During the F8 developers’ congress on 12 April 2016, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, disclosed that he was routinely using ‘bots’ – smart software applications – on Facebook Messenger. According to Zuckerberg Messenger is now sizeable enough to embed it in a new ecosystem. Apart from friends and family, we can now also use this platform to have conversations with artificial ‘friends’. These so-called friends are services that are being offered by businesses in particular.
Many people may still find it difficult to conceptualize ‘brand as a friend’, but the underlying idea is perfectly clear: Facebook aims to reap the fruits of the popularity of messaging by allowing bots to be implemented on the platform. The fact is that on a monthly basis more than 900 million people are active on the Messenger platform, while on a global scale almost 3 billion people are chatting every day – not just via Facebook Messenger, but also via other chat applications, such as WhatsApp, Line, WeChat and Kik.
This strategic action by Facebook may definitely be called remarkable. Even more striking is the fact that thirteen days earlier Microsoft had announced the very same thing. During the Build congress on 31 March 2016, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella communicated that the company’s new strategy was to be based on robots and chat platforms. ‘Conversation as a platform’, as Nadella phrased it. Nadella explains that artificial intelligence in the form of chatbots is ‘the next big thing’, just as important as the introduction of the web browser, the graphic user interface and the touchscreen.
The idea that bots are going to play a major role on messenger platforms in everyday life, is central in this report. Although it is still difficult at this stage to gain a comprehensive view of the impact, it is perfectly clear that we are talking about a fundamental shift in the way organizations and customers will conduct their business.
You can download the report for free over here.