As consumers spend more time talking to their smartphones and home assistants, a new report from Gartner highlights that those conversations will change how companies invest in technology. “Individual apps are out,” Kasey Panetta, brand content manager at Gartner, writes in the company’s new strategic predictions report. “Bots are in. In the ‘post-app era’, chatbots will become the face of AI, and bots will transform the way apps are built. Traditional apps, which are downloaded from a store to a mobile device, will become just one of many options for customers.”
By 2021, Gartner forecasts that more than 50 percent of enterprises will spend more each year on bots and chatbot creation than they do on traditional mobile-app development. Consider the number of major brands already using some sort of chatbot to facilitate customer-service requests. Looking for suggestions on what to make for dinner? The Whole Foods chatbot offers recipes via emoji-search functionality. Want to order room service? Aloft Hotels’ ChatBotlr has guests covered. Struggling to figure out how to save money? Bank of America’s Erica can help identify opportunities for better financial decisions.
Chatbots Coming to an Event Near You
The average event organizer doesn’t have the tech budget of a massive banking institution or well-recognized grocery chain. However, as attendees grow accustomed to having these intuitive technological friends with them wherever they go, they will expect the same level of helpful intelligence when they navigate an on-site environment. Gartner’s prediction is already coming to life for some events. In 2016, Buzzfeed created a chatbot to monitor protests during the Republican National Convention. At IMEX 2017 in Frankfurt, Frank the chatbot participated in 3,600 messages with 780 users. At SXSW 2017, the event’s mobile app included Abby, a bot that had to answer some fairly odd questions from attendees in Austin.
When I chatted with Jeff Sinclair, CEO of Eventbase, the company behind SXSW’s Abby, he highlighted that the bot takeover won’t happen overnight for conferences and events. “Right now, [the technology] is at a price point that everyone won’t be able to afford, but in another year or so, I think the price point will come down,” he said. “Then, smaller events will be able to consider it, and the tools will offer the ability to do this in a more self-service fashion. We’re going to see a lot more evolution with bots in the event space.”
Have you started to explore opportunities to build a chatbot to communicate with your attendees? Go to Catalyst to share your thoughts on how the technology will transform the on-site experience.