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How can I help you? The rise of the chatbot

Conversations With A Banks Chatbot3

As a person who relishes reading and debating the potential disruptive technologies have to change how future generations live, work, and play, I’m fascinated about the meteoric rise in the popularity and practicality of chatbots.

I see a number of factors contributing to this – starting with the improvement in natural language understanding/processing and speech recognition that is accelerating the development of sophisticated chatbots.

While artificial intelligence (AI) technology is pushing us rapidly towards an altered future, there’s a corresponding reduction in resource costs that is very appealing to businesses. This is based in part on the introduction of open source AI tools and frameworks and the ability to process big data in the cloud.

Customers too are driving investment in service technologies, based on their expectation of instant gratification – immediate, accurate answers on the channel of their choice. Add to this the inevitable fact that customers are tired of learning and managing new apps (dubbed app fatigue) and businesses are moving away from investing in new apps due to the massive development, marketing and maintenance costs that, to date, have resulted in disappointing (and reducing) adoption rates.

To remain competitive in a market of dwindling loyalty, businesses have to adopt a customer-centric mindset and that involves constantly enhancing the customer experience, in the most efficient way. With popular messaging platforms such as Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and Wechat embracing chatbot technology as a key part of their long term strategy, IT budget is being redirected from expensive apps to creating and integrating chatbots into existing popular channels.

With the level of funding, focus, adoption, innovation and effort going into chatbots, it’s clear that chatbots are going to become more integrated, not only into business operations, but also into our everyday experiences.

While it’s fun and exciting to think about all of these factors and impacts, it’s even more fun to imagine what our experience is going to be like in a future altered by chatbot capabilities.

Here is an imagined interaction with my bank (digital only of course) in the year 2020 …

Watch this short video:

For a futurist like me, the almost daily introduction of new customer service bots is fascinating … I love seeing what services and information is being offered via this technology.

If you have a favorite bot, please share it with @Striata on Twitter using #chatbot.

Brent Haumann

Brent Haumann

Managing Director, Africa

Brent Haumann is the Managing Director at Striata, Africa. He started with the company in 2005 as a Project Manager and went on to head up Platform Development for over 10 years. Prior to Striata, Brent managed large software implementations for Educos and Deloittes.

His current position includes leading Striata’s South Africa and African regions.

Read more of Brent’s blog posts here or connect with him on the following social channels: