3 reasons why 2018 will be a breakout year for chatbots!
I love watching a technological revolution unfold right in front of our eyes. My mind goes back to the early days of the Internet and how cool it felt to connect and share with people all over the world. Another example was the unveiling of the iPhone and the app revolution that followed in the years after. I can’t help but see parallels to what is currently happening with AI technology and more specifically conversational AI as seen in chatbots, speechbots, and digital assistants. I believe that 2018 will be a breakout year for this type of AI technology and here is why.
Accessibility and Ease of Use
With all previous technological revolutions there was a leap towards making technology less intimidating and easier to use. For example, America On-Line (AOL) showed people that you don’t have to be a computer programmer in order to go online, chat with people and send an email. Apple did the same thing with the iPhone, people young and old could quickly learn how to use powerful apps with a very intuitive touch UI. Conversational UI takes this to the next level. Chatbots allow people of all ages and technical abilities to interface powerful cloud computers by only using natural language. We are now seeing powerful conversational interfaces used on everything from toys to technology targeting the elderly and people with disabilities. Powerful digital assistants are now becoming the norm on cellphones, home speakers, remote controls and car infotainment systems. This trend is not stopping and I expect to see chatbots integrated into even more places like public spaces, wearables and clothing.
Conversational AI Technology
In the last couple of years we have seen an explosion of cloud technology that powers chatbots. Big players like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook are making significant investments in this arena in order to stake as much ground as possible. All of the above offer some version of speech recognition and natural language processing (NLP) that can be used by third parties to develop powerful bots. Amazon already had the powerful LEX platform but just to show how serious it is about this space it released a slew of other AI services at their most recent ReInvent show in Las Vegas. I personally can’t wait to play around with their new transcription service. Facebook is not too far behind with Wit.ai and Google now owns the very powerful Dialogflow platform. In other words, there is plenty of powerful technologies that will allow developers like myself create the next generation of chatbots.
Another powerful driver is that there are many platforms like Chatfuel and MotionAI (now Hubspot) that allow non-programmers to create very engaging chatbots without writing code. In my opinion, this is a real game changer since it has never been as easy for non-technical people to create and deploy the powerful technology. These platforms are very intuitive and you can literally create a chatbot in minutes. I also think that in the next year we will start to see better bot marketplaces that will make it even easier to buy and deploy bots of all kinds.
According to Grand View Research the global chatbot market is growing at a steady 24.3% per year and is projected to reach $1.23 billion by 2025. Another survey from Oracle found that 80% of marketing and sales executives either used or plan to use chatbots by 2020. There are many more examples indicating that people are warming to the idea of chatting with a bot as long as they get a quick resolution to a problem. Bots will allow companies to engage and service customers 24 hours per day for a much lower cost when compared to employing humans. A hybrid approach is also popular with many bots being designed to handoff the conversation to a human if needed.
Bots also have the benefit of operating in existing communications channels like Facebook Messenger, Skype, KIK, Telegram, Slack, and SMS. This is significant because you don’t have to change user behavior which in my opinion will lead to the even faster adoption of chatbots.
Cheers to the chatbot revolution!
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