If you read our previous write up on virtual reality, we talked about the evolution of content consumption technology. We also discussed how this evolution will lead to content being consumed on a new array of devices. There is a similar evolution in the “messaging app” ecosystem and this evolution is trending towards mass adoption of chatbots.
What is a Chatbot?
A chatbot is a software program designed to simulate conversations with a human over a messaging platform. Chatbots are becoming more intelligent because artificial and machine intelligence are being integrated into chatbot software leading to more meaningful conversations between humans and chatbots.
Types of Chatbots
There are two types of chatbots embedded in email or messaging applications. The first kind takes in a user query and responds based on a rigid set of rules written for the chatbot. This kind of chatbot does not adapt to conversations and only responds to questions its been programmed to answer.
The second kind of chatbot uses artificial or machine intelligence to adapt to questions it’s being asked in any conversation. These kinds have found more popularity on the messaging platform because they mimic the conversation patterns of a human. An example of this kind of chatbot is Xiaoice, a chat bot built by Microsoft, which users can chat with like you would a friend.
What Can Chatbots Be Used For?
Chatbot technology is being used as a new way for companies to engage their user base. This technology is being written into prominent messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Kik, Slack, Whatsapp, and WeChat. Once written into a messaging app, a user can ask a news organization, for instance, for information about the latest news updates as opposed to downloading their app or browsing the web. In essence, as opposed to looking for information, an end user simply has to ask for it.
Another area where chatbots are seeing increasing utility is in the customer service sector. Rather than dealing with a human for information about a company, service or product, users instead converse with a chatbot.
Chatbots are also increasing being used as shopping assistants. An illustration of a chat bot as a shopping assistant would play out as follows. End users open their messaging app, in this instance, we can assume Facebook Messenger, and they look up the Nike chatbot, which they had saved earlier in their contacts list. The user asks the Nike chatbot for attributes regarding a shoe, and the chatbot provides results based on the user’s query. The users then click on one of the results returned by the chatbot and are redirected to a shopping cart from which they purchase a shoe. This process can be repeated until the end users finds a shoe they fancy and make a purchase.
What Messaging Platforms Support Chatbot Integration?
As at the time of this writing, chatbots, as we mentioned earlier, are being written for all the major email and messaging platforms. Some of these platforms include: Facebook Messenger, Kik, Viber, Whatsapp, Slack, and WeChat. We have included a video demo below of a chatbot being used at Facebook’s F8 developer conference.
What Technology Are Chatbots Likely to Disrupt?
Some predict the demise of mobile applications (apps) as a result of chatbot usage. Although there is no way to ultimately predict this, it somewhat makes sense. A mobile app user has to commit storage to hosting an app on their device. Every time the user want to use the app, they have to open it, interact with it, and ultimately deal with the fact it consumes battery life and all the other inconveniences that come with using an app.
A chatbot on the other hand is written into a messaging app, so you don’t need to commit to any one app for its use. You can order an Uber from your Kik app or make reservations at a restaurant on Google Allo.
The applications for chatbots are endless and we can boldly say we are just scratching the surface for this amazing technology. With machine intelligence improving at an exponential rate and the ever-growing popularity of messaging apps, it is safe to say we are on the cusp of another evolution in the way we use the internet and make conversation. By the way, a chatbot did not write this article!
For More information on chatbots use the links we have provided below
- Chatbots – The Complete Beginner’s Guide
- What Is a Chatbot? – Wikepedia article
- What Are Chatbots? And Why Does Bigtech Love Them – NBC Article.
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