Me and our Strategy & Business Development Director Tero Tiainen were lucky enough to spend a few days in Austin Texas and see with our own eyes what our future will look like.
Even though artificial intelligence is not new as a subject since it has been in tech related news for many years, it is clear that things are really blooming on that front. It was almost impossible to attend a session where AI was not mentioned one way or another. IBM Watson understands empathy on a level that surprises many, voice recognition related AI gadgets like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home are starting to take over our homes and Nasa is deploying Mars with AI, robots and other automated devices.
One of the most interesting topics regarding our business was how AI will change search and how we will look for the information in the future. As AI is constantly improving the voice recognition gadgets like Amazon Alexa or Google home, we are going to find these gadgets more and more in our homes as the real benefits of them reveal themselves. Same goes for voice recognition in our smart phones.
We will start to have our own personal assistants available to us 24/7. Where as previously we would have searched for one particular information from Google and get different results based on our search query as a one-way Q&A like format, we will now start to have two-way conversations with our AI powered assistants, where the assistant will also ask questions from us. This conversation will lead to wanted result and most probably the conversation will be enhanced with video, picture or other formats to get the best possible outcome. Of course the whole purpose of this development is to make our lives easier. It does, however, also bring up some interesting opportunities and questions about the future of search as an information source. Looks like the existing ecosystem might be disrupted. At least these questions will be relevant in this disruption:
- Will there be a platform war between hardware gadget providers and what is the role of different software providers? Who will control the search in the future, can somebody challenge Google?
- What is the meaning of keywords in the future and will there be a need for SEO as we know it?
- How and what kind of content needs to be produced in the future? Would there be a need for different content in different platforms?
- What kind of business models we are going to see around this? Do companies need to start bidding on the conversation results and are we going to hear some ads?
- Will the user experience or business win? Are you going to get the most relevant content for you or will you get the most relevant commercial content?
- How far can the personalization go? Based on your behaviour data and the learning AI, do you even need to have these conversations after a while? Your personal bot assistant knows you so well that it can make proactive suggestion or automatically do certain decisions for you.
It is obvious that this kind of change will not happen overnight but as we saw in Austin, the technology is starting to be there so we are not that far from it. Different languages will be the main obstacles in the development. Thus we should probably not hold our breath for a functioning ecosystem with the Finnish language any time soon. If your business language is however English and one of your main markets is for example the US, I would start to look into the opportunities that lay ahead with AI and voice recognition.
If you would like to hear more about our views of AI and search or any other topic we came across at SXSW just give us a shout and let’s talk.
Jukka Sundquist & Tero Tiainen