Chatbots were the biggest trend in technology throughout 2016 with marketing and tech gurus insisting the bot revolution was upon us. Now, in 2020, you might be wondering what happened to the supposed chatbot boom and what all the hype was about.
Needless to say, the first generation of chatbots didn’t live up to expectations and the tech industry moved on to devour the next flashy trend. Strangely, this was the best thing that could have happened to chatbots, allowing the technology to mature with the spotlight shining elsewhere.
Now, we are looking at the next generation of chatbots, which is already starting to shake things up and offer a glimpse of what the future holds.
What happened to the chatbot ‘revolution’?
Sadly, for chatbots, all of the 2016 hype was built around a poor understanding of where the technology was at the time and its numerous limitations. Expectations were high and chatbots were doomed to underwhelm before they even launched.
Rewind a couple of years and leading research organisations were telling us that 50% of all searches would be made using voice search in 2020 while 80% of all traffic will come from video and let’s not forget that 80% of businesses were also supposed to be using chatbots by this year.
In fairness, few people could have predicted what was really going to happen in 2020, but it is quite obvious that these tech trend predictions are designed to generate hype and investment without any real merit.
So the truth is, nothing happened to the chatbot revolution because there was never going to be one.
What’s the state of chatbots in 2020?
The fact that chatbots didn’t live up to the hype created around them in 2016 doesn’t mean they have been a failure. Quite the opposite. Bots and live chat widgets have become a mainstream lead generation tool on business websites and they are playing a crucial role in customer service and technical support by providing an instant first interaction that human teams could never manage.
Artificial intelligence has also progressed a great deal over the past four years and the latest generation of AI-powered chatbots are far more capable than the breed that underwhelmed in 2016 and 2017. The technology still needs time to develop and mature, but today’s chatbots are capable tools when they are used correctly.
One of the latest innovations is multilingual chatbots that integrate AI-powered machine translation with chatbot technology. Of course, machine translation has limitations of its own, but these can be partially mitigated with smart scripting and multiple-choice interactions. However, the most exciting prospect here is AI chatbots that translate conversations in real-time, as users interact with them.
This is really pushing translation tech and chatbots to their limits and nobody can expect perfect translation or faultless conversational logic from algorithms. However, the latest breed of multilingual chatbots demonstrates how far the technology has progressed over the past four years – and why a growing number of businesses are turning to bots as a tool for automating value interactions with customers and potential leads.