Shaping the Future of Chatbots: Q&A with Conversational Automation Lead Lennart Bank

December 16, 2019

Behind every Ciphix bot is a team of hardworking and passionate humans, and we’re excited to introduce you to a few of them in our Team Stories interview series. To kick things off, join us for a virtual cup of coffee with Conversational Automation Lead Lennart Bank.

Lennart not only helps drive our Conversational Automation Solutions but also energizes our whole team with his innovative mindset. This Rotterdam native earned a BS in software development at Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences and worked as a freelance web developer before joining Ciphix early last year. Outside the office, you can find Lennart enjoying an early-morning run or a night of Netflix with his brother, sister and cat.

Lennart’s expertise in AI-powered chatbot development makes him a go-to resource for our team and an ideal subject for our first interview. We sat down with Lennart to chat about his experience in the field of Conversational Automation (CA), key developments to watch for and what inspires him to keep exploring this uncharted territory.

10 Questions with Lennart

1. How did you become interested in Conversational Automation?

I was initially skeptical about CA, associating it with the rule-based customer service chatbots I’d seen in the past. So, I had many questions when our CEO, Mathjis, proposed that we start developing conversational solutions. As I learned about the benefits of today’s virtual assistants, however, I became excited about the huge range of possibilities ready to be explored.

This was especially true after our successful Proof of Concept for a Human Resource solution. The project has evolved into Hablo, a virtual junior HR professional that provides AI-enhanced assistance to employees. Hablo is a great example of how CA can improve efficiency and employee experience, and as product owner I’m working on making it an even more useful tool.

2. Talk a bit about your role within Ciphix.

I focus on Conversational Automation with a growing team of developers and converational specialists. We work with Ciphix’s RPA and AI departments to build complete digital workforces: the RPA is the “hands,” the AI is the “brain” and CA is the interaction between humans and bots. I’m also part of our Tech & Innovation initiatives, where we look for ways to stay a step ahead in new technologies.

No matter what team, everyone at Ciphix is focused on our mission to “take the robot out of the human.” It’s rewarding to work with such motivated people, and to know that our solutions are making a positive impact on organisations and lives.

3. How do you expect digital workforces to evolve in the next few years?

AI is the new UI. Users will no longer need to search and click through applications; instead, they will simply ask a question and the answer will present itself. CA will ensure that the bot understands the question, RPA will ensure that the answer can be found in any legacy system and AI will automate cognitive decisions. This combination will dramatically streamline human-bot interactions, freeing people to make better use of their time.

4. What do you think is the biggest misconception about chatbots?

Many people are unaware that chatbots can hold contextual conversations. Older chatbots, such as MSN’s Chatman, were rule based; today’s, however, are built with Natural Language Processing and Understanding. This allows chatbots to interact with users in much more helpful and engaging ways.

Fortunately, new use cases are helping people better understand the true potential of CA. This realisation will grow exponentially over the next few years, to the point where virtual assistants become an intuitive, expected part of users’ everyday lives.

5. Describe the future of Conversational Automation in three words.

Omnichannel, proactive and contextual.

6. What has been a favorite “Ciphix moment”?

One of the most memorable days was my first time visiting Google with Bas (CTO) and Mathijs (CEO). As a student, I never would have expected that I’d be taking part in meetings like this at one of the world’s largest companies.

7. What do you find unique about Ciphix’s approach?

I enjoy being part of a team that emphasizes real impact and results rather than hype. Many of our clients are used to working with technology companies that deliver more talk than pragmatic action. Ciphix is the other way around; we get right down to business and build great products that speak for themselves.

8. What is a great new CA tool or resource you’ve recently discovered?

Dialogflow’s new Mega Agent, which provides the ability to combine multiple chatbot agents. This technology increases not only technical but also organisational scalability, allowing us to manage one agent per department. Using this tool will enable major improvements within CA Centers of Excellence.

9. If you could automate any part of your life, what would it be?

Lennart: Going to the gym!

10. What advice would you give to someone interested in building a career in CA?

Think bigger than chatbot. Think virtual assistant: one entry point for all user questions, and one source for all the answers. Today’s CA can be integrated into any backend system or personal application, resulting in proactive assistants that can help in ways we haven’t even thought of.

With this in mind, start exploring career opportunities within CA. There are many ways to get involved, whether it’s as a programmer, a conversational designer or an innovator thinking of new features to incorporate. Whatever your background, I recommend looking into CA if you’re seeking to take on complex challenges and think creatively to solve them.

Learn more about Conversational Automation at Ciphix

Interested in learning more about our Conversational Automation Solutions and Career opportunities? Drop us a line – we’d love to connect with you.

Lennart Bank

Conversational Automation Lead