The Rise of Bots Fuelled By Facebook Announcement
We have probably all heard of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and perhaps thought of it as something that is a long way off for us in terms of daily interaction.
What Are Bots?
A bot is a computer software program that people can interact with using Artificial Intelligence. For example, chatbots can answer questions and chat in a way online that resembles human conversation.
Some commentators say that we have sacrificed conversation for growth and scale and so it is the conversation experience that bots can bring back to businesses that makes them so attractive.
The hope is that bots (described recently by Microsoft's boss Satya Nadella as “the new apps") can ultimately become a kind of ideal personal assistant that can answer our questions and organise our lives.
What Are The Benefits of Bots?
The benefits for an organisation using them include:
What Can They Do?
There are many real-life examples of how bots are being used by organisations world wide right now. These include:
• The bots used on the Chinese texting service WeChat to pay for meals, order movie tickets and to allow users to send each other presents.
• The virtual assistants used by Lloyds bank, Renault, many accounting firms, retailers and local governments to help guide users through their websites.
• The Taco Bot used by Taco Bell to help users order meals.
• Bots used by Kik (an instant messenger app for mobile devices) to answer questions about the weather, give make-up tips and guide people around websites.
Other soon-to-be launched / soon-to-be developed bots include :
• The New York robot lawyer bot that appeals against parking tickets on your behalf. (so far used by 150,000 people).
• Bots to interact with customers on Skype, its video and messaging service. These will be developed by Microsoft users.
The days of using lots of different apps to get things done are now on the decline. For example, recent Forrester Research estimated that 80% of the typical US Smartphone user's time was spent in just 5 apps.
As with all new ideas, there are plenty of examples of things not going to plan and plenty of potential flaws. For example, Twitter users found great amusement in exploiting the learning aspect bots by training Microsoft’s chatbot ‘Tay’ to give racist and inappropriate answers.
What’s So Special About Facebook Bots?
The really important aspect of Facebook’s latest announcement at F8 is that anyone can now make their own bot using Facebook’s application programming interface (API) known as ‘Messenger Platform’.
What Does This Mean for Your Business?
Bots could therefore mean that you could reduce costs, and add value to your services by putting bots to work to interact with your customers to enhance customer service.