New enterprise technologies continue to materialize at an accelerated pace. From augmented reality and machine learning platforms to blockchain-based distributed ledgers, the potential implementation possibilities seem to be multiplying with no end in sight. However, some small-scale yet transformative innovations get lost in the constant unfolding of disruptive enterprise information technology.
Chatbots are among these overlooked assets. These novel programs allow businesses of all sizes to expand and enrich their online customer service processes without increasing their recruitment or training needs. These advantages have prompted immense enterprise investment, according to Grand View Research. The chatbot market is expanding at a compound annual growth rate of more than 24 percent and is on track to surpass the $1.25 billion mark by 2025. Organizations interested in the technology would be wise to reference early deployments and assess their IT infrastructure to determine whether they are prepared to implement and maintain the necessary software.
An innovation emerges
The first chatbots appeared in early 2016, at the behest of Facebook, VentureBeat reported. The social media giant had recently perfected its now-ubiquitous Messenger application and theorized that consumers could leverage the software to communicate with businesses just as they would family or friends. Soon after, Facebook debuted chatbot development services that allowed enterprises to create artificial intelligence-infused applications that can interface with customers. In March of that year, Sephora became one of the first major retailers to debut a fully formed chatbot, Retail Dive reported. The software, available through the lesser-known messaging application Kik, allowed users to request beauty tips, view products and make purchases. Numerous businesses followed Sephora's lead, and by August 2017, early adopters were seeing considerable results, according to Venture Beat. Sephora saw an 11 percent increase in in-store consultation booking rates, while SnapTravel, another early chatbot user, scheduled $1 million in hotel bookings in fewer than 12 months.
"Chatbots are expected to save businesses worldwide $8 billion in operating costs by 2022."
Chatbots have only become more advanced in the years since these initial deployments. In fact, some businesses have turned the original model on its head, transforming AI-equipped communication tools from cutting-edge operational tools into marketable products and services.
For instance, researchers from Stanford University developed Woebot, a program that leverages machine learning to help individuals dealing with anxiety, depression and other conditions, MIT Technology Review reported. While not a replacement for human therapists, the application can help people assess their psychological states and participate in exercises that may lessen some symptoms. Replika, which debuted in November 2017, does something similar, leveraging AI technology to carry on conversations with users in need of connection, according to Wired. The application does not execute specific services – it only uses its processing power to converse.
At the moment there are three categories of chatbots, analysts for Deloitte determined. Informational and transactional chatbots offer the most basic services, enabling users to access information or purchasing or scheduling features on demand. Woebot and Replika fall into the final category of advisory chatbots, which harness advanced AI capabilities to interact with humans at fairly high levels. All chatbots are moving in the advisory direction as companies attempt to roll out supremely responsive customer service options.
Understanding the benefits
With each new chatbot advancement, the pool of enterprise adopters grows – and for good reason. These unique applications are proven consumer engagement and sales assets – centered on scalable platforms with pre-existing user bases – and feature the latest technology. On top of this, chatbots streamline back-end operations, laying the groundwork for considerable savings. In fact, chatbots are expected to save businesses worldwide $8 billion in operating costs by 2022, Deloitte found. However, developing these popular tools in-house is no easy task.
Businesses intending to embark on chatbot creation must have the developmental talent and IT resources needed to craft useful chatbots with magnetic personalities. Of course, this work is even more difficult for organizations with antiquated back-end systems. For firms in this unfortunate position, an IT infrastructure refresh might be a prerequisite for chatbot development and deployment.
The Inventu Corporation is here to help organizations of all sizes embark on IT modernization in preparation for the adoption of chatbots and other cutting-edge enterprise technology. Our cutting-edge Flynet Viewer makes screen integration and IT modernization easy, meeting employer and staff expectations in a way that feels both familiar and simple. Connect with us today to learn more about the Inventu Flynet Viewer and the other solutions in our product portfolio.