This article is the second part of Chatbots and the Revolution of Messaging, published last week, where we talked about the explosion of messaging and the rise of chatbots. Let’s now take a look at innovative startups developing messaging and bot-based technologies for healthcare, enterprise software, and much more.
Messaging: the new platform for everything
Initially, messaging app companies were focused on growth. Now, they are focusing on broadening out into extra services for their massive user base.
For example, Facebook Messenger, Line and Snapchat have recently added a payment service, allowing their users to receive and send money. WeChat enables its users to hail a cab and buy air tickets over the service. Microsoft and Facebook go further with their bot SDK and API enabling developers and companies to build apps and chatbots that integrate with Skype and Facebook Messenger respectively.
Shopify Inc., the leading cloud-based, multi-channel commerce platform designed for small and medium-sized businesses, became the first commerce platform to integrate with Facebook Messenger a few weeks ago.
In the healthcare space, the startup HealthTap relies on Facebook Messenger for its users to ask a specific medical question and get pulled answers out of HealthTap library.
Chatbots allow businesses to engage with users, and increase the speed and efficacy of interactions. Brands and businesses are starting to create their own smartbots with the help of innovative startups, such as Y Combinator’s startup Chatfuel.
Slack is leading the revolution
It would be hard to write about messaging startups without mentioning the leading unicorn Slack, valued at almost $4billion.
Slack’s daily active users count increased 3.5 times in a year, totaling 2.7 million on April 1st, 2016. Slack is on track to replace email as the main form of electronic communication for businesses: a recent survey shows that its users see an average 48.6% reduction in internal email.
Slack is full of bots, and more and more startups are creating bots for Slack.
Take Large, for instance. It has integrations with thousands of services (from Instacart and Amazon to your local network of office cleaners). Need to print 200 flyers for an event? Large makes it happen. Howdy is another interesting example of a trained bot integrated with Slack, allowing teams to automate common tasks.
As for Birdly’s Slack bot, developed by a French startup, it tackles expense reports. Birdly extracts information from receipts and uses data intelligence to determine the relevant client, project, or travel context of the expense, saving you valuable time.
And this is just the beginning! Expect to see more and more bots to enhance, automate and reduce the workload of enterprises apps.
Does this mean the end of humans?
Some applications are resisting to the invasion of AI in the messaging space. Operator, for instance, uses a conversational interface to help you find what you want, when you want. Need to send some flowers for Mother’s Day? Operator will recommend the perfect bouquet for her. Today, Operator relies on a network of human experts… but for how long?
The ability to define context will be key for the usefulness and adoption of chatbots. Understanding the user, by gathering and analyzing as much as personal data as you can, is an essential part of the process.
Overall, bots are permeating all industries and providing efficiency gains for enterprises. The promise of bots is there, and we anticipate their real value to become apparent with time.