After generating a lot of hype in 2016 but largely failing to woo developers or captivate consumers, chatbots are expected to undergo some changes in 2017 to foster their adoption and utility. Chatbots are software programs that use messaging as the interface through which to carry out various simple tasks.

Chat apps like Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and Kik all have chatbot technology on their platforms that enable developers and brands to create bot-driven conversational experiences for consumers. Some chatbots help users browse and purchase products, some provide basic information like the weather, and some act as promotional characters or brand representatives to interact with users. 

As chat apps become increasingly popular, the potential impact of chatbots will grow in kind. The four top chat apps surpassed the top four social networks in terms of global monthly active users in 2015, and have been expanding their lead ever since. As more consumers conduct more of their activities via chat apps, chatbots will have a significant opportunity to facilitate consumers' usage of chat apps. 

bii messaging apps vs social media appsBI Intelligence

While chatbots have the potential to become an indispensable part of the mobile messaging experience, the technology behind chatbots will need to advance, and new and compelling use cases will need to come to light, for this nascent technology to mature.

Here’s how BI Intelligence expects chat apps and chatbots to evolve in 2017:

A Greater Emphasis On Utility, Not Personality

A common misconception about chatbots is that they should and will be able to hold an intelligent conversation with users, akin to the Scarlett Johansson-voiced voice assistant in Spike Jonze’s 2013 sci-fi film Her. However, this advanced level of “friendly” and “personality-infused artificial intelligence,” wherein bots are intelligent and personable enough to form bonds and relationships with humans, isn't the aim of chatbots. Not only is this level of AI years away from becoming reality, but it’s also not what users want when interacting with chatbots.

  • Friendliness is the least important characteristic of chatbots, according to a May 2016 survey of UK consumers by Myclever. Just 9% [...]