Looking back on AI events in June 2017

Berlin is not only the German capital but also the country’s unrivaled tech hub, drawing a global crowd to important summits and festivals. Case in point: the RIOT Tech Festival and the Chatbot Summit during the month of June.

RIOT Tech Festival, Berlin

This festival took place at the historic Malzfabrik in the district of Tempelhof. Where the grains for brewing beer were once roasted and processed, start-ups, tech investors, professionals and tech companies gathered to parse the most exciting acronyms: AI, IoT and AR/VR.

Ole Heydekamp spoke at the festival on behalf of Deutsche Telekom to highlight the company’s AI activities. He ran a masterclass on the “Conversational User Experience” and participated in a panel about the impact of technology and AI on society. His take-away: “We could establish some interesting contacts with start-ups and build awareness for our platform welove.ai as well as the AI-related job postings on the site.”

Besides discussions and master classes, the festival gave selected start-ups the chance to present new technologies and showcase digital development work. Heydekamp was impressed by the agenda and line-up of exhibitors: “We saw very intriguing startups in the exhibit area, plus excellent workshops in the master classes, and speakers and panels with great content.” Focusing on just a few topics paid off, he adds: “By putting the emphasis on IoT, AI and AR/VR the talks were very innovative.”

The location added to the unusual atmosphere. The Malt Factory is not in the center of Berlin, keeping distractions to a minimum. “The Riot Tech Festival is a great event because it brings together a fascinating group of people from the world of startups and innovation. It had an extremely relaxed atmosphere with lots of room and time to network,” recalls Heydekamp, adding with a smile: “It was a pleasant mix of festival and tech conference. There are a lot of promising companies and projects out there, but we don’t have to hide behind anybody with our efforts. We got an incredible amount of positive feedback.”

Chatbot Summit, Berlin

The second Chatbot Summit also took place in Berlin in June, bringing together leading lights from the booming chatbot economy. It was geared toward start-ups, tech investors, professionals and tech companies from the worlds of AI, IoT and AR/VR. More than 80 speakers and panelists took to four stages and more than 40 sessions to present all the news that’s fit to chat. Since chatbots play a central role for eCare and eSales, this was a perfect event to Deutsche Telekom to be.

Ole Heydekamp also attended this summit and reports on what he got out of it: “Whether it’s development, technology, user experience or product strategy — there was an international line-up of speakers covering all disciplines and sharing their insights. We received a lot of input and could lay the groundwork for new connections. What’s more, it was a great stage to position Deutsche Telekom as an important player. This event is plugged into what’s happening right now and provides significant insights for our daily work. We met startups that could become potential partners.”

Franz Weisenburger, Senior Vice President of customer experience design, shared the stage with representatives from Zalando and DHL to discuss “Brands & Bots” and the future of chatbots in particular. “The work of service agents will change,” Weisenburger said, “as they will delegate simple tasks to bots and work as supervisors.”

Another discussion focused on „Winning through Enterprise Bots,“ with Miles Lynam-Smith from the eCare and eSales program among the panelists. Heydekamp sums up the session: “It was an outstanding presentation with Miles representing Telekom very well. He pointed out how relevant data is for chatbots and how we use it to train our AI. He also laid out how we collaborate with startups and small companies to put fresh ideas and new technologies to use.”

Heydekamp also highlights another presentation from the extensive agenda: “Adrian Zumbrunnen from Google spoke about converting parts of a website into a chatbot. He posed the question which context makes the most sense. A contact page for instance would be the perfect use case for such a chatbot.” Zumbrunnen repeated one of the UX mantras that’s a staple at such events. “He recommended to not simply replicate a form but instead think about how a form can be represented as a conversation with another person and how you’d move from one field or question to the next,” Heydekamp recounts.

Beerud Sheth, CEO of Gupshup, presented Interbot, a platform for bots where the machines can talk to each other. Developers can upload their own bot or use bots that have already been uploaded and shared. This form of inter-bot communication lets them collaborate, delegate tasks, act, negotiate, self-repair and upgrade their skills. Seth is certain that tomorrow’s bots will communicate with each other. A private home security system’s bot will, for instance, contact the local police bot to decide together whether an officer should be dispatched. Another would involve autonomous vehicles communicating before one safely passes the other. 

For Heydekamp, it presented a remarkable perspective: “Gupshup tries to establish a new standard which will allow to network bots and enabling entirely new use cases.” He came away very impressed by the summit. “It gave me a lot of new insights how to develop excellent customer experience journeys through conversations. The technical insights were very hands-on and helpful for my day-to-day work. Looking at how relevant chatbots are, how much interest they create and how many companies are active in AI, it absolutely validates Telekom’s course to stay fully engaged in this field.”

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