Ben  Franklin Ben Franklin | 17 Aug 2020

In Part 1, we defined AI and looked at how it’s put to work in different industry sectors. In this article, we’re focusing on the function of AI specifically on business websites and how it interacts with users.

AI, a closer look

Implementing AI on your website possibly sounds daunting. But these tools are already part of the kit in many content management systems (CMS), especially enterprise level ones, and you’ve definitely encountered them on the web. Let’s look at how it works in closer detail. AI uses a data set and the requests made against that data set to begin to learn what website users are most likely to want to see. So if someone clicks around your website and touches upon certain areas, that behaviour is continually sending requests to the CMS’s databases for information. Can I get more information on that? Can I get an appointment on Friday? Does it come in blue? Is your office near the train station? And the way they ask the question—typing words into the search bar, for example, or clicking through a drop down menu or adding things to their basket—tells the AI a bit about the user. That behaviour can be analysed using both built-in AI analysis tools and 3rd-party integrations to offer the user a more personalised experience as they navigate through the site through marketing automation. The more they use the site, the more personalised it becomes. It may prompt them with other products that go with the ones they’ve browsed. An exit pop-up may remind them that they’ve left things unpurchased in their basket. The next time they visit, a list of services available on their preferred booking day may surface on the homepage.

Managing digital assets

Other, less customer-facing automation that is happening right now is in digital asset management. AI has the ability to analyse content in huge volumes and to tag it according to keyword. This is time-consuming, low-level work for a human, but easy for AI. And it is necessary in order to keep that all-important database producing the results that users need. Getting the tags correct means that when someone searches your website for their favourite flavour popcorn seasoning, they won’t end up with size guides for cardboard popcorn containers or maps of local cinemas in their results. That same ability to analyse content can also be put to work analysing tone and rating content for audience suitability. If you have content that may be sensitive for users by age, for instance, it can be restricted based on parameters that you set. When new content is created, the AI will learn, based on those parameters and what’s already been restricted, how to restrict the new content.

Chatbots and natural language learning

Natural language learning is also a hot area in AI right now, with the proliferation of the chat bot. These clever takes on the website search act like a customer service chat window, but are actually AI-powered search functions. They respond conversationally to a user’s request, and they learn how to recognise what a person needs based on how people speak in real life, instead of just using a string of keywords. The benefit of this is twofold. First that users don’t have to try to manipulate the algorithm. They can just ‘speak’ as they would normally. Secondly, by using real speech patterns, these AI chat bots can inform speech recognition search functions. These are some of the ways that AI is capable of working at this very moment. Investing in hosting technology, such as Microsoft Azure, or a CMS platform such as Kentico Xperience, that taps into automation and natural language learning will pay off in the immediate future in terms of customer satisfaction, business retention, and lead conversion.

Future-proofing your investment 

AI also is fundamentally future-proof. It works better the more it gets used by learning from user behaviours. Additionally, AI is only going to increase its presence on business web platforms. And your competitors know that, too. Keeping up to keep up is part of what it takes to stay at the head of a market sector. Getting to grips with the basics of AI now will position you to take advantage of the next generation of development, which is already on the horizon.  The website AI of the future will be less reactive to user behaviour and will become more predictive about their needs. It may include AI-assisted content creation, which takes predictive text a leap further—predictive content. It analyses prior content based on topic, chosen audience parameters and even author/creator style to populate fields with blocks of content that can then be refined by a human editor. We may see advances in user journeys such as real time shopping cart flow analysis. AI will decide if a person is likely to be turned off by upselling or susceptible to it based on their actions and proceed accordingly. And there are dozens more ways AI will continue to transform your website’s interactions with its users, both internal and external. These evolutions will make some aspects of business simpler, and they will make others more sophisticated. But they’re definitely coming. Are you ready? If you want to talk more about making use of AI on your web platform or Microsoft Azure, contact Technical Director Ben Franklin.