The new year isn’t even here upon us, but already big plans are in the pipe for chatbots in 2018. Check out how the landscape will change for businesses and users, as the chat market looks set to go increase the volume to loud. 

Twitter Ups Its Bot Interactions

Late breaking news for 2017 comes from Twitter updating its API to make chatbots a greater part of the tweeting equation for enterprises. It already offered some direct message features via DM cards for brand interactions to try and compete with Facebook’s Messenger, but from January 15 2018, new elements will enable developers to create improved conversations.

By adding a more natural language feel to them for direct messages, it allows bots to take over the DM chat and for users to feel like they are part of a conversation. With the Twitter company being swamped by Facebook when it comes to interaction, this is a late, if much-needed move, and one that could help jog the chatbot landscape along.

Talking The Chat

With Amazon Echo devices flying off the company’s warehouse shelves this year and Google Home devices diversifying at a rate of knots, more people than ever will have a chatty little friend in their kitchen or living room in 2018.

It won’t take much of a leap to see the humble text-based chatbots converted to talking form, with the likes of Pullstring an early leader in vocal “customer success management.” But while this could be a guilty pleasure in the secret of customers’ own homes, it feels like a technology that will sit alongside, rather than replace chatbots, which can be used anywhere on any device.

When chatty bots do come about, they could play a great part in mixed reality, with chatbots providing a natural interface to support augmented or virtual reality experiences. A growing number of mobile bots will also be appearing in homes. People will expect to chat with the likes of Kuri and many more, plus elder care bots like ElliQ will need to offer companionship and interaction at new levels to fulfil their purpose.

Conversations With Your Friendly, Neighbourhood AI

Still more of a “sounds-cool” feature for the tick list in most chatbots than what end-users would expect AI to represent. 2018 will see slow and steady progress in how AI-class chatbots learn to respond and react to human interactions.

The failure of AI isn’t just a chatbot problem, Kaspersky has a long list of issues where the technology fails to deliver on the marketing promise. Still, expect incremental progress as the developers and experience teams start to work out how AI should be functioning.

Of benefit to those growing AIs will be the huge numbers of chatbot conversations taking place that give them some meat to work with, when it comes to figuring out what people want. However, AI will still need more datasets to link to, and more general knowledge before becoming our “friend,” which will probably take a few more years of work before we reach the natural level of chat and information response.

Chatbots Make Tech Friends

Perhaps the most positive leap chatbots will make in 2018 is linking up with other technologies to provide a joined-up experience. There has already been much talk about linking with blockchain technology to produce an evidence trail for key chatbots where conversations may have a legal or regulatory standing.

As mentioned above, mixed reality is an area where a chatbot could make a great impression, from service-focused roles like augmented repair, upgrade or similar roles to on-the-go tourism while wandering the streets of a new city, looking for what’s cool to do. Being able to talk to a bot on the go would be more natural than stumbling around glued to a guidebook.

Surprises In Store For 2018?

Naturally, there will be plenty of surprises sprung during 2018 as the still-new technology of chatbots is exploited in some unimaginable or very clever ways. New vendors on the chatbot scene will want to make an impact, ramping up their features and adding new USPs.

And what happens if Microsoft suddenly throws a chatbot into Office 365 or Siri can suddenly answer any question? That will make a lot of companies and people take notice of what’s possible and want to get on board. Outside the American tech giants, Indian and Asian firms are adopting chatbots for banks, airports and other businesses at a great rate to deal with their huge customer numbers. If innovation comes from anywhere it might not come from a traditional player.

For those looking to exploit it for a business large or small, or to get started, there’s a cost-free option with SnatchBot, while anyone can experiment with the big-iron version of IBM’s Watson any many other options in between.