Chat Bots Are the Future of Work
By Jim Lundy
The future is here and it is called chat bots. At least that is the geek term being used by VCs in Silicon Valley.
Our term is mobile collaboration-based digital assistants, but let’s not quibble over names. The future is about conversational interfaces in mobile collaboration apps. This blog is about the rise of messaging-based chat bots.
Chat Bots: First Generation Digital Assistants
The big deal about chat bots is that they allow an application to have a conversation with a human or in some cases, with another app. Some are very basic and for some, the chats might be disappointing. However, for very simple tasks, such as Grocery Lists, they work great.
The rise of chat bots means that more business will be done using these lightweight, first generation digital assistants. The ability to automate tasks is what the future of work is all about and chat bots will be commonplace by 2017. For this year, it is the year to get in the game.
Chat Bots and Conversational User Interface
The reason that chat bots change the game is that the mobile phone (via the mobile collaboration app) becomes a Conversational User Interface. Examples of what types of conversations include conversations to a human such as, “Would you like to book this restaurant?” or, “Would you like to confirm this flight?”
While there is hype around this, there have been some early apps, such as Tripit Pro (owned by Concur, which is owned by SAP) that have early, light examples of chat bots. Tripit Pro tells you it is time to check in to a hotel and provides you with details on flight delays etc.
Chat Bots: Who’s in the Game?
There are already many players in the game. Facebook has been leaking information about “M,” its messenger chat bot service for a few months now to try to counter and slow down Slack, which has a fund to encourage the development of Slack Bots.
Google is working on chat bots, too—it leaked stories to the Wall Street Journal last December. They already have them for translation but more are coming. Expect to hear about them at their Developer Conference.
Microsoft announced Skype Bots, including video-based Skype Bots last week at Build. Most of the Skype Bots will be in beta this year.
Kik, which has over 240 million registered users, just added a Bot App Store. It features consumer brands such as Sephora (makeup tips) and the Weather Channel (personal weather).
Slack has made making basic bots easy, but remember, they are very basic for things like list building and reminders.
For those that want to make their own, Chatbots.io (referred to as Pandorabots) offers a compelling service that already has a number of third-party apps in production using their platform. Chatfuel is also getting funding and attracting attention.
So, there will be much more to discuss about chat bots, but the future of work is here and it is about chat-based interactions with machines that will do things for you. The question is, how many chat bots will you really want to have in your life? We will be talking (and chatting) about chat bots much more as this part of the mobile collaboration market unfolds. Developing…