October 9, 2017
The Robot Invasion
Robots are already revolutionizing our workforce. That’s not news to anyone. When we think about automation using robotics, we typically think of physical robots doing manufacturing oriented work. We see automated picking bots operating in state-of-the-art Amazon warehouses. However, bots are also reshaping the way humans and computers interact.
While browsing a company’s website, you may encounter a “chatbot” to ask if you need help with anything. These chatbots use AI to help users navigate the website or sign up for a service. They supplement or replace people as customer service agents.
Chatbots may never fully replace customer service reps, but they do well with basic administrative tasks such as taking down information, updating statuses, and scheduling appointments.
Recent advancements in artificial intelligence fuel the bot investment boom. Machine learning allows computers to carry more natural, sophisticated conversations with users.
A recent ReadWrite article highlights how the booming bot market will reshape the economy. Companies specializing in bot technologies attract major investment velocity. ReadWrite estimates bot focused companies have raked in over $24 billion in funding. Facebook dominates in bot investment. ReadWrite reports that Facebook possesses $18.3 billion in funding for this sector. Other companies trailing Facebook include Kik Interactive, Skype, and Twilio.
The majority of bot investments fall under developer tools and service providers that can build and maintain bots. Other top areas of investment include customer service, communication and analytics.
Canadian based company, Kik Interactive, provides a chat service for smartphones. Kik’s messenger service offers a diverse platform of bot tools that can help businesses with marketing and interacting with customers.
Kik serves as just one example of successful emerging bot companies. ReadWrite estimates that over 400 bot companies currently compete in the space. Over time, those that produce bots that are both useful and cost effective will prevail. Building a good bot is incredibly difficult. However, competition will fuel them to keep getting better.
Bots can help supplement tasks and save businesses on operating expenses. However, the current technology still doesn’t demonstrate the ability to carry out free flowing conversations. As artificial intelligence improves, only time will tell how pervasive and impactful these bots will become.