Rise of the chatbot
23 November 2018
Chatbots can feel a bit like an ultra-modern, space-age piece of tech we’re only just discovering now, but that’s not the case. In fact, way back in 1950 Alan Turing was already thinking about the possibilities of artificial intelligence, and developing the Turing test. This was basically a theoretical test where a person would communicate over text with a machine, and a third party evaluator would have to identify who was man and who was machine. If they couldn’t confidently or correctly guess, Turing considered this as the machine passing the test.
And so began the obsession with building robots and machinery that mimic (and improve on) human behaviour, which has followed technology throughout the years since. The ability for a computer to generate a text response in particular is something that really heightened in 2016, thanks to the rise of the chatbot.
By no means a new technology by then, 2016 was still the golden year for chatbots. According to an infographic put together by Value Walk, the global market for chatbots went from $113 million in 2015, to $703.3 million in just the following year. That same infographic states that a massive 54% of developers around the world worked on chatbots for the first time in 2016.
How did the chatbot revolution start?
So what was the cause of this sudden uprise? Well, it could be the fact that this was the year Facebook unfolded a very developer-friendly platform that allowed people to build chatbots through Messenger. That, along with Google releasing their voice-enabled bot, Google Home, was enough to spark the ‘chatbot revolution’.
Quickly the industry became all about the humble chatbot, predicting it to be the next big thing that every business should be getting on board with. It made sense, too. Businesses realised the benefits it provided when connecting with customers, allowing them a way to get quick, personalised answers to their questions without having to wait on the phone or for a text response through email.
Chatbots can also access customer data in a speedier way than most humans can, allowing them to draw on information to give more accurate, in-depth, and helpful assistance.
How chatbots are being used today
These days, chatbots have expanded way beyond the realm of just being used by big companies or on Facebook Messenger. Now you’ll find chatbots in all different realms and across numerous businesses, and all with the purpose of making your life, as a customer, easier and more streamlined.
There’s all the benefits that we’ve already gone over – like the fact that customers can get an instant, accurate answer without having to wait for a human response. There’s also the way that chatbots can provide assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without needing to even take off holidays – pretty convenient!
Who could have dreamed, back in 1950 when Turing was theorirising about machines that could effectively chat with humans, that we’d be where we are today. Now you can carry a chatbot in your pocket, ready to help you whenever you need.
Like Scout, for example; the virtual assistant on the Suncorp App. Scout is there to help you get instant and personalised access to information on your insurance policies, bank accounts, and claims you want to track. That means you can go from asking about, for example, the due date of your car insurance policy, to the balance of your savings account, and Scout won’t miss a beat.
There’s currently no app in Australia that provides insurance, bank, and claim tracking information all in one place, so Scout is pretty special. Since the launch of the app at the end of July, Scout has had more than 12,000 conversations, and counting! And she’s ready to have one with you whenever you need, 24/7, through the Suncorp App.
Since they got their big moment in the sun in 2016, the rise of chatbots hasn’t slowed down, and it doesn’t look like it will any time soon. The tech world is predicting big things for chatbots, as they become even more in tune with responding to humans in smarter, more personalised ways.
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