There has been quite a buzz around chatbots and bot platforms since late last year. And this is going to be the trend for the whole of this year as well.

For those who have been aloof to the whole hype around this, I’ll give a quick sense on what’s been happening.

There are a few ways how people are looking at bots :

  1. Chat-based assistants : you need to download an app(or could be an invisible app) where you can chat about a specific purpose or it can be a generic bot. This can be a completely automated bot like Luka(to find restaurants around you) or Digit (to manage your personal finance). Or it can be a hybrid of human operators and machine intelligence like Magic, Operator etc.
  2. Bot platforms : Slack, Line, Kik, Telegram and now Facebook have opened up their chatbot platforms.
    In a way, most of the messaging platforms are fighting amongst each other to be the bot platform of the future. This is primarily because most users prefer text to communicate and they are spending a lot of time on these messaging apps already. And nobody wants to miss out on this opportunity.
  3. Bots-as-a-Service : As Sarah mentions in this post, if bots are the next big thing, then whatever makes bot-building easy and cross-platform will be huge. With all the messaging platforms opening up their interface, it’s still not simple for someone like me, who can’t code, to build a bot and deploy it right away.
    There is a huge opportunity here to bridge this gap and allow anyone to have business logic running over an automated chat interface. Again, it will be a mix of rule based approach(think of having multiple if-else statements) and then NLP piece would come in.

What are we still missing?

Yes, there is a browser too!

Among all this noise, what we seem to forget is one of the widely used app on our mobile device : our very own mobile browser. And the fact that it is possible to chat within a browser as well. All the 2 billion smartphones have one browser or the other.

Imagine this — you are looking to order medicines and you land up on this CareOnGo convBot through a google search.

Or you might want to book a beauty service and MyGlamm bot chats with you and takes your order. Or you can interact with a potential employer over a bot, like how Pipemonk is doing it.

The difference being that you are landing up on convBots instead of the traditional websites.

There are a couple of interesting points which make a strong case for mobile browser being the bot platform :

  • No change in user behaviour : If you are new in town and need a haircut, you won’t go on Messenger or Telegram, you’d just do a google search. Switching to a messaging app altogether for this can be a huge shift in user behaviour.
  • Huge Reach : According to a Morgan Stanley report, US mobile browser audiences are 2X larger than app audiences across the top 50 mobile web properties and have grown 1.2X faster over the past 3 years.

Mobile web experience is frustrating. Why don’t we try and fix it then instead of just abandoning such a huge platform altogether and leaving it to God’s mercy.

ChatBots on mobile web is the first step in this direction!

PS : We, at Tars, are doing something around this. Check us out.

We are always looking for interesting people to work with us at Tars. If “what we do” seems like fun to you, drop me a line at ish [at] hellotars [dot] com 🙂