The chatbot market is predicted to reach $1.25 billion by 2025. In addition to total market size, Grand View Research also predicts a CAGR of 24.3 percent. Fast growth, but do developers really need to pay attention to chatbots in a fairly small market of just over a billion dollars?
1. Artificial Intelligence and the Next Google?
When people search for information, they’re starting to turn to real-time questions and are looking for real-time answers. While the term “chatbot” may sound like a mindless IRC toy to some people, it’s actually a natural language processing (NLP) search engine that allows people to find the information they need.
Artificial Intelligence building blocks are now available from many companies and can be accessed through simple APIs. You can add serious functionality to your app by using cloud-based APIs. As the volume of data people need to sift through increases, many of your apps that present data to people will need a way for people to query the data with natural language. If you’re not experienced with AI technology, you’re missing an important component that users are starting to expect more and more.
2. Websites and Chatbot Integration
Many websites have now integrated chatbots, usually accessible from the lower right-hand corner as a “May I help you?” type function. Companies are using chatbots to engage with customers because people find the natural language of a chatbot easier and faster than the standard search box with magnifying glass icon. Businesses have moved to chatbots and if you’re not already familiar with best practices for chatbot integration, your client or manager may soon ask you for a recommendation. Will you be ready?
3. Chat Messages are the Preferred Communication Method for Many People
If the cool technology and business demand for chatbots are not enough to sway you to learn about chatbots, think about how people communicate on a daily basis. Slack, Twitter, Facebook Messenger, and Skype messages are used throughout the day. This daily workflow of managing chat information is quickly building the expectation that you can get a wide range of information through short, natural language ways of asking questions and receiving information.
4. Chatbots are Popular in Lucrative Industries
Grand View Research indicated that chatbots are used in e-commerce, healthcare, and banking and financial services. In 2016, large enterprise was the biggest end-user segment with a CAGR of 24.2 percent. With cool technology, widespread use, and money floating around, chatbots are definitely worth looking into.
Chatbots are Easy to Get Started With
Most information on chatbots would end here. Chatbots are an important trend, the market is growing, key players are getting involved...
But, how do I get started?
I took a look at the IBM Bot Asset Exchange to see if I could get started developing a bot myself. This is a site where developers can freely share chatbot apps and technology with each other. It’s free to get started.
I clicked on the Restaurant Concierge bot as it was getting close to lunch and I was hungry.
After logging into the IBM Cloud, I saw the Chatbot Asset Deployment ready to go.
I pressed Create to set it up.
After deploying the chatbot, I checked out the log files to make sure everything looked good.
Then in my workspace, I went to the restaurant Concierge.
Clicking on the Get started button, I saw an easy way to configure the chatbot.
For testing purposes, I made only minimal changes.
I reviewed the deployment options and decided to implement a chatbot on our corporate Slack service as I use Slack much more than Facebook Messenger throughout the day.
For simplicity, I tested Slack with the IBM app.
I needed to invite @ibmwatson_bot to the Slack channel.
Wow, that was easy. I now have a bot on Slack.
Testing Chat With Real Friends
I invited my colleague, Craig Oda, to try out the chat in our Slack system. He was pretty impressed with the chatbot.
I created my first chatbot in under 30 minutes, deployed it to Slack, and tested it with my colleague. With a small investment in time, I gained a huge return in knowledge. If you’re new to chatbot deployments, you can easily try this, too, to see what chatbots are about. Learning by building an actual chatbot and deploying it to Slack or Facebook Messenger is a great way to understand chatbots and quickly assess the benefits of chatbots in your next application. Chatbots rely on AI technology and make it easy for people to access your data. Thanks to cloud-based APIs and catalogs of bots like the IBM Bot Asset Exchange, it’s easy to get started.