Are the ChatBots a revolution?
Two months ago Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced their Chatbot platform for Messenger. Generating a lot of buzz. Chatbots have been here for a while, but this announcement has been definitely the tipping point: Microsoft, Google or Apple came next.
Does it make sense? Yes, Chatbots make a lot of sense: they are multi-device by definition, native in conversational services, the user’s choice, and on top of everything, smart.
They might not be the panacea for just everything. We don’t believe Chatbots are about compressing an app or website inside a chat, but as long as you stick to anything you can manage inside a normal conversation, they are fabulous: as an interactive and bi-directional channel, cost-efficient and a nice business intelligence tool, among others.
While websites and apps had a profound impact, Chatbots represent a fresh opportunity for many industries, and they contribute from a totally different and interesting perspective: design no longer depends on color but on personality or consumer support isn’t driven by product features, all focus shifts to the consumer’s demands and language.
Summing up, there’s a lot of pressure from the big ones, they feel convenient and they bring a new and fresh trend to several industries. So, the next question is: how developers are responding to them? At the end, they are the ones who validate the technology.
It is true that Terminator, Iron Man and Sci-Fi in general damage the perspective of what they are capable of doing in the short term, a lot of technology has still to come. When we speak about IA the general public assumes that only a few are capable of actually giving a good service (IBM’s Watson?) but we find really interesting how the Chatbot industry has started widely “democratized”.
Let’s go back in time.
Pioneers in the use of IA in the decade of the 90’s, the Chatbots were a technology ahead of its time that had no place in a humanity, so we will consider they starting point this 2016.
Websites came first. It is true that the world wide web was a major breakthrough, probably the biggest in history because of its implications, and it is also true that only a few really understood what everything was all about at the beginning. This biases the conclusions, but still, figures allow us to picture the impact.
It took some time for the web to explode, almost 4 years, and when that came it took 12 months to reach the first 10.000 websites.
The moment when everyone understood that “if you are not on the internet you don’t exists”, as Bill Gates stated, took a while. Gradually, many companies have been managing the majority of your services and economic activity across the web with more or less success. Currently, it is estimated that the number of websites exceeds one billion.
It was then the moment of the app ecosystem, in 2008, with the appearance of mobile devices that offered new connections and touchscreens. The concept was not difficult to understand: a direct access of the companies to the clients optimizing the benefit that could be obtained from virtual and touchy way.
Apple’s app store launched in 2008, by the end of 2009 it had 10.000 apps submitted. That’s more than a year. Nowadays we can find in Google Play 2,2 million apps and 2 million in iTunes.
Last but not least, Chatbots.
In the first 2 months there are over 10.000 Chatbots on their way: they are being massively adopted. Being simplistic in the analysis, compared to the web explosion (years), app explosion (year), the Chatbots have rapidly gained a lot of attention (2 months).
This might be due to other factors not covered here like lower learning curve or far more development muscle, but still, the points we’ve covered at the beginning are there. Even more if we look the numbers behind apps like design and maintenance cost or competition over daily usage time.
Companies will have a wide range of possibilities at a lower cost to generate business in a more natural and empathic way, taking advantage of an enormous network provided by big platforms like Facebook or Telegram, and it looks like “the community” has totally understood this.
Facebook Messenger Head of Product Stan Chudnovsky, states: “If we can make it easier for people to communicate with businesses, that seems like a massive opportunity”. We couldn’t agree more.