7 Questions Business Leaders Must Ask Before Starting on a Conversational AI System

Babar M Bhatti
3 min readSep 13, 2022

An AI-based virtual assistant is a class of conversational AI system which helps with tasks, often in customer care domain. Virtual assistants have sophisticated language (text and voice/speech) capabilities, knowledge retrieval skill, process automation and integration support for enterprise systems such as customer data, voice gateways and for handoff to a live agent.

Building such conversational AI systems can be deceptively hard. The key elements include:

  • Business goals (rules / policies, controls, integrations)
  • Natural Language Capabilities (NLU, NLG) which make the assistant intelligent, helpful and powerful
  • Conversation state and context
  • Capabilities such as search, display, channels
  • Nice to have: low-code UI which allows business users to build flows and tasks

There’s more.

The takeaway for executives and decision makers is that even though most of the technical focus is usually on AI-driven language capabilities there are many other pieces of the puzzle that must fit together to deliver a wholistic solution. The illustration below — inspired by the ML technical debt paper — attempts to drive home this point.

Conversational Assistants — © Babar M Bhatti



Babar M Bhatti

AI, Machine Learning for Executives, Data Science, Product Management. Co-Founder Dallas-AI.org. Speaker, Author. Former Co-founder @MutualMind