In what has become an expectation in the age of Internet technology, Silicon Valley has found its next big thing – bots. I spent a week in the Bay Area attending a conference centered on this emerging market and the many businesses seeking to stake their claim in it.
Bots are semi-intelligent applications that typically live inside messaging platforms and use a conversational interface to accomplish tasks. In the world of apps, if I wanted to find a status on a pair of headphones I ordered through a typical mobile app, I might open the retailer’s app, navigate to My Account, tap on Order Status, select the order in question, and see if my item has shipped. This interaction through a bot, however, would begin with me opening up a chat service and asking the retailer’s bot: “Have my headphones shipped yet?” And the bot would reply with an order status. At least, that’s the goal.