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Bot is next coming up on your screen?

Anand Mokashi – 

Just as we were coming to terms with the takeover of traditional marketing by social media, we find ourselves in the midst of ‘Bot Invasion.’

The way in which bots (origin-robots) are proliferating the worldwide web is indicative of their potential to become the next big thing.

I got interested in bots a couple of months ago and started studying and understanding them. Many companies are now starting off with bots and this will only grow further.

What is a bot?

Bot is next- Diagram Web - CopyA Bot is a small programme that can interact with anyone as if it were a trained human being.  To start using a bot, you would just open a conversation as if you are chatting with a friend.

The difference is that instead of a person on the other side there would be a programme with a certain level of artificial intelligence to handle pre-set tasks.

Think of bots as apps (small programs) with a chat interface (conversational user interface).

The concept is of course not new. The reason for its sudden revival is that, now smartphones have become the centre of daily life for communication, entertainment, information sourcing, planning and even conducting business.

Due to this paradigm shift, Mobile Apps development has grown significantly.

We now have apps for banking, weather,  payments and so on.

These apps crowd the mobile desk top, making them cumbersome to use.

This is where bots come in. They make interactions with apps easier and more conversational.

Webgiants like Techcrunch have already coined a term for this explosion. They call this the dawn of ‘Conversational Economy.’

Apps like Facebook messenger and Wechat now allow third party bots to be developed and used along with the app.

For example, Wechat, highly popular in China, supports bots that facilitate instore payments, hailing a taxi, transfer money, split a bill and do many more things.

Chinese call the app ‘Wechat Universe.’

What can a bot do?

In short anything. You can talk to a bot and it will give a smart answer.

Bots can show you images, videos, send you links and sell you stuff.

You can ask them about the weather, tell them to send you a joke, play with you, make a payment or even purchase directly from a bot.

(Image source: TechCrunch “Forget Apps, Now the Bots Take Over”)

Is it complicated?

Not anymore! Even for those who are not technically savvy, user-friendly services like Motion.ai and OnSequel.com make it easy to develop bots. Both allow creation of bot interactions like flowcharts. Of course, there is a bit of learning involved but then, that is only to be expected.

Bots are here to stay.

Can we do something about them?

Yes, make friends with them, they will outlast us.

Anand Mokashi is an IT Lecturer, Consultant and Digital Media Specialist with a passion for all things online. Email: anand_mokashi@consultant.com

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