How Chatbots Can Be A Game Changer For Businesses

by Sohini Bagchi    Sep 14, 2016

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Those of you who remember JARVIS, Tony Stark’s home computing guy in ‘Iron Man’, taking care of every household work, from heating and cooling systems to engine analysis of Stark’s hot rod in the garage, may witness something similar, or even more ‘revolutionary’ in the days to come. Bots are set to rule the world, believe modern scientists. While some of these concepts are overhyped and it’s still early stages, in the digital era, with businesses constantly looking at innovative technologies in the thirst to stay relevant, bot will become a game changer sooner or later.

Just like mobile apps  have been a great progress in the way brands are connecting with their customers, the present era is supposedly about bot apps. And this opportunity is turning out to be bigger and more user friendly than any app platform yet.

Recently, Facebook announced the introduction of bots inside messenger, announcing the official launch in its blog, which reads: Facebook’s Messenger Bot Store is the most important launch since the App Store.

Even though Mark Zuckerberg officially announced the Messenger Platform back in April to reach a massive user base with sales, marketing and customer support messaging, the concept has now gained precedence with global brands such as Tommy Hilfiger launching a chatbot on Facebook Messenger at its New York Fashion Week extravaganza. 

Read more: Messaging As The New Platform

The new initiative created in partnership with artificial intelligence platform, msg.ai, aims to replicate a concierge style of experience through its automated messages. Puneet Mehta, founder and CEO of msg.ai explained the trend. “The consumer and brand relationship is on the cusp of the most significant change since the smartphone. Messaging is becoming the new browser and the gateway to consumer life, with artificial intelligence bots being the new user interface,” he said.

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Hence, TMY.GRL, Tommy Hilfiger is providing consumers with the digital commerce experience of the future such as understand consumer habits, context and intent to better predict and provide the content, information or engagement users are seeking.

The next interface?

If we have to go by definition from the dictionary, a Bot is an automated program inside messenger that can be taught what and how to talk, much like you would teach a child. A “Messenger” Bot is a bot that resides inside Facebook’s Messenger Platform. Experts believe, today’s users are more comfortable with “Chat” than using apps, making chat the most important medium in 2016 and hence chatbots, computer programs that can have automated text conversations with users using artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing are in vogue.

Not only Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, and Slack are a few of the biggest names are already in the game, as 2016, as Hollywood actor and director Chris Messina rightly coined 2016 as the year of conversational commerce.

According to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, AI-powered bots will become the next interface, shaping our interactions with the applications and devices we rely on and Microsoft’s latest solutions are set to change the way a brand interacts with its customers and partners.

“Bots are now learning in human context and the relevant thing for us is to make them intelligent as we learn from customers’ experience” Nadella said at HP’s Global Partner Conference (GPC) 2016 in Boston.

India in the bot race

As the world moves increasingly from social networks to messaging apps, Indian companies are also using this technology to deliver a host of services. Among the early adopters of bots are travel, e-commerce and banking companies, thanks to the repeat value of transactions, the large number of customers and daily use on these platforms. 

ICICI Bank for example has recently deployed ‘Software Robotics’ that emulates human actions to automate and perform repetitive, high volume and time consuming business tasks cutting across multiple applications. At HDFC Bank too, a robot will greet customers and help them with basic information such as transferring money and guide them to the relevant department for getting tasks done.

Read more: Bots Outnumber Humans Online And For Good

Noted technology author and analyst Matt Schlicht mentioned in his blog post that Bots must provide Business Intelligence by performing Sentiment Analysis on customer interactions. In China there is a bot called Xiaoice, built by Microsoft, that over 20 million people talk to. Similarly there are News bot that tell you when ever something interesting happens. 

Experts believe that with large companies opening to bots, a huge ecosystem will develop. Chatbots, especially, are expected to offer enormous value at the workplace, where they could reduce user effort and error in tedious tasks. 

While brands will look at bots to simply automate things, they may also leverage these technologies to seek business value, cost savings as well as for new revenue streams.