Conversational AI vs. generative AI: What business leaders should know

Two glass-seeming speech bubbles (one that says AI and one with an ellipsis) overlaid over a background of blurred text, representing conversational artificial intelligence.Since OpenAI unleashed ChatGPT upon the world last year, artificial intelligence (AI) has become the subject of heated discussions and debate. Amid all the speculation about whether AI will take all our jobs and lead to the downfall of humanity, you might find yourself scrambling to keep up with the terminology.

Specifically, the terms “conversational AI” and “generative AI” get thrown around a lot these days. If you’re curious about the definition of either or both of these types of artificial intelligence, this blog post is for you. Here’s what you should know about conversational AI versus generative AI – and how to determine which variety of artificial intelligence can help enhance your business operations.

What is conversational AI?

Conversational artificial intelligence (AI) is a step up from basic chatbots and can interact with you as if you’re talking to another human. This variety of AI utilizes natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) to simulate conversations, according to Google Cloud. Other vital components and capabilities include the following, as specified by Deloitte Digital:

  • Context awareness
  • Dynamic conversion of written text to speech
  • Voice-optimized response
  • Intent analysis and identification
  • Understanding of entities (e.g., dates and times)
  • Ability to retrieve data from web services or databases via APIs

Conversational AI platforms are typically trained on large datasets of text or speech so the system knows how to converse with humans in a natural way, according to Google. It can also learn from interactions and refine its responses as a result. Some examples of conversational AI include intelligent chatbots and virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri.

Conversational AI has enormous potential to boost productivity, contain costs, and increase efficiency for businesses by automating mundane tasks, expanding self-service options for consumers, and assisting contact center agents (e.g., by pulling relevant info to answer clients’ questions and analyzing a customer’s sentiment during interactions), among other functions.

What is generative AI?

Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence that can create content such as text or images based on examples it has “seen” before, Google Senior Research Director Douglas Eck explains in the article “Ask a Techspert: What is generative AI?” published on The Keyword, Google’s official blog. Large language models like ChatGPT that can predict how a sequence of words will progress are one type of generative artificial intelligence. Imagen, a text-to-image diffusion model that similarly foresees the progression of pixels, is another.

Generative AI can be combined with conversational AI – meaning you can have systems that generate original content based on large datasets and can also simulate natural conversation with end users. ChatGPT is a prime example of the intersection of the two: If you visit OpenAI’s website, you’ll notice it states that the large language model “interacts in a conversational way.”

Note: Generative AI might seem like a major time-saver, but it still has significant limitations, such as spitting out plausible sounding but fabricated content, repeating itself, and offering verbose responses, according to OpenAI. It still needs human editors.

An illustration titled "Conversational AI vs. Generative AI" showing a robot with a speech bubble next to another robot with gears and circuits protruding from its head.

How to find the best AI solutions for your business

Before you start deploying AI solutions for your organization, you’ll want to carefully consider all your options as well as the following key factors:

  • Your budget
  • Your short- and long-term goals
  • Pain points that you think the new solutions will mitigate
  • Key performance indicators for the AI solutions
  • Your plan to streamline end-user adoption

Our technology consultants have extensive experience with AI, particularly in leveraging it to improve contact center operations. We have connections to leading AI solution suppliers in our partner network and can draw on our experience and expertise to conduct a competitive analysis of the top contenders for your business. Why spend dozens of hours mulling over your options and trying to find a solution that aligns with your needs when we can do the homework for you?

Start your AI-powered transformation today by calling 877-599-3999 or emailing to connect with our consultants.

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