Chatbots. From a german perspective.

Tomy Chatbot by Michele M.F., CC BY-SA 2.0, https://flic.kr/p/5hKaEg

Sometimes it feels like to live on a exotic island. The “Datenschutz” guards us germans from everything “bad” like Facebook Pages, WhatsApp, Google or even chatbots. Probably it will soon delete the World Wide Web at all…

[Warning: This text contains sarcasm. ]

But while the whole world tries to understand chatbots and the technology behind it, it seems that Germany wants to get rid of chatbots one could say.

Why do we have to discuss if it’s ok for everyone that a brand uses a automated Natural Language Process guided chatbot to offer a personal service?

On my “exotic german island” the main questions are: where is the f*ckin’ imprint of your social media account and does everybody know who & what is going on with the shared data while talking with a branded chatbot.

Ok, I calm down. Let’s have a look at the special messenger situation in Germany right now.

Germany is the hood of WhatsApp

You can widely feel and see the shift in the digital communication from public (social networks) to privacy (messaging apps).

In Germany we have a situation which is from a marketing perspective like a big joke.

Question: Do you know a country where you have nearly so many people using WhatsApp (far more than 35m) like people actively using the internet (58m)?

Right, it’s Germany. But at the same time we don’t have any marketing opportunities on WhatsApp because of its advertising policy.

Ok, it’s not the end because Facebook got another messenger in it’s portfolio what could become the number one in Germany. It offers in comparison to WhatsApp a wide range of business opportunities.

But seriously, do we meet the german teens on Facebook Messenger? I don’t think so (yet).

The youth is deep diving into messaging apps like Instagram, Snapchat or musical.ly but at this time not into Facebook and it’s messenger.

Remember: Privacy on the internet is mostly not comparable to what we know from the privacy we enjoy offline. It’s different and more public then we think!

Chatbots are not human, they are unethical!

In Germany we are good and brave people. We identify every chatbot as somebody who can’t act human-like. Even more we discovered a ethical gap in this context.

Some months ago I was asked in a expert interview for a master thesis if I would have any ethical difficulties with chatbots. I was wondering. I answered with a big “NO”.

Why should I have ethical problems with a technological offer that considers my needs (e.g. mobile shopping)?

Of course it’s right to ask the question especially when you think about the fact that a lot of companies in various branches get always the same requests by clients.

Until now you need a team of service agents and/or community agents for that but in future? What’s about a chatbot? It can answer many questions if it gets a lot of the right data.

Sometimes I think about our broader future. The more of automation could mean less jobs, less responsibilities, less real and personal 1 to 1 communication … sounds not so good.

Lead the “Wandel” instead of being converted!

But of course we have to ask what’s going on! Nobody wants that people become unemployed. Automation could mean less jobs in one area but more in another.

AI will not cause mass unemployment, but it will speed up the existing trend of computer-related automation, disrupting labour markets just as technological change has done before, and requiring workers to learn new skills more quickly than in the past. Source: The Econmist, Artificial intelligence: The impact on jobs.

It’s not that easy but there will be, no, there must be a way to handle it. We have to be prepared!

We have to lead the “Wandel”. We have to invent ourselves. The term of transformation is so often used that we should condemn it more and more.

Let’s use the term flux instead of transformation to describe the process of “Wandel”. We have the chance to shape the future with a openminded attitude not with indecision. I mean we have to go forward and sometimes without permission.

We have to do it. As somebody who works for a digital agency it’s my natural habit to look into the technological opportunities and it’s impact for the future of our clients marketing.

Who let the bots out? Chatbots are the beginning. The engine for the state of flux is automation. The next steps are smart voice assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Home. And think about your fridge or your whole kitchen :)

“Don’t wait for the world to change. Change your mind about the world.” By Alan Cohen