By Bhavin Turakhia
There is a lot of hype around chat bots these days, especially in the domain of free chatting software. What was gaining momentum over the couple of years, gathered extra hype when Facebook declared its new chat bot platform for its messenger app. The momentum continued to expand as Microsoft launched Bot Framework for easy development of chat bots that can be used for different messaging platforms such as Skype, WeChat, etc. All the excitement surrounding chat bots in enterprise messaging raises one question - is it wise to jump on the chat bot bandwagon just because chat bots have taken centre stage? And whilst the value of chat bots cannot be downplayed, shouldn’t it be treated as a bonus rather than an end-all feature or product?
The rise of chat bots in enterprise messaging
The endless possibility of all that chat bots can do have increased conversations among enterprise communication apps to incorporate bots with the aim to provide a richer user experience. We also have some bots like the To-do bots, reminder bots and poll bots, and we can easily say that these bots are giving business enterprises an edge over other traditional methods of team communication. A poll bot, for example, can help teams gather inputs on everything from where to go to lunch to which policy changes need to be implemented. What would otherwise require a lengthy discussion can now be solved in a relatively shorter time frame. Furthermore, open API developer platform will give enterprises the ability to build their own apps and chat bots. Increasingly this will create an entire ecosystem, allowing enterprises to create all the essential aspects of the work world around the app.
There is much more to enterprise messaging than just chat bots
Enterprise messaging, which includes free chatting software, has now entered a brand new phase where companies have carved out large and growing businesses by changing the standard of team communication. Apart from effectively using chat bots, business communication tools are also constantly developing various other features that simplify communication, boost organizational productivity, and provide customization that the consumer will find both useful and attractive.
From developing smoother APIs to allowing better integration, free messaging services for businesses are seeking to supply the growing demand for real-time solutions, the green IT initiative of enterprises and the increased demand for virtualization and adoption of cloud based solutions. New and advanced features are being rolled out constantly by instant messaging for business enterprises and not all are chat bot technology. Video calls, screen sharing, auto hide of .gif files, a way to fix spelling mistakes in sent messages, a wide range of emoticons and stickers, easy webhook and app integration, and missed conversation alerts are some of the many features that offer the user a richer experience. This only marks the beginning, in the near future we will see many organizations and developers collaborate to build their own apps and chatbots suited to their specific requirements.
Bots will have their place but it’s a buzz that will soon pass
Developers are trying to force fit use cases into a bot and some just won’t work. This is because far more things are more conducive as an app than as a bot. Take for example, trying to book an airline ticket on a travel bot. It will be five times more cumbersome than using an app. While an app has an interactive interface, search options, filters and tap and choose options, a bot will have a synchronous interface, and a type and request for response option. Booking the ticket can be done much quicker and with fewer taps on an app than using a chat bot. Bots on the other hand are more suited for notifications, quick answers, and small and simple tasks. For example, a weather bot will be of great use to a frequent traveler, who can be notified of the weather every time he lands in a new city. Bots will also work great in calendaring use cases and Q & A use cases. So although bots have their place within an app, they are definitely not the next best thing since sliced bread. The current hype is being overplayed and will soon pass.
The future of enterprise messaging will involve bots and apps coexisting
Although chat bot technology is still at a nascent stage, the hype around chat bots indicates that bots will replace apps in the same way as there was a paradigm shift from desktop apps to browser apps and browser apps to mobile apps. This is highly unlikely. Rather, bots and apps will coexist, with apps playing a far more important role, until the next big shift comes along. The most anticipated course for the future will probably be the overlap of Artificial Intelligence, Natural Language Processing and Bots Platform that will bring a richer user experience for team communication. User experience, however, will be of prime importance, with ease of use and functionality being the primary motivators. The future of enterprise messaging is still developing and has a huge and unexplored potential, making it a ripe area for developers to leverage their creativity, skill and knowledge.
The author is CEO and Founder, Flock
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Updated Date: Jul 12, 2016 13:01:17 IST