Why No One Is Using Chatbots—Yet
Sheena Lin | Jun 29, 2017
Title: Editor

While so many marketers are having “counter” opinions about chatbot, this article talks about the promising future of chatbot – It's coming, just not yet.

There’s this story about the old man who invented chess. I’m sure I have it all wrong. But it’s still a good story:

The old man brings his chessboard to the king and explains the new game. The king is so impressed that he asks the old man what he wants as a gift. The old man says he’s a simple man from the country, and he would just like some rice.

“How much rice would you like?” the king asks.

The old man appears to contemplate this. Then he responds, “How about we use my game to determine the amount?” He puts a single grain of rice on the first square of the chessboard. Then he puts two grains on the second square. And four grains on the third square. “We double the number of grains on each square until we reach the end of the board.”

The king laughs, shakes his head in disbelief, and agrees with a stamp of his signet ring. He has his servants start placing the grain on the chessboard. But soon he stops laughing.

By the time they reach the 16th square, they’re up to a large bag of rice. By the time they reach the 32nd square, it’s as much rice as a 20-acre field produces in a year.

By the 64th square, it’s far more rice than has been produced, ever, in the history of mankind.

The old man becomes king.

I’ve been reading headlines like “The Chatbot Revolution Is on Hold” and “5 reasons not to believe the chatbot hype”. USAToday asks, “Remember chatbots?” while Econsultancy wonders, “What went wrong?

Well let me tell you what went wrong: nothing.

Here’s the thing: even when growth is explosive, nothing really seems to happen in the first few years. Bill Gates wrote in The Road Ahead, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into in-action.”

How many more chatbots are there today compared with a year ago? If we use stats from Facebook Messenger, we see there were 11,000 in June 2016; 34,000 in November 2016; and 100,000 in April 2017. That's roughly a 1000% growth rate. But let's be conservative and say that the growth rate is 200%, and today there are 100,000 chatbots. Where will this lead us?

At this rate, due to the miracle of compounding, there will be over 20 million chatbots in 5 years. Is that a reasonable projection? Let’s compare that with the growth in the number of websites from the early days of the internet, 1996–2001.

Projected chatbot growth based on 200% growth rate. Historical website statistics from Internet Live Stats.

The growth in websites eventually sloped off, but it continued steadily. Today there are over 1.2 billion websites.

My point, of course, is that we are at the very beginning of years of explosive growth. We are on the first few squares of the chessboard. It may only look like a few grains of rice, but we have so much ahead of us.

Chatbots, and by extension, voicebots, are setting applications free, and the implications are astounding. Applications are no longer bound by a traditional user interface—you can chat to them, you can speak to them. Applications are no longer bound by a particular channel—you can access them via messaging app, via web browser, via voice-controlled speaker.

In my space, chatbots for corporate communications, we will soon see employees seamlessly moving from their phones to their cars to their laptops, from chatting to speaking to clicking, to do their research, receive their news, and provide their input.

So if you’re an innovator that’s thrilled about the potential of chatbots, but feel like no one’s listening, don’t get disheartened. This is normal for transformational technology. In a few years, no one will be laughing, and who knows? You may become the chatbot king.

Chris McGrath |Jun 12, 2017
FROM: LinkedIn
Tags: chatbot revolution, voicebots, growth
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