As with most technologies, like GPS, apps and VR, they might start out in their own little bubble but are soon adopted by a wider range of services that can make use of them. The same is true with chatbots, with the underlying language features making their mark in other areas.
You might think a chatbot is just a chatty piece of code, but behind the front end are smart cloud services to handled the analytics and delivery, AI features to understand semantics, use of language and translation, plus a host of options to link the conversation to other databases, about the customer, the business, a store or local information.
All of that comes together as-a-service to deliver what we know of as the chatbot. But, already features like natural language processing and AI translation tools are being used elsewhere, to create real-time avatars, deliver services in new ways, and we’re still only at the formative stages of chatbot technology.
Take for example this video of a Microsoft exec, Julia White took to the stage to show off a hologram avatar of herself translating her voice, using a mix of AR, VR, neural text-to-speech and voice analysis, all in real-time. It could provide the basis of how future world leaders, lecturers and other luminaries could address the planet or a global audience all in their native tongues to bypass the usual delay in addressing important issues or helping boost education around the globe.
Yes, this all uses Microsoft cloud tech and HoloLens, but soon could be offered by many providers using nothing more than a webcam as the hardware simplifies and becomes a software solution.
Bots Selling on Social Media
There are hundreds of thousands of chatbots on Facebook Messenger, but few in the core app and even less on Twitter, which you would imagine is ideal fodder for bot conversations. A new example of how that will change fast is Kari, the car-dealing chatbot on Twitter, who will soon help Nigerian drivers sell their car online.
Kari and her like could help move trading and selling to new platforms away from their usual haunts, widening the opportunity to buy and sell. These types of bots are screaming for further development with huge existing databases of cars, boats, holiday homes, home electronics and other goods for sale, and people talking about their wants and needs on social media.
So, when someone says “thinking of looking for a cheap Mercedes” on a social media platform, one of these bots could leap into action with the right models near then, and then help drive the sales conversation to a successful conclusion. If the bot vendor gets to take a slice of the cost, these types of proactive stores could massively disrupt the eBays and other sellers of the old digital world.
Bots Joining the Wider Customer Service Effort
As chatbots become a feature of new and exciting technology, they will also expand into more familiar technology. Take Pizza Hut in Australia who will use a bot to take over phone calls to speed up ordering and getting in touch with a local branch.
Call-steering is already a feature in many enterprise contact and customer service solutions, but will soon be everywhere, allowing agents to direct appropriate calls to a talking bot, web chats to be diverted to an agent when needed and so on.
The problem for many early bots was that they sat in isolation on a web page, in Messenger or elsewhere. This type of development will see bots accessible everywhere and anywhere as part of the furniture of customer service, interacting with other types of contact point, helping save more time and effort, and further speeding up the customer in the direction of a resolution or solution.
These are just three recent examples of bot technology in action today, making waves in new ways, and helping redefine what we think a chatbot is, how it can work for us as consumers or a business, and how they, or the smart parts that make them, become part of other technologies. Soon we won’t think of chatbots as chatbots, but as another part of the technology landscape, helping us get on with our days, from our self-driving car, to helping with out entertainment and holidays.
Chris Knight writes about where technology will take us next, from the power of neural networks, artificial intelligence and chatbots, to the endless worlds promised by augmented and virtual reality. From the latest in gadgets and hardware to how digital businesses can use technology to grow, Chris makes the future clear and understandable to all.