Hot or Not? The Future of Bots for Brands

First things first. What the heck is a Bot?

Simply defined, bot technology itself, or the ability to simulate conversation with a computer automatically, has been around for many years. More recently, however, bot tech, or ‘chatbots’ as they are often hyped, is defined as software designed to automate a variety of tasks previously performed by a user, such as making an appointment or reservation, as well as fetching and returning requested information. Today, most bots are available within messaging apps.

“This technology offers a new human interface, which is particularly interesting since much of the current human interaction with technology is through a screen, a very old-fashioned approach. Interacting with chatbots won’t require any particular setup; the technology will simply understand and do as the human asks.” – Gartner IT Research Analysts

The quick rise in popularity and availability of AI for business and consumer use has ushered in a new level of technology that promises to significantly impact human-computer interaction with the potential to revolutionize the customer experience in almost every market. About one year ago, Facebook announced its intent to integrate bots into its Messenger app, potentially delivering this bot tech to over 1 billion Messenger users.

While some companies, such as Starbucks, Domino’s and Taco Bell among others have introduced bots that were well received by their customer bases, an unfortunate majority of companies have introduced bot tech, only to elicit a negative response from consumers due to poor initial performance, lack of usability and overall falling far short of expectations.

In fact, this led Facebook to announce in March that it plans to ‘refocus’ its application of AI technology after chatbots hit a failure rate of 70%. But does this mean the end for bot tech?

By all indications, bot tech is only in its infant stage but it appears to be here to stay. The current failure rate is mere evidence of a technology in the trial phase and speaks to the need for developers to further hone the tech’s capabilities, while at the same time better manage user expectations along the journey. As big data analytics becomes fully entrenched in business and marketing strategy, AI and bot tech will continue to evolve and serve as a powerful delivery system for more personalized, more productive and, most importantly, more profitable customer engagement experiences for those companies who choose to embrace as well as invest in the vast potential of these emerging technologies.

The ‘conversation’ will continue…

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Merit is the global leader in market invention. More often than not, our work carves out an entirely new market and transforms industry through research and strategy, communications, creative, and technology. For a company to succeed in the new era of marketing, it needs Merit.

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