The Rabbit R1 demo at CES 2024 has unveiled a captivating concept: an AI interface seamlessly integrating various cloud-based services, a notion that’s not just innovative but increasingly essential in our digitally-driven world. While not entirely new, this idea signifies a seismic shift in how we interact with technology, moving beyond human-centric interfaces to those designed for AI interaction, a domain I’d like to call “AIX” – Artificial Intelligence Experience.
This shift isn’t just a technical evolution; it’s reshaping how we, as users, interact with technology on a daily basis, and how businesses need to rethink their digital strategies.
Digital integration has been done before; but has it been done again?
Let’s dissect this concept further, starting with existing applications like Zapier. Zapier, a trailblazer in this space, streamlines workflows by connecting thousands of different online services and products. Consider how so much of what we do online involves visiting separate websites or apps, logging in, completing the task and then shifting that task onto another piece of software or app to continue. Zapier automates tasks and connects different apps and software together. It acts as a bridge between thousands of different apps and bits of software, allowing them to work together seamlessly. With Zapier, you can create “Zaps,” automated workflows that connect your apps and trigger certain actions based on specific conditions. “Zaps” automate tasks across various apps, such as syncing Dropbox files with Google Drive, automating social media posts, or even managing email marketing campaigns easily. These examples underscore how Zapier simplifies and elevates our digital productivity.
For instance, if you receive a new email in Gmail, you can set up a zap to automatically find a PDF in the email, read the title, and save the PDF into a Dropbox folder where all of the relevant PDFs of that title might be, then send you a notification via WhatsApp or Slack to say: “There’s a new PDF in your folder”.
Another example we had set up in Zapier for our team was to combine all invoices issued that week from Zero into a weekly invoicing report that was then dispatched to the teams at the end of every week via Gmail. We had set up various these into Zapier, including one that automatically emailed clients once their invoice was overdue based on timings/instructions from Xero. More about how Zapier works here.
Uber does this already in a very intent-specific way. Uber links various independent Uber drivers to bring mobility and delivery to users from a range of supermarkets, restaurants and other sources, but it also incorporates third-party services for delivery, including taxis and other transport services.
The Rabbit R1’s proposition pushes this envelope further – even further than other virtual assistants. It suggests a future where AI doesn’t just simplify tasks and workflows but can orchestrate our entire digital ecosystem, like an ultra-smart digital puppeteer.
Move from working on a task to solving a category problem
In this AIX-driven era, companies must invest in this shift, acknowledging that their digital interfaces, products, services, microservices and data are no longer just for siloed human consumption but must be accessible and interpretable by AI agents working across hundreds of services at once. This shift to AIX has profound implications. Firstly, it democratises complex digital interactions, allowing users to manage many services through a single AI interface. It acts as the “digital concierge“, orchestrating almost every imaginable thing you could do – from social scheduling to home DJ to personal assistant to autonomous shopping agent to medical advisor to dietary advisor to personal fitness advisor – and so much more.
Imagine this: Your digital scale and thermometer have noticed you have an elevated temperature and are slightly dehydrated. It talks to an online medical database which advises hydration and a vitamin boost, it then visits your online supermarket and selects some electrolytes and vitamins. It looks at your bank accounts and finds a credit card with the latest statement date and orders using that source of funds. It then looks at your diary and finds the time you will be home and schedules the delivery at an opportune moment. It then uses your electronic doorbell to identify the delivery guy and sends you a notification to your phone. It might then even remind you to take the vitamins regularly.
Obviously, this transition is not without challenges. For businesses, the imperative is clear: adapt or be locked out of these consumer opportunities. Companies must ensure their services are AI-compatible, focusing on machine-readable data and APIs that can seamlessly integrate into broader AI-driven ecosystems.
Most importantly – every organisation must ask itself – does it want to lead? Does it want to play a vital role in delivering AIX? Is there value to be gained? Or is it happy to play a backseat role, where it does the bare minimum to maximise user experience? Assuming it chooses to innovate, capture the greater value and future-proof itself from potential future obsolescence, it must review its digital strategy.
How digital strategy must shift
The evolution towards Artificial Intelligence Experience (AIX) represents a monumental leap in how we interact with digital services. This shift, layering AI-driven experiences on top of human-centred interfaces, is a revolutionary approach that demands a reimagining of digital strategies by businesses across the spectrum. Let’s explore in detail what companies need to do to not just survive but thrive in this burgeoning AIX landscape.
- Embrace API-First Design:
- Develop robust, scalable, and easily accessible APIs, a cornerstone in creating an optimal artificial intelligence experience (AIX) as the backbone of your service.
- Ensure APIs are well-documented and user-friendly for developers, facilitating easier integration into AI-driven platforms.
- NB: Rabbit, Zapier and others don’t use APIs – they simply use your logins to access and interact with. But nevertheless, it’s an API-first design mentality.
- Prioritise Machine-Readable Formats:
- Transition to data formats and structures easily interpretable by AI systems (e.g., JSON, XML). Adopting machine-readable formats such as JSON and XML is crucial for integrating AI into your digital strategy, aligning with the vision of pioneering AI experiences like those offered by Rabbit AI.
- Implement metadata and schema standards that enhance the AI’s ability to understand and utilise your data, content and information.
- NB: Those who have worked with me know how much I have advocated for machine-readable metadata in every way, shape or form for more than 15 years – from me pushing Coles to build the world’s largest machine-readable recipe database in 2009 to our work with the Judicial College of Victoria – ensuring all Victorian legal “Bench Books” are machine-readable – and more.
- Enhancing Data Interoperability in Digital Strategy:
- Foster a system where data can be easily shared and utilised across different platforms and services.
- Adopt common standards and protocols to ensure seamless data exchange and compatibility.
- Enhanced data interoperability is key to effective AI experiences, ensuring seamless integration across diverse platforms and services, a fundamental aspect of innovative AI-driven digital strategies.
- Invest in AI-Ready Infrastructure:
- Investing in AI-ready infrastructure prepares businesses for the evolving landscape of AI experience, aligning with cutting-edge technologies like Rabbit AI for a comprehensive digital strategy.
- Upgrade your digital infrastructure to handle AI-based requests and processes efficiently.
- Focus on scalability to manage the increased data flow and interactions that AI integration will bring.
- Rethink User Experience (UX):
- Rethinking UX to cater to both human users and AI agents is essential in the AI experience era, enhancing the interaction with platforms like Rabbit AI as part of an effective digital strategy.
- Design UX for human users AND AI agents that will interact with your platform. This is not an “either/or”. This is not one of those stupid blog posts where the author tries to win clicks by saying, “UX IS DEAD”. It’s not. AIX is a layer on top of UX.
- Simplify interfaces and workflows to facilitate easier AI navigation and task execution.
- Implement Adaptive Security Measures:
- As AI systems interact with various services, the complexity of security challenges will increase.
- Develop adaptive, AI-driven security protocols that evolve with emerging threats and usage patterns.
- Remember always that holding any data is a privilege, and considering the nature of cross-app logins, security is paramount, otherwise the ability to overwhelm a user’s various apps maliciously becomes particularly dangerous.
- Generate AI-Friendly Content and Metadata:
- Generating AI-friendly content and metadata is pivotal for businesses aiming to leverage AI experience in their digital strategy, as exemplified by innovative platforms like Rabbit AI.
- Design content and services that are easily consumable and actionable by AI systems.
- TAVISH is the model I have created for this very purpose: Text, Audio, Video, Images, Software and Hardware content units, decoupled from channels and linked with robust metadata.
- This includes AI-friendly product descriptions, service offerings, and support systems. I’ve created a GPT that generates this type of metadata from a single image, Content Metadata Maestro.
- Focus on Real-Time Data Processing:
- Invest in technologies that enable real-time data processing and analysis, crucial for AI responsiveness.
- Real-time insights will power AI decisions, enhancing user experience and service efficiency.
- Develop AI Partnerships and Ecosystems:
- Collaborate with AI technology providers and platforms to stay ahead in the AIX game.
- Participate in or create ecosystems that foster innovation and shared learning in AI applications.
- Train Your Team for the AI Era:
- Educate and train your workforce to understand and work alongside AI-driven systems.
- Encourage a culture of continuous learning and adaptability to new technologies.
- Create a culture where there is empathy for various interface “views”. For example, many years ago, the shift from designing for desktop to designing for mobile created an entire new way of working. This is no different.
- Continuous Experimentation and Feedback Loops:
- Implement a culture of experimentation where AI-driven strategies are constantly tested and refined.
- Establish feedback loops that allow for rapid iteration based on user and AI interactions.
In essence, the transition to AIX is not just a technological upgrade; it’s a strategic overhaul that demands a holistic approach. Companies must align their technological capabilities, human resources, and business strategies with the nuances of AI-driven interactions. This is not merely about staying relevant; it’s about pioneering a future where AI and human experiences coalesce to create a more efficient, intuitive, and interconnected digital world. The businesses that grasp this vision and act on it will be the trailblazers, leading us into an era where AI is not just a tool, but a partner in our digital journey.
AI assistants such as the Rabbit R1 aren’t just showcasing a nifty gadget; it’s another strong piece of evidence that we’re witnessing a shift in digital interaction. We are transitioning from user-centric to AI-centric experiences (AIX), where AI agents become the primary navigators of our digital universe. Companies must align with this shift, ensuring their services are user-friendly and AI-compatible. This is not just a change; it’s an evolution, a step towards a more integrated, efficient, and intelligent digital future for businesses and consumers.