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Conversations Conference 2020 Highlights Promises and Challenges of Conversational Agents in COVID Realities
The Conversations Conference live streaming gathered over 400 guests online on Friday, December 4. Held by Just AI, the fourth installment of the leading conversational AI conference was a hybrid event — an online experience for guests with speakers streaming either from a TV studio or remotely. Still, the online crowd was almost the size of the previous offline events and included representatives of businesses.
The event featured 29 speakers who shared their hands-on experience with Conversational AI applied in a variety of industries — from fintech and retail to e-health and gaming. Speakers included representatives of Russian tech giants like Sber, Yandex, Mail.ru Group, and Alfa-Bank, international companies like Raiffeisenbank and CoolGames among others. Some of them joined the event remotely, while others delivered their talks from a TV studio set up at the Radisson Blu Olimpiyskiy Hotel Moscow.
“The Conversations Conference has always been the event that brought together the brightest minds and cutting-edge technologies,” said CEO & Founder of Just AI Kirill Petrov, the event’s mastermind. “But what’s more important — it has been architecting the vibrant and diverse Conversational AI community. And despite being reduced to online this year, we all still could feel this incredible energy even through computer screens.”
The event agenda comprised two tracks: Business and Technology. The first one featured real-life cases of Conversational AI being adopted for business transformation, including a blueprint for a banking bot platform, the recipe for analyzing bot efficiency from a payment provider, and exclusive insights from financial giants on creating custom voice assistants in-house.
Thus, Max Balyan, CPO at SberDevices shared the company’s experience in developing not one, but three voice assistants with different personalities. A few weeks ago Sber (former Sberbank, parent company of SberDevices) had a launch event for a new ecosystem of smart devices and services — all powered by a family of voice assistants. Unlike other companies with home-grown voice assistants, Sber opened its ecosystem for third-party developers right from the start. Their talk featured a showcase of the Smart Market and tips for developers eager to create smart apps for Sber’s ecosystem.
Quite a few talks offered insights on creating value and cutting costs with the help of conversational agents. So, a pizza franchise owner explained how he won back lost customers with voice-based surveys and got nearly $279,000 of additional income within three months. S7 Tech Labs, the S7 Airlines subsidiary, told how they managed to cut contact-center costs by 35% with a chatbot assistant, that can process 70% percent of customer queries on its own.
The Technology track offered talks by savvy developers from industries spanning gaming, fintech, security conversation design, e-health, and more. The headliner of the Technology track was the Netherlands-based company Cool Games. A pioneer in developing voice games for Google Smart displays, the company’s Founder and CEO Laurens Rutten shared his recipe for designing a great voice game. Among other most-watched keynotes were data markup features for extracting disease symptoms from the patient-written text, making a proactive in-game voice-assistant, and using biometrics to expand virtual assistant capabilities.
One of the highlights of the event was the new software demo by Just AI — the world’s first Kotlin-based open-source framework that allows for easy chatbot and voice assistant development.
The most-watched part of the conference was a panel discussion on voice assistants moderated by Just AI that gathered the Russian tech giants Yandex, Mail.Ru Group, SberDevices, and Alfa-Bank. Over recent years, each of the four companies has developed its custom voice assistant, so they brought their expertise to talk about new heroes, new devices, and new challenges in the voice industry.
Some of the brightest minds of Russia’s voice tech industry discussed that voice assistants acted as mediators between users and businesses. And how businesses were offering different “surfaces” — from smartphones to mini-smart speakers to display-equipped devices — for multimodal access to products and services.
According to the experts, voice interfaces allow for frictionless interactions with technology: to interact with a virtual assistant, one doesn’t have to figure out how it works and can ask their queries in a natural language.
Apart from the packed agenda, there was a room for entertainment at the SberDevices virtual stand. There the participants could see the family of Sber’s recently launched devices in action: including a fun dancing game Beat Dancer for SberPortal that showcased the movement tracking capability of Russia’s first smart display.
Despite being held online, the event was still filled with emotion, inspiration, and humor — thanks to the networking app that allowed the guests to communicate with each other, schedule meetings, and enabled real-time Q&A.