Will chatbots really eat apps?

Author Nicola Junior Vitto

I’m recently hearing more and more sentences like: “chatbots will eat apps”, “we are entering the chatbots era”, “2016 is the year of conversational ecommerce” and actually many gurus like Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella predicted that “bots will be as big as apps”.

Is this true? I definitely think that something interesting is happening but we are still at the beginning: Telegram was one of the first IM applications to enable the possibility to develop bots (there are some directories where you can find and try the best bots) but the real revolution started after Facebook hand launched the Messenger Platform with the support to develop bots.

This could be even considered yet another “no interface” (as in the famous book).

So where is the real value of bots? There are some examples on how bots can help on many different fields of a business or the experience of users but I believe that the real value will be on the intelligence and the software capabilities to deliver real time processing of artificial intelligence algorithms. Part of the misfire with the conversational aspect of bots has to do with the fact that natural language processing and artificial intelligence are not yet accomplished at managing human-like conversations.

Sam Lessin, formerly of Facebook and now the co-CEO of Fin, recently outlined this challenge. “None of the bot frameworks that big companies have released or endorsed, like wit.ai, are close to being ready for prime time,” Lessin wrote in his column for The Information. This view is similar to some other conclusions that point out that the future of chat isn’t AI, and that instant interactions are the key.

In the short term, the real value is probably to catch users where they are: it’s a fact that users spend most of their time on chat applications (and most of the time they spend on smartphones is on apps owned by Facebook), so developing bots with value for the users is a frictionless strategy to deliver value without requesting a context-switch (close, install, open and understand another app).

Some more data and ideas are in my recent presentation at the first Italian event about chatbots.
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The new era of bots, multi-channel messaging solutions, dynamic routing and automation of everything


Nicola Junior Vitto

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