Chatbots encountered by smartphone users today might seem fairly crude. But their automated conversations are going to get a lot more useful, technology strategist Michael Wolf says, shaping the outcome of one of the internet’s largest battlegrounds. At issue is the future of messaging, which has become a crucial control point in how users find content and conduct transactions as their patience with specialized smartphone apps fade.
Over the past decade, tech companies have been rallying millions of consumers behind the concept of music as an automated service, rather than as a static product. Online radio and on-demand streaming and curation services have overtaken physical formats as the leading music crowd-pleasers and industry moneymakers.
So, what’s next in the automated music craze? Ironically, a technology that’s already been around for half a century: chatbots.
The State of Chatbots report by Forrester, made it very clear that AI-driven chatbots are currently not overly effective, with messaging as a marketing channel driving app engagement through conversations fueled by people and not bots.
Forrester points out that simple chatbots with a narrow set of potential responses and commands are currently successful, but that most chatbots are disappointing consumers with poor user experiences such as not setting expectations and acting in unexpected ways.
tbots are treated like the simpletons of the artificial intelligence world, overshadowed by movie-trailer-creating Watson and its ilk, or the suggestion engines of huge etailers.
David Shing Alex Fine
But a good implementation of a simple chatbot requires a deft understanding of the interplay between man and machine. And as technology slingshots us forward, the comprehension of this "in-between" space will be a prerequisite for any brand or advertiser hoping to make it in a world profuse with new and amazing digital experiences.
When, and how, do we "hand off" the experience from the machine to the human, and vice versa?
The descendants of Alexa and Siri might come with a surprisingly good sales pitch. The author met an early version of such a persuasive chatbot at a tech conference in Pittsburgh recently. After some small talk and jokes, the bot, called Sara, recommended some other people for the author to meet. The suggestions were in fact excellent, and if he hadn’t just met with them already, the author would’ve followed her lead.