“Technology” is a word that to many signifies a better future.
First we got the internet, then web applications, then apps, and now bots. Apps are old news now, and bots and AI seem to be the next big thing. The dream of the independent developer building a business in the app store is over. Bots are taking over, and why wouldn’t they? Simplicity? Check. Cost efficiency? Check. Time efficiency? Double check. They are the latest technology, and only a fool will ignore the control they might have on the future. Soon we might even witness a robot like “Jarvis” (from the Iron Man movies) or even something better, so it’s time we look past bots’ current drawbacks and concentrate on their strengths.
Bots, bots everywhere!
The rise of messaging bots isn’t something new. Slack, Facebook Messenger, and Telegram have long since joined the game, because they know this investment’s going to pay off. Why would someone use an app to book a flight now? You have to open the app, log in, input the travel details, then choose a flight, pay for it, and log out. Or you could just tell the bot your travel details, and it will take care of the rest. Add to that the bonus that chat is already a familiar interface.
Having built Engazify bot, and watching its growth, especially in the enterprise, I can definitely say that bots have many advantages. They boast a small size, easy data sharing, easy installation, simpler authentication, and a known interface. You don’t even need to leave your communication platform of choice. Also, with a bot, communication is two-way. The bot initiates actions when you need it to, as well as responding to requests. It is like chatting with another human. And almost any transaction can be mapped to the messaging framework, so the future of bots will be rock solid.
Is this the end for apps?
It is not the end of the world for apps. Some apps — such as camera apps or games — are too complex to be replaced by bots. But the app economy is saturated now. It won’t grow any further. Plus, the number of apps is still growing, which means it is getting harder and harder to discover the useful apps among all the noise. Bots can help here, as well, by serving as a medium for finding the best apps.
Bots or apps?
In many ways, bots and apps are not really comparable. But bots have the ability to simplify the overcrowded app marketplace by wiping some of them away. Bots are easy to install, easy to build (compared to apps, which are much more expensive to build), and offer more use-cases (no one’s going to build an app for as trivial a task as deleting the recycle bin on your computer). Add to that the fact that messaging has higher market penetration, and the language and conversation is already familiar.
Why bots now?
Bots aren’t new. What’s new is the progress in technology that’s coming along with them — the boom in messaging apps or the improvements in AI and NLP. Now, you just need to download a bot and start using it — no questions asked. The mental cognitive load of learning is gone.
No, bots won’t replace apps
It’s not the number of taps on the screen that matters. It’s the simplicity and the intelligence that will win over users. It’s not likely that bots will take over, and the app stores will shut down. Apps have their own advantages. But bots will take away most of the redundant processes we see in apps and make things interesting by enabling two-way conversation. And since there is a huge potential in this area, bots will definitely dominate the technology sector in the coming years.
Now: Over to you! What do you think? Bots will wi or apps will continue to show dominance? Or call it a truce? Let us know.