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Could Chatbots be on their Way Out?

January, 2022

Every business has ideas, problems to solve, or strategies to address. To create a solution for these, one needs technology. Technology by itself is not a strategy, but rather an enabler. This will help you get what you are looking for. Any digital solution also needs skills, empowerment, and the appetite to embrace change. In most cases, technology by itself is at the core of all such transformation journeys. Process changes or adoptions are not the only challenges for such transformations; the technology life cycle also plays a big role in them . Typically, any technology undergoes a life cycle called the Kondratiev Wave.

The technology life cycle starts with R&D, where business gain is not realized. Later, towards the maturity of the life cycle, it produces maximum business gains. Once it has lived its ‘vital life’, it will begin its decline stage. This means that no more business gains can be realised from it. At this point, either it continues to be part of the journey as a legacy or it starts transforming into a new life cycle.

The technology life cycle is the only moving part in defining any technology as ‘dead’ or ‘alive’. Adoption plays an equal role . Any adoption can be best understood by using Roger’s Bell Curve.

Typically, ‘majority’ in the adoption cycle matches with ‘maturity’ in the technology lifecycle. Adoption of technology within businesses also drives how that technology will move further. Here I am not going to talk about the adoption of technology by business users. That’s a topic for some other day.

What Do We Know Now?

The year 2016 marked a major boom for chatbots. Every CXO’s conversation included the term “chatbot”. Everyone was excited about it because their ‘customers’ could talk to ‘someone’ at any time. Every other piece of research in that area has started speculating that chatbots will replace apps. It is now 2021, and many of those writers and adopters are disappointed by the actual outcome. It failed to show value on multiple fronts. It didn’t solve the problem fully, rather it created new ones, which were even more difficult to handle. So, let's see where it went wrong. The major reasons behind the failures were

Is It Really Dead?

It is true that in 2016, chatbot were in the zone of inflated expectations. This certainly caused many unplanned chatbot adoptions and eventually brought down the growth rate of chatbots. This is typical in any technology/solution evolution. Many have started claiming that by 2020, chatbots will be dead and we may need a new way to engage with customers. But is it really dead? Let’s look at some of the predictions.

By 2022,

By 2023,

By 2024,

By 2025,

By 2026,

The above details clearly show that chatbots are here to stay.

Next Generation Chatbots

However, it is also clear that earlier rule-based and unplanned chatbots are not going to work. This means we need a new generation of chatbots. This chatbot must be intelligent, well designed, goal-oriented, and technologically supported. We will leave design and goal alignment out of the discussion as this is a very important aspect of the success of any software, not just for chatbots. Let's talk about intelligence and technology that is going to help with next generation chatbots. Advancements in AI and NLP are triggering the further evolution of chatbots. NLP/NLU, transformers, channel integrations, voice enablement, slang support, multiple language support, predictive behavioural aspects, etc. make a long list of expectations from this next gen. In fact, we are not just looking for a bot but rather a conversational assistant who can help.

“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 inaction.”
-- Bill Gates

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