Chatbot Trends - June 2017
Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and Reid Hoffman. All influential technology leaders and all have a viewpoint on chatbot and AI trends.
Musk worries that artificial intelligence is a real threat to humanity, Zuckerberg is busy building his Jarvis-esque home automation AI assistant while Hoffman is backing research in the societal impact of AI.
Nobody knows the trends that AI and chatbots will make; there is only one certainty. It is not going anywhere.
We have seen plenty of emerging chatbot trends in business, most of the successful ones use more intelligent AI-based solutions rather than the more simple flow-based.
- Scheduling assistants like x.ai
- Brand ambassadors like the PG tips Monkey
- Personal assistants like Sharon
- Financial analysts like Erica
- Market intelligence agents like GrowthBot, and,
- Social media solutions like Edgar
It is evident from this list alone, the most popular trend in chatbots is in the creation of an assistant-assisted relationship between machines and humans.
In healthcare, we see machines help humans diagnose medical conditions and go through adherence programmes.
In finance, we see machines make investment recommendations on asset holdings, propensity to risk-aware advice and simple statement notifications.
In publishing, we see on-demand content curation and delivery.
For commercial product selection and purchase, we see intelligent sales assistants and machine driven up- and cross-selling.
In July 2016, Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella said:
"Chatbots will fundamentally revolutionize how computing is experienced by everybody."
It is true.
The chatbot trend is lowering the barrier in making machines do what we want and need them to do. Soon, conversational software will enable people to talk to computers naturally. We will engage in human-machine 'conversation' to consume information and organise our world.
Chatbots are not new; we have been trying to figure out how to talk to the machine since machines were invented.
Recently, several global consumer and commercial developments have accelerated the rapid growth in chatbot development and adoption.
Mobile messaging via messaging applications such as Facebook Messenger and WeChat have become the preferred way for people to communicate via their mobile phones. Basically, consumers have moved from social networking to social messaging.
Huge companies like Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon, entered the conversational commerce and conversational software markets. In 2016, Microsoft and Facebook both announced support for third-party bot development on their platforms. Almost overnight, the potential audience for chatbots was well over one billion people. And, who now hasn't heard of Alexa?
Humans are bored of downloading and using mobile applications. Research shows the average mobile phone user has 30 installed applications but use less than five regularly. Almost a quarter of mobile app users (23%) stop using an app after opening it once.
A chatbot is (comparatively) cheap to build. Simple chatbots (non-AI based) can be considerably faster to develop, launch and maintain than mobile and web applications. This lower-cost and rapid development lends itself to iterative testing and quick test launches to assess take up and popularity.
So, in summary, what is the latest chatbot trend?
We will continue to see investment by large brands who are building assistance-based machine-led conversational solutions. These chatbots will be launched quickly, iterated often and tweaked to deliver content and services in a way no other delivery method can.