With messaging apps fast progressing into the platforms of future, chatbots are not far behind. About 80% of businesses are planning to incorporate chatbots by the year 2020. What is driving this shift towards chatbots?
1. Computing Advancements
The most significant factor driving the shift towards chatbots is couched in Moore’s Law. Today, heavy applications can be processed through cheaper computing, which was previously considered prohibitively expensive. Chatbots are now being integrated with messaging apps. Cloud computing and integration are making this possible, as powerful integration techniques can be leveraged to ensure synchronization of apps with API. The emergence of conversational interfaces is turning to the chatbot as an independent and universal entity that can adapt to the tone and subject used in any given context.
2. Advances in Machine Learning
At Build 2016, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella opined that the industry is on the threshold of leveraging the power of advanced machine intelligence and natural human language. Deep learning algorithms are proving to be instrumental in solving problems that were at one time too complicated to be solved with traditional software programs. Chatbots have gained a self-learning ability through intent classification and pattern matching to interact with the user in natural language thanks to advances in machine learning.
3. Static to Conversational Interfaces
Customer preferences have moved from static interfaces to conversational interfaces. Today's clients want their issues resolved immediately, tasks to be accomplished easily, and information to be found quickly. A conversational interface provides a human-like connection and talks with the user in his or her own terms. Intelligent agents like Alexa and Siri have demonstrated how to successfully sustain a conversation with customers.
4. Human Touch
Chatbots are built to serve different purposes. No matter its purpose, a chatbot brings the human touch and is more personal. As mentioned, chatbots speak to the user in his or her own terms; they also change how they respond to the user based on user input. When the user interacts with a chatbot, he or she gets the feeling of chatting with a human on the other side. The user feels special with a devoted, human-personified chatbot that is there to assist wherever and whenever it's needed.
5. Surge of Messaging Apps
As of January 2017, Whatsapp had 1.3 billion monthly users. Also, Facebook acquired two billion monthly active users as of the second quarter of 2017. Kik, on the other hand, has amassed more than 275 million global users as per Forbes. People are using messaging apps more than they use social networks. Messaging apps make it easy for brands to converse, build a relationship, and gain traction with their target audience. With the amount of messaging app users expected to cross 2.10 billion by 2017, chatbots will enter the messaging mainstream.
6. App Fatigue and Expensive App Development
Apps were once personified as "the software gold rush." However, the process of downloading an app on top of the dozen other apps on the mobile device is hard on the customer. The novelty of apps is wearing off, paving the way for app fatigue. Research from Nomura reported a 20% decline in app downloads for 15 leading app publishers in the U.S. for the month of May 2016 as compared to the previous year.
For customers, it is prompt service all the way — whether they want to order pizza, book a restaurant, or check weather updates. App fatigue has made messaging apps an ideal alternative to waiting, and chatbots are being developed and integrated with messenger platforms to make prompt service possible. Unlike expensive app development, building a chatbot is relatively inexpensive.
7. Going Viral
Users are spoiled with so many options for apps to download. But it is only the top 50 apps that are popular and downloaded by a majority of users. The remaining apps find it difficult to attract and retain customers. With chatbots living on messenger platforms, it becomes easy to promote frictionless interactions with clients — and creating a good chatbot experience can lead to that experience getting spread virally. For example, Roll, a fun chatbot built by Kik, made its way from zero users to half a million users within 30 days.
8. Easy Installation and Engagement
Chatbots are lightweight in the context of messaging platforms. They are easy to create and make it easy to have good user interactions. They have reduced friction, allowing users to reduce time in realizing their needs and wants. The chatbot rush is further fuelled by the ability to afford easier engagement, easier discovery, and easier installation. The ability of chatbots to respond well to user’s intent and their "always on" nature keeps the user excited and engaged.
Chatbots are marching ahead to become the next prevalent form of communication. In a world rich in conversations, the gap between man and machine is being closed with the chatbots because they bring a human touch to user conversations.