|Microsoft made a bold move by making an acquisition to AI company XOXCO / Photo by: E8xE8 via Wikimedia Commons|
Microsoft drew in a lot of buzz as they announced that they were acquiring XOXCO for an undisclosed amount. This came on the heels of their many other acquisitions like Bonsai, which was acquired in July, and Lobe, which was acquired in September. XOXCO is a well-known conversational artificial intelligence (AI) and bot development company which has been creating AI services in Texas since 2013. They are also the ones responsible for the creation of Howdy, the very first commercially available bot for Slack, which would help plan and schedule meetings. This has been perceived as a welcome development for both companies, as this can further add research and data towards AI technology and advancement of the field as a whole.
Lili Cheng, the current corporate vice president of Microsoft, states, “It also developed Botkit which provides the development tools used by hundreds of thousands of developers on GitHub. Over the years, we have partnered with XOXCO and have been inspired by their work.” The concept of conversational AI has been very helpful for businesses that engage with both employees and customers, and provide a better streamlined method of communication among them. These services range from creating virtual assistants to redesigning customer interactions with conversational assistants to aid n the workplace dynamic. This kind of technology, if improved upon, would add another layer of training and communication assistance for those who need it. A report by Gartner estimates that there will be an increase of use of conversational AI by upwards of 50% in large consumer-centric industries by 2020. Cheng states, “With this acquisition,, we are continuing to realize our approach of democratizing AI development, conversation, and dialog, and integrating conversational experiences where people communicate.”
What this holds for the future remains to be seen, but with the massive research funding and facilities of Microsoft, the public expects to see further development in the field of conversational AI.