Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella: for the future of chat bots, look at the insurance industry

Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp.
Charles Pertwee | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp.

For an early look into how chat bots are being used commercially, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella suggests looking at the insurance industry.

From sales to customer service, "you're seeing a lot of action in terms of people building bots that have real natural language understanding," Nadella said on Monday at the FinTech Ideas Festival in San Francisco. "We have pilots going on with many many customers."

Like tech giants Google, Amazon and Facebook, Microsoft is letting outside developers use the machine learning tools built in house to make their apps smarter and more responsive. The company introduced its virtual assistant called Cortana in 2014, and in December rolled it out to third-party apps and devices.

Nadella said Microsoft's goal is to commoditize speech recognition, computer vision and text understanding, so that those tools are considered as a standard part of building a business.

"I want to demystify it a little bit," he said.

Uber is using Microsoft's computer vision technology for driver safety, and Nadella said there are all sorts of applications where it makes perfect sense.