Businesses are beginning to see the benefits of using chatbots for their consumer-facing products
The survey included responses from 800 decision makers including chief marketing officers, chief strategy officers, senior marketers, and senior sales executives from France, the Netherlands, South Africa, and the UK.
When asked which emerging technologies they are already using and which they intended to implement, 80% of respondents said they already used or planned to use chatbots by 2020. Chatbots are interactive software platforms that reside in apps, live chat, email, and SMS and can behave in a human-like manner.
Additionally, the survey shows that business leaders and decision makers are turning to the broader umbrella of automation technologies, which includes chatbots, for things like sales, marketing, and customer service. Forty-two percent of participants believe automation technologies in these areas will most improve the customer experience. And 48% said that they already use automation technology for these business functions, with 40% planning to implement some form of automated technology by 2020.
This makes sense given the impact automation technology could have on cutting labor costs. Although complete automation of the customer service workforce is not feasible, automating customer management and sales positions in the US would result in considerable savings. Twenty-nine percent of customer service positions in the US could be automated through chatbots and other tech, according to Public Tableau. We estimate this translates to $23 billion in savings from annual salaries, which does not even factor in additional workforce costs like health insurance.
Advancements in artificial intelligence, coupled with the proliferation of messaging apps, are fueling the development of chatbots — software programs that use messaging as the interface through which to carry out any number of tasks, from scheduling a meeting, to reporting weather, to helping users buy a pair of shoes.
Foreseeing immense potential, businesses are starting to invest heavily in the burgeoning bot economy. A number of brands and publishers have already deployed bots on messaging and collaboration channels, including HP, 1-800-Flowers, and CNN. While the bot revolution is still in the early phase, many believe 2016 will be the year these conversational interactions take off.
Laurie Beaver, research associate for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on chatbots that explores the growing and disruptive bot landscape by investigating what bots are, how businesses are leveraging them, and where they will have the biggest impact.
The report outlines the burgeoning bot ecosystem by segment, looks at companies that offer bot-enabling technology, distribution channels, and some of the key third-party bots already on offer. The report also forecasts the potential annual savings that businesses could realize if chatbots replace some of their customer service and sales reps. Finally, it compares the potential of chatbot monetization on a platform like Facebook Messenger against the iOS App Store and Google Play store.
Here are some of the key takeaways:
- AI has reached a stage in which chatbots can have increasingly engaging and human conversations, allowing businesses to leverage the inexpensive and wide-reaching technology to engage with more consumers.
- Chatbots are particularly well suited for mobile — perhaps more so than apps. Messaging is at the heart of the mobile experience, as the rapid adoption of chat apps demonstrates.
- The chatbot ecosystem is already robust, encompassing many different third-party chat bots, native bots, distribution channels, and enabling technology companies.
- Chatbots could be lucrative for messaging apps and the developers who build bots for these platforms, similar to how app stores have developed into moneymaking ecosystems.
In full, the report:
- Breaks down the pros and cons of chatbots.
- Explains the different ways businesses can access, utilize, and distribute content via chatbots.
- Forecasts the potential impact chatbots could have for businesses.
- Looks at the potential barriers that could limit the growth, adoption, and use of chatbots.
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