Bot Hype: What to expect in 2016

With the burst of AI (artificial intelligence) technologies and growing messaging ecosystem there is a trending belief that the future of apps lies in conversation. Despite the current trending #ConvComm hashtag and @chrismessin article, I believe we are seeing an emergence of something more important than just a conversational user interface.

We are very far from a truly intelligent conversation interfaces for many reasons. If you look at the most conversation based messenger apps like Magic, Facebook M and others - they are all human assisted and they will stay like that for a while until we figure out a way to transition AI from delayed model training to real time learning, which will lead us to cracking the code of how people learn. The basis for this is described by “Moravec’s paradox”.

The main lesson of thirty-five years of AI research is that the hard problems are easy and the easy problems are hard.
The mental abilities of a four-year-old that we take for granted — recognizing a face, lifting a pencil, walking across a room, answering a question — in fact solve some of the hardest engineering problems ever conceived… As the new generation of intelligent devices appears, it will be the stock analysts and petrochemical engineers and parole board members who are in danger of being replaced by machines. The gardeners, receptionists, and cooks are secure in their jobs for decades to come.
© Language Instinct

Not all applications should be conversation based, can Dropbox by itself be transformed into conversation bot? I don’t believe so, but Dropbox may have a bot, the one that you can program to interact with your files, photos and/or shared folder members.

Interfaces

There will be a major paradigm shift in how people interact with services and bots will be tied in with the each stage of this interaction, starting from the initial contact to the selling and shipping process. Bots will be the interface itself, highly configurable and proactive; think of existing API’s with a reasoning components built-in.

is very hard to predict the taxonomy of bots right now but if we dive deep into the history of how APIs and SDKs evolved we can somewhat see patterns for future types of bots and what they will do.

Finders

Bots that digest huge amounts of data and are able to extract relevant information in a matter of seconds. We’ve already seen that and the only company that is truly capable of delivering on promise is Google. Though there will be many more local finders that will operate in the personal space such as Findo.

Movers

The ones that deliver your email to slack channels already or the ones that will probably handle your next Amazon delivery. Basically, most of Slack integrations/apps that transfer data from one source to another fall into this category.

Slack Apps platform

Notifiers

Intelligent scrapers that will let us know when the new “House of Cards” episode is out. There are a lot of companies in this space right now, ranging from SaaS for competitor intelligence to consumer apps such as Facebook Notify.

Populators

The most complicated part of conversational apps is an automated sequential data input that may or may not require natural language processing. Most probably will make a strong use within the SaaS space.

image credit goes to Motion.ai

Enhancers

Something that gets very little attention nowadays but I believe is a huge game changer of the way in how people will work in the next 5–10 years.

All of our mundane tasks and routines can be improved by a data enrichment. Think of a designer having a task to design a landing page for a car dealership. It will be a time saver to pull up top car dealership sites in the context and top tips for designing a landing page, along with some of the top rated landing page designs from Dribbble.

Think I’ve missed out on some type? Tweet or reply to this post.


War of Platforms

As to be expected, there will be a war between the main gatekeepers. Talking about consumer conversation space, that’s obviously covered by Messenger, WhatsApp, Telegram and all existing services, will be plugged in. The question is where will all other bots plug in? You know, the ones that don’t require messaging and natural language conversations. There will be some companies that will go deeper into “app-less” paradigm and integrate intelligent bots.

Business/Work space doesn’t really have many gatekeepers since Slack proved it’s integration dominance but players such as HipChat and Yammer may improve.


Development

Bots will definitely transform development as we see it, but that won’t stop companies building out mobile apps as some articles say. We will still build mobile apps but now with the use of the bots. There will be a lot of work towards bot architecture and cross integration of bot services. You can see the trend already coming in on job sites.

What we will see in the end is a huge integration mess that will involve new approaches to programming such interconnected systems. Internet of Bots, right?

Think of the current processes at any business, reseller that needs to tap into database/CRM etc.


Reverting App Unbundling

“There has to be an bot for that” is definitely something we will see and this will happen fast due to the same reasons app unbundling happened. There is no simple solution how to overcome the general vs specialized problem but I believe the personalization nature of bots will take care of this if developers will figure out a way to quickly analyze user profile by extracting data from the gatekeeper’s hub and optimize functionality to suit the needs. And this will probably slowly transition into analogue of app permissions since security and privacy issues will propagate down the pipe.

Problems

It may or may not happen but we will definitely start seeing the signs of network saturation once at least 10% of our app based actions will be based on bot interaction. There will be a need for a general-purpose interface that will interconnect all bots along with the so-called, “BotStore”.

Also, there is a huge perception shift that will require a lot of education and patience from an average consumer, I didn’t want to write about this one until I got this in our team’s Intercom messenger..

This may cause more harm to business than you can even imagine, that’s why the bot design process and development will be (and should be) quite expensive and time consuming endeavor, otherwise we will see the hype going away very quickly.

Who’s gonna win from this?

I will be optimistic enough to say that everyone wins from this shift. But the most gain will receive ecosystem holders, whether those are big corporations or smaller startups — only time will show.

Let me know what you think by tweeting at me and don’t forget to follow.



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