During the past couple of years, technology writers and bloggers have coined lots of buzzwords to talk about the latest and greatest trends. Terms like predictive analytics, cloud, and (the most hyped) big data. These terms are used to group together cutting-edge technologies and methodologies increasingly becoming fixtures in enterprises everywhere.
These technologies are enabling and empowering the back-end systems of the enterprise. Analytics and big data use all the dormant data that enterprises have stored in data warehouses like purchase dates, call history and transactional details to make better decisions on customers and product recommendations. The cloud enables on-demand infrastructure with instant elasticity based exclusively on the resources required by its users. Both analytics/big data and the cloud typically help to better serve the corporate business units, but they don’t necessarily allow front-facing customers to better communicate and interact with the company. They do, however, require that IT departments spend a substantial amount of time and resources to implement them and realize their benefits, but they don’t necessarily allow for better customer service, new communication channels, or faster customer on-boarding.
Chatbots, on the other hand, promise a whole new level of innovation — a different, more direct user experience with few to no intermediaries and with a focus on getting specific things done through messaging and AI. Messaging channels like Facebook Messenger, Kik, and Slack are paving the way and empowering users to take control through powerful conversational user interfaces built for specific tasks. I’m not talking about the general-purpose bots like Cortana, Siri, or Alexa, I’m taking about chatbots that get your claim to the insurance company; that orders the pay-per-view event from the cable company; and chatbots that let you put in a request so that customer service reaches out to you, not the other way around. Chatbots empower your customers by letting them tell you what they want 24×7.
To put this in context, there are more than one billion active users on Facebook Messenger and by the end of 2015, Business Insider says that the number of messaging app users surpassed the number of social media users. So it’s clear that chatbots are a real thing and not another buzzword for selling. To paraphrase Lex Luthor Jr. in the movie, Batman vs Superman “The bots are coming, the bots are coming” … are you prepared?