What Is Conversational AI And Why Does It Matter?

Conversational AI applications have become increasingly popular over the last few years, with better access to technologies such as machine learning and NLU improving their capabilities and delivering even greater benefits to organisations. But as with any new ‘AI’ technology, it is important to understand what the application really is to move beyond the hype.


Conversational AI is the application of a set of technologies, such as Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning within automated voice and chat messaging platforms e.g., Siri or Conversational Assistants. 

AI Assistants enable users to make requests, perform actions and interact with a variety of complex systems in a natural way, delivering faster and more meaningful responses leading to improved user satisfaction and efficiencies. 

A History Of Conversational AI

Chatbots have been around since the early 1960s, getting slightly more sophisticated as the decades rolled on, but only as proof points of what was to come downstream. By the mid-2000s, chatbots began to be commercially deployed, automating basic customer requests, but largely proving to be disappointing and frustrating as their binary nature was limiting, often resulting in hilarious ‘rabbit holes’ of confusion with customers ultimately desperate for a real person to contact.

Over the last five years, rapid advances in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML) combined with access to affordable computer processing have seen Conversational AI solutions emerge as the successor to the unsuccessful early attempts at automating repetitive tasks. User experiences delivered today are unrecognisable from the early chatbots with many interactions now indistinguishable from that of a human.

The evolution of Conversational AI

Crucially, these solutions can handle an ever-growing number of more complex tasks and requests. Furthermore, some Conversational AI Assistant solutions are now able to seamlessly integrate with enterprise applications, gathering data and information and presenting personalised responses back to the individual requestee. All the while respecting security parameters and data sensitivity.

Difference To Chatbots

Many chatbot platforms have some Conversational AI embedded within them, however broadly speaking they are typically rules-driven and based on predefined scripts and user outcomes. This is very effective when it comes to deploying a chatbot for example to gather lead generation information from a website or to respond to simple FAQs. However, often falls short when the user (customer, employee, supplier) wants to ask a more complex question or perform tasks leading to frustration and negative experiences.

Where Conversational AI Assistants differ from traditional chatbots is the use of Machine Learning (as well as other advanced AI technologies) which enables them to “go off script”. 

The assistants can understand the true meaning and intent of user interactions and leans continuously from every interaction, enabling far more meaningful responses. Additionally, the inclusion of integrations within Conversational AI Assistants such as Humley’s, means that the user can perform tasks and access more complex and diverse data leading to actionability and improved user experiences.

Applications of Conversational AI

The use cases for Conversational AI reach far beyond the traditional Customer Service application and include:

HR & Employee Support

Enable employees, HR Teams, and managers to submit questions and perform key tasks such as managing time and attendance, support learning and development and even provide advice for mental health.

IT Service Desks

Humley Studio - User Friendly Tooling

Reduce the pressure on IT Teams by enabling users to resolve their own tech issues and queries quickly and seamlessly.

Finance & Procurement

Enable procurement and finance teams to submit questions, make requests and perform tasks such as checking the status of an invoice or submitting a PO all within one multi-channel conversational interface.

Customer Assistants

Enable customers to self-serve using Humley’s Customer Support Assistant. Automate all the commonly asked queries and tasks and provide users with meaningful responses in seconds.

Knowledge Searches

Enable research teams to quickly and easily find the information and documents they need.

If you would like to find out more about Conversational AI and how to apply it to transform your business processes, get in touch today.

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