AI, Search Support Transition From Mobile Apps To Bots

Bots will become the next version of mobile apps, creating the emotional connection between brands and consumers through artificial intelligence (AI) and search, according to Ryan Gavin, GM Search and Cortana Marketing.

During Advertising Week, Gavin told Search Marketing Daily that bots will replace mobile applications. The conversations on bots will occur more often and will become the new app for brands; and natural language will become the use interface, he said.

Microsoft this week announced a new group that will help accelerate the use of AI. About 500 computer scientists and engineers will support the team and will include Microsoft Research along with the company’s Information Platform Group, Bing and Cortana — natural language processing — product groups, along with its Ambient Computing and Robotics teams.

AI continues to transform the ability to rationalize the data making the connection between persons, places and things. Search is a core component that helps to create a more emotional connection. Gavin said apps will not disappear -- they will just bridge the gap. "Everyone knows about the long-tail problem on mobile phones," he said. "There's only about 10 we use, so there's a lot of innovation that goes to waste."

App Zombies -- those that exist but do not have enough downloads or searches to rank in the iOS Apple Store -- made up about 90% of the 2 million available apps worldwide since June 1, 2016. That figure is up 26% since January 2016 in the Apple App Store, according to mobile app analytics company Adjust.

Gavin said users spend four to five times more on chat applications than they do with apps. Microsoft's Ai chat-bot Xioiace  --based on Bing search technology and Big Data -- has proven that she is sensitive to emotions, can remember prior conversations, and builds emotional connections with human beings.

At the MediaPost OMMA Bots and Chat conference during Advertising Week, Natalie Monbiot, SVP and managing partner at strategic innovation at Universal McCann, called the potential of bots "enormous." 

XiaoIce was released in both China and Japan. In Japan, she launched as Rinna, designed and built for a Japanese audience. During the past year, XiaoIce has become a one-on-one companion for about 40 million users according to Microsoft.

XiaoIce also points to the future of search, because where instead of a list of search results in the form of 10-blue links, a bot will simply verbalize the answer.

Gavin said that one in four users of Xoaoice told her "I love you," more than 13% asked her to guess what they’re thinking, and 10% want to know if she is a real human being.

Bing also has released a range of intelligent knowledge bots, including Bing Images, Bing Music and Bing Sportscaster.

"Tools like Skype Translator, XiaoIce chatbot and the Cortana virtual assistant would not have been possible without years of investment in machine learning, speech recognition and natural language processing," Harry Shum, Microsoft EVP of technology and research, wrote in a post earlier this week, adding that Cortana serves about 113 million customers and has answered over 12 billion questions.

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