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The rise of the integrated bots

While writing this article, I’m checking in to my flight to the USA tomorrow. Instead of using the airliner’s website or app for the check-in, I’m able to use the KLM bot that is integrated in Facebook Messenger.

For this use-case it’s just the beginning—imagine that you can interact with the Bot to get answers to most of the questions that you normally ask the customer service team via phone or social media. Relevancy, intelligence & integration are the key components for a successful Bot.

KLMappBots are pieces of software that automate tasks that normally take more effort of the user if done differently. In my example I would have used the website or app, follow several steps and send the boarding pass to my email account or fetch the passbook (iOS) from the app.

The Bot that sits in Facebook Messenger, pro-actively notifies me that check-in is open and provides me the boarding pass directly.

Most of the Bots today, are sitting in chat environments, like Facebook Messenger or Telegram, hence the name Chatbots. Using these existing chat channels, will expose Bots to a huge group of potential users. The bots help to increase usage of the chat solutions, and provide a more unified approach for different asks. Therefore, these channels are investing in providing frameworks for developers to create and expose Bots.

So why should I use an app if I can use a bot? It depends. Not all use-cases are suitable for bots. As an example you will probably still use your Powerpoint-like applications in the future. Exposing large sets of data, image manipulation and offline-use cases are also areas where you’ll still use apps instead of Bots.

And even while the popularity of Bots is growing rapidly, they are not that smart or integrated yet. It will still require time to get bots to a level of Artificial intelligence (AI) that it will make sense for enterprises to replace their app or even a customer service channel, like social media or phone desk. From the integration point of view, most of the bots are exposed to a single system and cannot (yet) make intelligent connections between several systems.

But keeping in mind that this will improve in the future, it will definitely have impact on our daily interaction that we have with apps today.

The channels where bots are exposed, will make a big differentiator in the success or failure of a bot. It makes a lot of sense if Google, Apple and Microsoft will make their future (mobile) OS available for bots.

Interacting with Siri – which is a great example of a relatively smart & integrated bot - could expose services of your bank for instance. Making a wired transaction via a simple voice or chat command. It’s the next step of unbundling & rebundling.

bots flow chart

Figure 1 - http://www.slideshare.net/a16z/mobile-is-eating-the-world-2016

The AI of the bot will be key to successfully define the specific ask of the user and provide a useful response. There is less room for mistakes, or the adoption of the bots will drastically slow down. And serving the user with the correct information will require seamless integration to several systems of record. Exposing those different systems securely and efficiently while maintaining ownership of the data, is a big focus area for companies today but also going forward with “the rise of the integrated bots.”

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