The transition of public perception towards chatbots is a striking testament to the pace of innovation in the tech realm. Once seen as clunky and unresponsive, chatbots were the unpopular kids on the block. However, with the dawn of more sophisticated AI-driven messaging, they have graduated to being the cool kids everyone wants to befriend. Hanna Metz and Tim Warren ask the question, what changed?
The metamorphosis of chatbots into AI-driven messaging platforms is not just a tale of technological advancement, but a narrative of changing human attitudes. It’s a story worth delving into, especially as we stand on the cusp of an AI-dominated discourse.
The early incarnations of chatbots were simple script-driven entities, capable only of understanding and responding to the most basic of inquiries. The experience was often lacklustre, leaving users yearning for human interaction. NLP driven models more recently made the experience better, however they were still limited in the design phase to a smaller scope. Yet at this stage the green shoots began to appear; many companies that implemented them got powerful ROIs. Fast forward to today, and AI has infused chatbots with a sense of general understanding, a dash of contextual awareness, and a level of personalisation that was unimaginable just a few years ago. Combine that increase in capability with an improvement in accessibility, and a consumer willingness to use, and you’ve got chatbot nirvana!
A 2022 study indicated a doubling in overall consumer chatbot usage from 2020 to 2022, hinting at a significant transition in customer service paradigms1. The global AI text generator market size was estimated at USD $392 million in 2022 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17.3 percent from 2023 to 20302. The outlook towards AI and its potential to disrupt conventional business operations is shared by a majority in the business community. A recent 2023 survey revealed that 82 percent of respondents believe AI will disrupt their business over the next five years, with many foreseeing a complete transformation of their business operations within this timeframe3.
The retail sector is one domain where chatbots are predicted to make a significant impact. Global retail spend over chatbots is projected to reach $12 billion in 2023, with a further surge to $72 billion anticipated by 2028. This remarkable 470 percent growth over five years is largely attributed to the advent of cost-effective open language models like ChatGPT4.
So, what makes the AI-driven messaging platforms the darling of the digital domain? For starters, their abilities reach far beyond the 24/7 availability traditional chatbots once offered. Equipped with the ability to learn from past interactions, they are continuously improving and refining their responses over time. AI-driven messaging promises a level of consistency in service delivery, yet with a personalised touch that was once a far-fetched dream. Unlike their predecessors, they can comprehend context, process and create images, read documents, access the internet, grasp nuances, and provide responses that are not just accurate but also contextually relevant and engaging.
The ‘Chatbot Rebrand’ is not just a byproduct of enhanced functionality. It’s also a testament to a broader acceptance and appreciation of AI’s potential. The narrative has shifted from the fear of robots taking over jobs to the anticipation of AI augmenting human capabilities. It’s a subtle yet profound shift in perspective that underscores a larger societal acceptance of our AI cohabitants.
The message for businesses is clear: The AI train is not just coming, it’s already here, and it’s time to get on board. Adapting to AI-driven messaging is not about jumping on the bandwagon of the latest tech trend; it’s about embracing a shift in customer engagement. It’s about understanding that the fusion of AI and human intelligence is the new frontier in delivering superior customer experience.
1. 2022 Simplr
3. 2023 Clutch