Conversational AI: Let's Talk About It

Regina Ramyata Rao

The phrase “conversational artificial intelligence” can sound intimidating, but its multifaceted use case and applications are more common than you can imagine. Conversing with Siri or Alexa is an example of conversational AI in its most simple form.
 

Hundreds of millions of people worldwide use conversational assistants to help accomplish not just routine tasks in daily life, but also routine tasks within businesses. Businesses that offer the smartest AI-powered conversations gain a strategic advantage in the marketplace as consumers increasingly expect human-like assistance.
 

During our virtual event, AI & The Evolved Recruiter, Phenoms Deepti Yenireddy, VP of Chatbots, and Jesus Latorre-Socas, Product Manager, explained how conversational AI is a must-have for positively impacting the talent experience and increasing productivity for recruiters. Check out the session highlights below, and be sure to sign up for on-demand access to watch it from start to finish!
 


Watch "Conversational AI: Let's Talk About It" here — and unlock access to all on-demand event content!



What is conversational AI?
 


At its core, conversational AI is a subset of AI that interacts with users in a human-like manner, offering real-time responses to unique needs. The conversations with AI are commonly used to gain information, complete tasks, or execute transactions.
 

Conversational AI is powered by machine learning (ML) and natural language processing that interprets what humans ask and responds in a contextual fashion. 
 

Conversational AI intelligently communicates with users via speech, text, or visual interactions, and assists us in numerous areas of our lives, whether we’re reading our emails, getting new music or personalized movie suggestions. 
 

In data products, conversational AI shows up in three primary ways:
 

  • Chatbots
  • Virtual Assistants
  • Customer-based assistants


Sometimes these three terms are used interchangeably but differentiated in the function they perform, i.e., who they respond to. For example, chatbots on a career site respond to employees post-onboarding or potential job seekers, whereas virtual assistants help recruiters with administrative tasks while simultaneously scheduling an interview, answering interview-related FAQs, or managing calendars.

 

What is conversational AI vs. regular AI?
 


What makes AI conversational? Is it the information that's getting shared with us, or how it's getting shared?
 

“It’s a mix of both,” said Latorre-Socas.
 

He went on to explain that context is key. “There’s the context in which a person is talking to the AI, which leads into the conversational aspect.” Based on the context, AI understands which conversation to lead it to — similar to how Siri and Alexa understand our questions and provide relevant answers. 

 

Where does conversational AI fit into the HR stack?
 


"Conversational AI in HR is front- and back-end,” Yenireddy began. “Let me give you an example — when we're talking about Siri or Alexa or Google Assistant, there's so much back-end activity where it pulls information from a huge database of resources and at the same time, understands and responds to you." 
 

Areas of the HR framework like recruitment, employee onboarding, compensation and benefits, leaves and attendance, exit management, etc. involve a lot of routine and highly repetitive tasks and administrative processes leading to significant fatigue and mindless drudgery for your HR team. Using virtual assistants to operate the employee customer-service function or to take over easily automated administrative processes can significantly bring about cost and process efficiencies.
 

Unlike humans, conversational AI is available and operating 100% of the time. We are entering a world where chat and voice assistants are on 24/7 standby to help with routine tasks. AI is constantly working around the clock to improve KPIs such as cost per hire, time to hire, and quality of hire as well as the onboarding experience as a whole.


Related: How Conversational AI Will Reinvent Recruiting


AI assistants traditionally receive some textual query as input, use machine learning models to understand the meaning of the text, and perform an appropriate action accordingly. 
 

There are two types of AI:
 

  1. Supervised AI is trained to perform in a particular manner by addressing situations in a certain way. This learning module allows AI to collect data or produce data output from the previous experience.
  2. Unsupervised AI is self-learning. Fueled by neural networks and earning through tremendous amounts of data, this AI molds itself and helps find all kinds of unknown patterns in the data.


When integrated with intelligent back-end systems, AI-powered HR bots provide a very robust user engagement. They seamlessly understand an existing communication system without taking the ‘human interface’ route, while still preserving the human element via a ‘conversational experience.'
 

In order for it to operate accurately and effectively, however, it must be trained and learn over time.
 


"We as humans learn so many things so quickly growing up that we have to replicate that in machine learning,” Yenireddy said. “Imagine as a baby that you slowly start understanding that you are looking at your mom — you don't have to teach that to a kid. Now imagine teaching that to a machine.”

 

What is the future of conversational AI?
 


According to Yenireddy, AI-driven technology must be accurate if it’s going to truly support HR.  
 

The latest AI and machine learning technologies enable us to improve bot functionality so that these conversations can evolve over time. Innovation and disruption paint the future of conversational AI, including accuracy and precision of responses, multilingual capability, and an enhanced, seamless experience. Users will look for developments like humor from a human-like bot.
 

With the fast-paced technical evolution, deep learning algorithms have significantly upgraded the capabilities of these intelligent systems, and additional growth and demand across multiple industries, talent management included, can be expected.

 


Sign up to watch the full session, "Conversational AI: Let's Talk About It" and learn how conversational AI improves the talent experience and empowers recruiters.