First there was Apple’s Siri, then Microsoft’s Cortana, and now Facebook is introducing ‘M’, its own digital personal assistant. Facebook users in the Bay area will be the first to test out the feature and will be asked to provide feedback so that Facebook can monitor its performance.
So what makes ‘M’ unique compared to its well-established competitors? The first thing to understand about ‘M’ is that it acts like one of your Facebook friends in Facebook’s Messenger app. All you have to do is open up Messenger, choose ‘M’ to have a conversation with, and start asking ‘M’ to perform tasks! ‘M’ is powered by AI, but the most interesting aspect of the service is that it’s also powered by real people. Facebook’s goal with this hybrid service is to open up the range of possibilities to cover more complex tasks. Instead of asking Siri to find a number for a restaurant so that you can make a reservation, ‘M’ will do the entire task for you!
‘M’ is also unique in that it asks followup questions and narrows down results based on your needs. This makes the ‘M’ service far more personalized than the competition. ‘M’ will also learn the behaviors of its users so that it can better adapt to situations. The people operating ‘M’ have customer service experience and will be capable of making judgment calls that a regular AI-based system can’t. And since ‘M’ is powered by people it can also do things that only people can, like waiting on hold while you try to get in touch with the cable company!
Facebook is hoping to increase ‘M’s role in the future by hiring thousands of customer service specialists to oversee the operations. The company hopes that ‘M’ will represent a significant revenue stream that will make it possible to sustain itself. If certain companies seem to be benefitting from the ‘M’ service then it’s possible that Facebook could partner with these companies to create more efficiency. For instance, if users are frequently using ‘M’ to hail Ubers, then Facebook could realistically partner with Uber in new and interesting ways.
‘M’ promises to be a powerful new tool for Facebook that will keep users operating within the Facebook environment. Keep an eye on this one!
Read the full article here: Facebook Launches M, Its Bold Answer to Siri and Cortana