What are your bot predictions for 2017?

This is hard to predict, but I would still love to know everyone’s opinions.

Here’s what happened in 2016:

  • Almost every messaging platform announced support for bots.
  • Almost every major tech company announced their own machine learning and NLP products.
  • 30,000+ people starting building bots.
  • 100,000+ bots built across different platforms.
  • Lots of hype, not a lot of useful bots.

I think 2016 was the year where everyone started building bots and began to experiment with the types of experiences that make the most sense as a bot.

I believe that in 2017 we will start to see someone really interesting and useful bots. Botmakers will be able to start making these killer bots because of all the experimentation done in 2016.

What do you think?

Great question - probably the one most of us bot “professionals” ask themselves. I have some thoughts on how the botification of B2B processes could proceed in 2017.

From our experiments with mostly “old-economy” B2B companies in 2016 we have learned this:

  • Decision makers in B2B enterprises (I can only speak for Europe) immediately accept bots as a valuable tool - for their own personal usage and, say, fun
  • When it comes to using bots in business in general and in their particular business, they hesitate and don’t think their customers will ever use it
  • So do B2B customers being confronted with bots - they tend to see them as toys

So we have to bridge the gap between “a bot is cool to play around with at home, but of no use for my business life”. More or less the same issue as with smartphones and apps when they appeared.

In the B2B sector, I guess we will see bridging this gap happen in at least two areas which can perfectly be addressed by bots (on corporate websites as well as in messengers):

  • Customer service - including access to real time data (orders, delivery etc.)
  • Product information - currently being accessible through paper catalogues, PDFs or endless website search forms

These areas are low hanging fruits from a technological point of view and could offer great benefits to both B2B corporations and their customers. The necessary investment is controllable - and not even a lot of AI is needed.

Hope this makes sense…

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2016 was for sure the year of experimentation and figuring out what this whole bot thing is all about. I see 2017 being the year of execution and monetization.

There has also been this obsession that every bot needs to be extremely smart I hope in 2017 we get passed that and instead of figuring out how to make bots smarter (which usually makes them seem really dumb) we find more clever ways to respond to particular edge cases. Possibly with a mix of AI and rule based.

I also hope to see people exploring outside B2B and understanding there is a place for B2C, we are seeing more games being created every day and really creative marketing bots appearing as well. This is an area I really hope flourishes and I want to make a goal to help it grow as it has insane potential but is being ignored in favor of B2B stuff.

2017 is going to be really interesting and exciting for bots and I can’t wait!

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I believe the Gartner Hype Cycle is a good point of reference for where we are currently at with bots and the path ahead. During 2016 bots became way overhyped but hopefully we have already passed the peak of inflated expectations, unfortunately we then head downward to the trough of disillusionment. The good news is once we hit bottom then we will begin to see the real value in bots as we move up the slope of enlightenment and onto the plateau of productivity.

In 2016 we established the value proposition for bots - I believe it is an AND scenario rather than OR ie bots will supplement other channels rather than be standalone. My tip for 2017 is less hype, a better understanding of bot “intelligence” where we will see use cases emerge that create value. I don’t expect any reduction in levels of innovation so rationalisation of platforms and tools may need to wait for 2018.

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Totally agree with everything you said, especially with passing the point of overhype. 2017 really will be the year of implementation. I truly feel entertainment is a seriously untapped market that is not getting nearly as much attention as it should. There are a few bots focused in the marketing and entertainment area that I have spent close to a straight hour playing with.

Tools are great but messaging apps give us the opportunity to speak directly to the user and have their full attention, the possibilities are endless on how we can hold their attention. I have high hopes 2017 is for sure be about understanding how to better simulate intelligence and understanding the best times to utilize it.

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I randomly made a pitch to a panel of VCs in November along with other Bot companies here in Santa Clara, CA. My pitch was all about generating revenue with Bots by creating Utility Bots unlike the Conversational AI based super Bots. This seemed to resonate extremely well with the VCs, who are still looking for companies with value proposition for generating revenue, which they have seen very few. In short, VC investment is getting more focused now into technology that will solve real problems for which somebody will pay. So my sense is that 2017 should be a year of Bots that will start solving real problems that will generate real revenues not necessarily from the consumers but definitely from enterprises and small businesses.

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I agree with you some what @Vinay_Chandra, for companies seeking funding based off what you just said seems they are interested in bots solving real problems when it comes to investing but that doesn’t mean that consumer bots won’t do well. social, entertainment, and marketing I feel could be HUGE but may seem less appealing to investors until they start showing traction since it’s a crap shoot when it comes to consumer stuff.

That is usually how it seems to work with consumer stuff, first it has to prove that it can make a profit then investors will then pay attention while with enterprise and related it’s a bit easier for investors to grasp and understand how it will make them money so they’d be more willing to invest.

I believe 2017 we will also discover new ways to make money with bots.

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