The state of bots by the end of 2016

Post in What's the Forecast?

Bots, also known as chatbots, personal assistants, etc. experienced their first major year in 2016 when popular messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger published their first initiatives within the bots environment to the public.

Example of a bot in Facebook Messenger from KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Example of a bot in Facebook Messenger from KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Social media companies like Facebook are gradually moving away from the traditional news feed, towards a more personal messaging focused strategy — for good reasons. Messaging platforms, like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, outpaced the “traditional” social networking apps, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. in 2015, and since then the growth has only accelerated even more. According to Business Insider, the total active number of users on the top 4 messaging platforms surpassed 3 billion globally in early 2016, while the top 4 social networking apps reached “just” 2.5 billion users in the same period.

Even though chatbots experienced their first publicly recognized year with more than 36,000 bots published on the Facebook Messenger platform — it still didn’t reach a significant user base. The bots were mainly adopted by early-adopters who tried various types of bots for the excitement rather than for the actual usability. 2017 on the other hand is expected to be the first year where the average consumer will begin to benefit and engage with these bots in various different ways, and thus assist them in their everyday tasks.

In the coming months and years, we will gradually see the intelligence, experience and usability of these bots improve, and over time become an obvious part of our lives, similarly to websites and apps have done it in the past. Bots can provide something that both websites and apps have somewhat failed at, namely creating a personalized and unique experience for every user out there. Interaction with bots happens in the most natural way to human, through the spoken and written words. It’s able to remember what you have requested in the past, your preferences, name, interests, location, and so forth in a very time efficient way. Thus being aware of your immediate situation and environment.

Time and quality are probably the two most important factors when it comes to attracting a significant user base. People tend to use the platforms and services which bring the answer to their needs in the quickest and easiest way. Bots are generally expected to outpace both websites and apps in terms of this in the years ahead, while also bringing in the personalized experience — in other words, both the time and quality.

In the coming weeks and months — we will follow up on this post, and update you on what’s currently happening within this subject. Next post will recommend a handful (or two) of the best bots that you should definitely try out right now, and provide you with some user scenarios that you might actually enjoy and benefit from in the future.