Latest news

AI ahead: How will AI chatbots impact communication?

28 Sep, 2023

“We are getting to the point where if a machine doesn’t understand your language, it will be like it never existed,” Prof Vukosi Marivate, Associate Professor of Computer Science at the University of Pretoria and a panellist at the MACE 2023 Directors’ Symposium, said in an earlier call to action.

Topics related to artificial intelligence (AI) and its effects on everyday lives – including how we communicate, especially in the wake of the explosive popularisation of ChatGPT less than a year ago – have been the most buzzed-about debates of this year, even more so among those of us for whom communication is a large part of our daily work.

In an era marked by the rapid advancement of technology, AI chatbots have emerged as a transformative force, poised to reshape the landscape of communication. As AI chatbots continue to evolve, their impact on communication is becoming increasingly profound.

Some of the key changes taking place that could impact communications and marketing include:

  • Customer service/ support: US research firm Gartner’s annual report on trends related to artificial intelligence indicates that, by 2025, 80% of customer service interactions will be handled by AI chatbots. In the higher education context, many institutions are already making use of scripts and bots to respond to the most common enquiries from students and parents – but we can expect the AI’s capabilities to improve rapidly, enabling a wider scope of what AI can be trusted to respond to.


  • Facilitating easier multilingualism: AI chatbots are democratising communication by breaking down language barriers. These bots can translate and transcribe conversations in real-time, making it easier for people from diverse linguistic backgrounds to interact. Rapid expansion in this capability could have significant implications in a highly diverse country such as South Africa, with 12 official languages used in our classrooms. This could also make translating and re-publishing material in various SA languages much more cost-effective.


  • Personalised marketing: One of the most significant advantages of AI chatbots is their ability to collect and analyse user data. By monitoring user behaviour, preferences, and past interactions, chatbots can offer highly targeted and personalised marketing content. They can recommend products, tailor promotions, and deliver content that resonates with individual customers. This level of personalisation has proven to be a game-changer in boosting marketing ROI.


  • Data-driven insights: AI chatbots generate valuable data and insights about customer behaviour and preferences. These insights enable companies to refine their marketing campaigns, identify trends, and adapt to changing consumer demands quickly.


  • Multi-channel marketing: AI chatbots seamlessly integrate with various communication channels, such as social media, email, and websites. This multi-channel capability allows businesses to maintain consistent messaging and branding across platforms, ensuring a cohesive and effective marketing strategy.