Everyone is talking about Bots! And everyone wants to build a bot because companies want to go where their customers are. The Internet has evolved from webpages on PCs to apps on mobile and now to bots in messaging platforms.
Like many other industry leaders and developers I’m excited about this new direction, however as is often the case much of this trend is driven by technology, with not enough attention paid to the user. If we treat bots the same way we treated apps, the end result will be what we see today with apps: bot fatigue.
I propose an alternative approach where we focus on bringing two separate interface trends together: Bots & Virtual Assistants, to develop a new kind of interface I’ll call a “Metabot”. A Metabot would be a conversational interface not unlike today’s Virtual assistants, but provide a rich platform to allow developers to extend its capabilities. A metabot would be everywhere the user needs it (messenger apps, your TV, your phone, or in the office), and would develop a long-term relationship with the user as it developed memory and contextual information about the user over time.
In other words, I’d like to have a small handful of virtual assistants which are extensible through a Bot like interface to make them incredibly powerful. These Virtual Assistants would interface with me wherever I am, and like a friend, have an interesting personality and develop a long-term relationship with me.
By thinking through the ideal user experience, and working backward to the technology, I feel we may be able to leapfrog our industry over the obvious bot hype-cycle and into a potentially better future for users. There is significant incentive to pursue this idea as such a platform would be a powerful control point for the companies who get it right and who get there first.
In the next few posts I’ll describe the emerging problems with Bots and Bot Platforms; The evolution of Virtual Assistants, and the eventual convergence of these two trends.