The ITx 2018 Programme may change without notice
Conversational user experiences, aka “chatbots”, are mushrooming on the internet. Gartner research reports that "by 2020, we will be having more conversations with bots than with our spouse.”
A combination of recently available cloud computing power, commercialisation of artificial intelligence (particularly natural language processing) research, and the rise of social media platforms have made it possible to deliver automated conversations previously dominated by web sites and mobile applications. App marketplaces are shrinking, and consumers have lost patience with websites - conversational user interfaces are clearly here to stay.
I co-founded Ambit (ambitai.com) in Auckland, New Zealand just over a year ago. My colleagues and I have built a code-free enterprise chatbot platform and tools, and have successfully delivered conversational user experience into New Zealand businesses. I present the valuable lessons we have learned about the possibilities, and limitations, of this cutting-edge technology.
I will address the challenges and complexities of designing automated conversations for a wide range of users, creating a visual language that can adequately represent human dialog, the pragmatic nature of natural language processing for instant messaging, and the ups and downs of creating a business with technology at the peak of the hype cycle.
Gareth Cronin is Executive General Manager of Partner Product Projects at Xero, one of New Zealand’s most well-known export businesses. He is also a co-founder of Ambit, a software startup with a platform for creating conversational user experiences for enterprises using natural language processing.
He serves on the board of the IT Professionals New Zealand's (ITP) national tertiary degree accreditation programme under the Seoul Accord and the advisory panel for the Auckland ICT Grad School.
In the past, he has been a member of the ITP Auckland branch committee and the IT advisory panel for Manukau Institute of Technology. Gareth is a co-organiser of the Auckland Software Leaders meetup, and can often be found evangelising about the importance of technology to the transformation of the New Zealand economy, and the importance of technology careers for young people.
Prior to founding Ambit and joining Xero, Gareth consulted for Air New Zealand and Vista Entertainment, led engineering at crime analytics software business Wynyard Group, at health software creator Orion Health, and at manufacturing software vendor Kiwiplan.
Gareth left an earlier career as a piano teacher and musician to undertake a BSc(Hons) in Computer Science, work as a Software Engineer, and then later complete an MBA at the University of Auckland.