Facebook's digital assistant 'M' could deliver retail sales

Facebook is testing a new personal digital assistant. "M" will live inside the social media company's Messenger communications app and could advance m-commerce.

"Unlike other AI-based services in the market, M can actually complete tasks on your behalf," David Marcus, Facebook's VP of messaging products, wrote in a Facebook post. "It can purchase items, get gifts delivered to your loved ones, book restaurants, travel arrangements, appointments and way more."

Facebook's M certainly isn't the first digital assistant, but it marries some of the best aspects of those already out there. According to The New York Times, M combines Apple's Siri, and its ability to respond to verbal commands and requests, with newer apps such as Operator and Magic, which use live customer service representatives to fill requests.

M uses algorithms and paid employees to train the digital assistant to deliver intelligent results.

M is currently in beta testing and available to a limited number of users. One such tester—Jackson Fall, head of product at Wealthcoin—has already reported an early ease-of-use that bests other such assistants by scheduling regular reminders and finding nearby retailers.

Retail applications are among the most expected uses and could prove to drive sales, both online and in physical stores. Younger users in particular are more likely to use Facebook and other social media sites as the starting point in the shopping journey.

In March, Facebook began testing peer-to-peer payments in Messenger as the social media company seeks to grow the app as a separate entity from the online social network. In June, it added a buy button to facilitate in-feed shopping.

"This is early in the journey to build M into an at-scale service" Marcus said. "But it's an exciting step towards enabling people on Messenger to get things done across a variety of things, so they can get more time to focus on what's important in their lives."

For more:
-See this Facebook post
-See this New York Times story
-See this TheNextWeb News article

Related news:
Facebook adds P2P payments to Messenger app
Facebook launches place tips, tests beacons
Facebook buys shopping search engine The Find
Facebook, Twitter ready to enter $15B social commerce arena
Social media increasingly leading the m-commerce charge