Well, Google had all but a few hours in the generative artificial intelligence spotlight with Bard, its ChatGPT answer. It's Baidu's turn.

Baidu, the Chinese technology and search company with a market cap of $49.35 billion, entered the "Who Got Bot" game with an early-morning Tuesday tweet promising the "ongoing development" of ERNIE Bot.

"First proposed as a language model in 2019, ERNIE has made significant progress since then," according to the @Baidu_Inc Twitter handle. "Stay tuned for further updates."

The Point: Why This Article Matters

  • Another AI bot? Baidu has entered the AI market with the development of its own AI chatbot, ERNIE Bot.
  • Three-horse AI race. The development of ERNIE Bot sets the stage for a larger "Race to AI Greatness" in 2023, with Google having recently debuted its own AI search-query bot, Bard, and Microsoft teaming up with OpenAI's ChatGPT.
  • Marketing, customer experience impact. The arrival of ERNIE Bot and Google Bard signals a change in the way content is produced, optimized and made discoverable, and will likely affect customer service as well. Marketers and customer experience professionals should consider integrating generative AI into their strategies, like, now.

Stay Tuned? Hundreds of Millions Are Watching Generative AI

Believe us: the world is staying tuned. 

Baidu's AI market promise with ERNIE Bot sets the stage for an even larger Race to AI Greatness in 2023 than we expected when Google this week debuted Bard, its AI search-query bot and answer to the record-setting ChatGPT by OpenAI. ChatGPT's 100 million monthly-active users set an all-time record for adoption, according to Reuters.

(BTW, Bard vs. ERNIE has a nice ring to it, no? Baidu likely thinks so, too, and played off the American TV classic with ERNIE after Google debuted BERT in 2018, a Natural Language Processing innovation)

What does this all mean to marketers and customer experience professionals? Well, it's not hyperbolic to say this: How you produce content, make your content discoverable and optimize your content will be changed. Your customer service game is likely changed, too. If not now, probably in a few hours.

And, naturally, vendors are already integrating ChatGPT into digital customer experience software:

Optimizely isn't alone. Check out NICE's ChatGPT integration with its cloud native customer service Knowledge Management solution and Intercom's integration with its customer service platform.

Look at it this way: Three of the biggest internet search giants, who have made billions on the Web helping people find information, likely changed their search trajectory in the last couple of weeks:

Learning Opportunities

  • Google (84.08% search market share): On Feb. 6, Google debuts Bard, built upon Google's Language Model for Dialogue Applications or LaMDA, and is designed to help users quickly and easily find the answers to their questions by using advanced machine learning algorithms to understand the intent behind their queries. 
  • Microsoft (9%): On Jan. 23, Microsoft partners with OpenAI and invests $10 billion. OpenAI officials say the "multi-year, multi-billion dollar investment from Microsoft follows their previous investments in 2019 and 2021, and will allow us to continue our independent research and develop AI that is increasingly safe, useful, and powerful." Watch for Bing integrations, too.
  • Baidu (0.65%): On Feb. 7, China's largest search engine (86% of market share) teases the arrival of its own bot, ERNIE Bot.

SEO strategies will likely shift. Domain authority strategies will likely, too. What's a marketer or customer experience professional's first move? Get busy integrating generative AI into customer experience and marketing outcomes, for starters. And we know that's happening in the digital customer experience space.

Baidu's ERNIE Bot: Four-Year Innovation Process

Meanwhile, Baidu officials touted a nearly four-year project with ERNIE — which stands for  Enhanced Representation through Knowledge Integration — and their bot is expected to hit the streets next month:

It released ERNIE 1.0 and claimed in its Tweet today that it "beat BERT on Chinese tasks." (An MIT report highlighted the Bert-ERNIE competition.) Google's NLP pre-training system stands for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers, and it "enables anyone to train their own state-of-the-art question answering system." 

Baidu's ERNIE Bot development continued over the next four years and started to gain steam for a release in March at the end of last month.

When it comes to Chinese technology, let's not forget there's also the issue of security if you look at this from an American standpoint. US President Joe Biden banned Chinese-made TikTok from government devices and could possibly enact a similar regulation for US consumers. That's all speculation at the moment, however, and there are no signs of government intervention with China's AI innovations.

As for Baidu the company, stocks were up nearly 12% Tuesday morning after the formal announcement of the ChatGPT, and now Google Bard, rival, ERNIE Bot.

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