Alexa skills top 80,000 after a big Alexa-powered holiday season

  • “Amazon had also said last month that more than 100 million Alexa devices had been sold to date, including the Echo Dot and other Echo-branded devices, along with those from third-parties.
  • Google, of course, quickly responded with a note that its Assistant AI will be on a billion devices by the end of January.
  • A new number Amazon shared yesterday was that the number of voice applications built for Alexa had now topped 80,000 worldwide. That’s up from the 70,000 skills Amazon was touting back in December.
  • The company said in November it now has more than 10,000 employees working on Alexa, as a point of reference. But it’s challenged in building up a knowledge base of questions and answers — something Google has worked on since the launch of its Knowledge Graph in 2012.”

https://www.google.com/amp/s/techcrunch.com/2019/02/01/alexa-skills-top-80000-after-a-big-alexa-powered-holiday-season/amp/

AI Weekly: 2018 in machine learning – Khari Johnson

  • “On the AI assistant front, we saw Alexa and Cortana begin to work together.
  • We documented how this fall Google, Facebook, and Amazon simultaneously fought major scandals while at the same time entering full pitch mode for smart displays, and we looked at the need for trust in AI assistant adoption.
  • One of my favorites from Kyle Wiggers is about the danger that too much focus on apocalyptic AGI scenarios of the future will distract from pressing problems we face now.
  • My favorite from former AI staff writer Blair Hanley Frank analyzed the way tech companies market AI solutions and proclaimed that Sensei, Watson, and Einstein must die.”

https://www.google.com/amp/s/venturebeat.com/2018/12/28/ai-weekly-2018-in-machine-learning/amp/

Analysts Say Siri Has Gotten Smarter, But Lags The Competition

“Gene Munster and Will Thompson, two researchers from Loup Ventures, tested Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, Siri and Google Assistant. They found that Siri correctly answered 74.6 percent of the 800 questions administered. Alexa answered 72.5 percent correctly, Cortana answered 63.4 percent and Google Assistant scored the highest at 87.9 percent.”

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.pymnts.com/news/artificial-intelligence/2018/siri-google-assistant-smart-speakers-artificial-intelligence/amp/

How Amazon’s retail revolution is changing the way we shop – theverge.com

Illustration by Aaron Robinson for The Verge

Today, thousands of products integrate with the company’s Alexa platform to make use of its voice search and query capabilities. Just as it once foresaw e-commerce, streaming, and cloud computing as the future of the internet, Amazon saw AI as not just something that could live within the smartphone — as Apple established with Siri and Google with its Assistant — but also in the home.

As it stands today, Amazon employs more than half a million people, more so than any other technology company in the country and second only to Walmart in the US. But the eventual result of its investments in robotics and AI is that technology’s biggest and fast-growing workforce could see that growth start to slow and, perhaps years down the line, even shrink as robots tackle ever more complicated tasks. In the process, the company may develop robots for use outside its fulfillment centers. Amazon has already changed how we shop and, by extension, how we live our lives. Its next big step could be changing how we work.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.theverge.com/platform/amp/2018/10/23/17970466/amazon-prime-shopping-behavior-streaming-alexa-minimum-wage

47.3 million Americans now have access to a smart speaker

“According to a recent study by Voicebot.ai, 47.3 million Americans, or nearly one in five, now have access to a smart speaker. That’s a lot of people asking voice assistants for directions, recipes, jokes, music and, increasingly, to make purchases. Of those 47 million who own smart speakers, 57% have made a purchase using that speaker.”

“Our own recent research showed 55% of shoppers said they like purchasing through voice-activated devices,” El-Arifi says.

“According to a recent study by ReportLinker, 31% of consumers list privacy concerns as the main drawback to owning a smart device. But at the same time, 90% of smart speaker owners wish their devices could do more, suggesting that the best way to stave off privacy concerns is to add value.”

https://www.clickz.com/ecommerce-brands-race-voice-search/216915/

Emotional breakdown – how Air Canada uses AI to improve customer relationships – Marisa Garcia

Image credit: tnooz.com
  • “Nasr says that this initial Alexa skills project lays a strong foundation for the integration of AI in other customer-facing applications. “A lot of what we’ve done with Alexa and RozieAi can be extended to other ecosystems, like Facebook and Google, so we are not re-building the entire solution for each of the ecosystems. It becomes more of an adaptation as required or as justified by differences from one product to the next.”
  • Air Canada has also applied AI to product marketing through a collaboration with AI marketing content generation platform Persado. For example, by incorporating anxiety language, Air Canada has experienced up to 48% more opens of emails and click-throughs were almost 220% higher when it directed consumers to “see deals” versus to “book now” in the call-to-action button of the email.
  • For Air Canada, part of the refinement of the conversion funnel, and of engaging CRM, is a prioritization of mobile which is in high demand by customers. This in turn means a prioritization of voice queries and chatbots.
  • Air Canada believes AI is now an integral part of improving operations both in the back-end and customer-facing. Nasr says: “The question is: can the AI and other technologies be used to make it easier and better for our people to deliver service?”
  • Read Full Post

AI eCommerce News – Sept 21st

The second reason chatbots and voice assistants are likely to make notable change is that we’re seeing businesses looking to maximize their cost-efficiency by streamlining their operations. Both of these factors combined explain the rise in popularity of AI bots providing the experience of a personal assistant, be it a chatbot or a voice assistant.
Last Christmas, millions of people purchased Alexa products, and sales of Echo speakers increased ninefold. Currently, one in five people would consider making purchases through a bot and would spend an average of £500 ($598.34) using AI to make purchases. Gartner predicts that AI bots will power more than four in five customer service interactions (85 percent) by 2020.
Voice-activated virtual assistants are present in a lot of devices and while their functions overlap, they all have their own isolated and defined ecosystems. But a collaboration between Amazon and Microsoft will not only change that, it will potentially have a big impact on the future of eCommerce.
The collaboration between the companies will allow Alexa and Cortana to talk to one another, giving Windows 10 users the capacity to access Alexa’s skills by giving voice commands to Cortana. Meanwhile, Alexa will be able to assist Amazon Echo users to stay on top of all the appointments and reminders that Cortana has gathered.
It’s just the nature of the business. With all of the excitement surrounding innovative solutions and emerging platforms and hardware, tech developers and consumers, alike, are constantly looking ahead. However, constantly living in the future tense somewhat blinds us to the growth that occurs in certain avenues like ecommerce. According to a study by the International Trade Administration, ecommerce is expected to grow by 30.7 percent in 2017, which is an incredible figure when you think about the scope of the industry.
The ecommerce giant has been ramping up its connected devices portfolio ever since it outed the original Echo smart speaker in November 2014 — a device we dubbed “a tad baffling, but also intriguing” at the time.
The speaker went on to become something of a surprise hit for Amazon, whose prior mobile hardware forays had badly flopped. And while it has never broken out Echo sales figures, it’s clear the idea of a smart speaker has excited huge interest from industry, dovetailing with rising hype around voice interfaces as the next big user interaction shift, as computing becomes increasingly embedded into the environment where it might not be viable (or desirable) to have lots of screens.

AI technology can also help combine the efficiency often associated with online browsing with the immediate access physical stores provide. For example, groceries can utilize mobile apps that would allow clients to check what they need online, scan a barcode, order the products and check them out without having to go through the checkout line. This type of efficiency allows busy shoppers to finish their task with no interruptions and will undoubtedly keep them going back to that store.

ai eCommerce News Sept 4th

Image credit: eweek.com

Alexa-Cortana Deal to Boost AI and Voice-Enabled Commerce Markets

“The Aug. 30 announcement by Microsoft and Amazon that they will enable their respective virtual assistant technologies, Cortana and Alexa, to talk to one another, is being regarded by industry experts as the first crack in the wall that separates today’s leading virtual assistant technologies.” 


“‘Alexa enables a set of defined skills for specific use cases and Cortana is designed to be a voice interaction interface’ for finding and retrieving information. Together, Cortana and Alexa will push the boundaries of what voice-enabled AI can do beyond what each platform can do alone.”

“Russian retailer Lamoda’s use of Dynamic Yield resulted in a $15 million uplift in gross profit, a staggering 35-times return on their investment in the platform. The company built over 160 unique audience segments, and delivered unique experiences to each in the form of segment-specific coupons and personalized category pages.”

“Perhaps not surprisingly, Rajan believes deep learning still has much more to offer the ad industry. For example, it could figure out long-term cause and effect relationships between what you see or do online today and what you click on or buy next week. ‘Being able to model the timeline of user interest is something that the deep models are able to do a lot better,’ she says.”