Chatbots Magazine sent a writing prompt and it got the creative juices flowing. Here goes with predictions for 2017.
1. The words ‘bots’ & ‘chatbots’ will become extremely unpopular. This is slightly bad news for this publication and other people in the space, but it feels like things are heading in this direction. The idea of bots has always felt a little cold. Bots appeal to developers and the phrase has done it’s job to get developers on board over the last 9 months. If Messaging is a channel that will get adoption from a larger segment of the population (let’s call them users), the word bots has to go.
So what word do we use? I’m focusing on Messaging and Messaging As a Channel. It pairs nicely with Messenger As a Destination (from Facebook). When talking about the automated and instant aspect, I think an autoresponder is a nice shortcut to help people understand.
2. A success story will emerge. Sorry to start with a downer for the first prediction. The good news is that, we will see the first, widespread campaign emerge from the Messaging space in 2017. In 2008 I started working for a company that did SMS messaging. We’d pitch people on the idea of building an SMS list. We could see the wheels turning, but they didn’t get it yet. Part of the problem was that there was no example to point to.
The first widespread SMS campaign happened when Obama decided that he would announce his VP pick to the SMS list first. This helped from two different angles. First, many companies saw the VP announcement and reached out to vendors because they wanted to do the same thing for their product. Second, in every brainstorm or sales pitch, there was an example to point to. This instantly brought credibility and helped the people launching campaigns explain the idea to their manager.
3. AI will not emerge. Another downer, but we have to accept reality. I was always miffed why we conflate The Messaging Channel (bigger, faster & stronger than anything out there (email for instance))- with AI, a technology that doesn’t exist. It’s getting a little ridiculous the way “AI” is tossed into every use case and the AI is the only interesting aspect of the idea. It seems that half the use cases rely on a technology that isn’t that close without an incremental way to approach the solution.
In 2017 we’ll get tired of waiting and build Messaging campaigns that work well today. Or we will invent AI and I year from now I’ll be wrong but comfortable cashing my universal basic income payments.
4. One more Messaging App will open up an API. Here is a simple one. Either WhatsApp or iMessage will launch an API/developer platform so that organizations can speak with individuals over that messaging channel. Only one of these apps will open up… not both. 3 months ago, the sure thing would have been WhatsApp, but now I feel like Facebook will wait for a few successes before they take that step.
It would be great for iMessage to launch an API. I’m excited for an arms race, where two competitors are trying to out-do each other with features. The features in iMessage, plus the ubiquity of iMessage in every iPhone SMS app is really powerful. On this note, I would be incredibly excited if Google nested Allo in the SMS app on Android and rolled up some interoperability with the smaller Messaging Apps (Viber, Kik & Telegram), but I think we’ll see AI before that happens.
5. A cyborg will rise. Wait, what?! This is way out of left field, but a prediction nonetheless. 2017 is the year where we’ll see a celebrity, specifically an entertainer, that is part machine. This prediction is based on absolutely nothing, but I just feel it’s the right time. 31% of ads on TV (made up stat) feature an ex-military guy adopting a puppy. On the drive hope the commercial reveals that the guy only has one leg.
I just feel like America is ready for a boy band member that has a robotic, prosthetic limb. Oscar Pistorius is out. Who’s in??
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