers to increase user engagement, acquisition, and monetisation. In addition to standard metrics like engagement and retention, we have bot specific metrics like conversational analytics, sentiment analysis, and the full chat session transcripts. We also provide tools to take action on the data - like our live person take over of sessions to help lead a user to conversion and increase engagement.

What has driven you to work on virtual assistants?

We're super excited about this space as the conversational data is much richer and more actionable than traditional web and mobile analytics. We can do some pretty interesting things based on the data - like insert a live person into a chat sessions to improve engagement and lead to conversion, re-engagement notifications, AI testing, and more.

To hear from Arte and other experts in the field of virtual assistants, register now. Places are limited!

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Alonso Martinez, Technical Director at Pixar Animation Studios
  • Lionel Cordesses, Innovation Project Manager at Renault
  • (Elena) Corina Grigore, PhD Candidate at Yale University, Social Robotics Lab
  • Amir Shevat, Director of Develop Relations at Slack
  • Rick Collins, President of Enterprise at Next IT
  • Dennis Mortensen, CEO & Founder at x.ai
  • Anjuli Kannan, Software Engineer at Google

The Virtual Assistant Summit will be running alongside the Deep Learning Summit, meaning attendees can enjoy additional sessions and networking opportunities.

The European edition of the Virtual Assistant Summit will be taking place in London on 21-22 September! View the event here.