The voice of the future isn’t necessarily a human one. Siri speaks for Apple. Echo speaks for Amazon. Bots are changing the way we search, shop and consume the world around us.
“The term that people keep saying is Apps are so yesterday,” says Sasha Strauss, Founder of Innovation Protocol. “People say Bots are the now. In fact, Bots are the new Apps.”
Apps are ubiquitous. Everyone has them on their mobile devices and no one speaks of them in novel terms. Even my newborn son has an app to help him learn his ABC’s. Apps are literally child’s play. But bots, a type of app that can perform specific repetitive tasks via chat properties in a question and answer format, are being spoken of as the apps’ winning ticket for a comeback.
“Right now consumers open up an app and we may interact on a limited scale but we are using a lot of energy, says Strauss. “We’re texting, typing, taking photos, posting and it’s all our [work] – We want to be lazy! We want the work to be done for us. So, all the tech innovators – Microsoft, Amazon, Apple – they’re all recognizing this behavior and focusing on creating “bots” or robots that will listen to you and do your bidding and it is the future of commerce.”
Why does Strauss have such confidence in bots becoming the new “it” crowd of apps? It starts with the platform for marketing them. Messaging has already overtaken the mobile market. Facebook Messenger, iMessage, WhatsApp, Kik, Viber, Telegram, Line and Hangouts just to name a few. According to Statista, messaging boasts more than 5 times the number of 12 month retentions than other mobile apps, and its these platforms that are encouraging the creation of voice operated bots for their programs. It’s the perfect stage for bots to get some great exposure. (source graphic). In fact, just a month after Facebook launched its Messenger Platform, tens of thousands of developers created chatbots for Messenger.
And these chatty artificial intelligence programs are already catching on in the financial and travel sectors. In fact, Bank of America was one of nearly two dozen companies to say back in April that they planned to use the Facebook Messenger platform to interact with customers through chat bots. Market leaders at the GDS Group CMO Digital Marketing Summit from Bank of America, Prudential Financial and Wells Fargo all said they have data that shows millennials are especially attracted to using the chat bots to help them choose a student loan. The bots ask a few simple questions, offer suggestions, and poof, you learned your first lesson of higher education – it’s expensive.
“Many may marvel at the thought of securing a student loan through an automated bot system, but that’s exactly what many students are doing,” says Strauss. “And that is just the beginning.”
And while you can use your bot to do rather simple tasks like tell you the weather, read your emails, and give you directions, there’s another upside to the bot experience.
“Nobody likes to feel insulted or incapable, so that’s why a lot of times youth won’t get on the phone and have a conversation for fear they could get caught with a mistake,” says Strauss. “If you call a customer service representative and that person is having a bad day and is judging your answers, it really is discomforting. But, a text message and email is confined and controlled. And even more so, when you can talk to a bot, something you can literally yell at and command, it’s a whole different kind of experience.”
So when that chatbot tells you matter of factly that you’re in no place to take out that loan, feel free to let it know exactly how you feel. I certainly did. And I don’t feel the least bit ashamed. Winning.