Why Bots Matter
Bots are essentially the latest re-incarnations of apps and websites. Everything you did previously using websites and apps, you will now be able to do through bots, with the added capability of doing it right within your favorite messaging app.
Why do bots matter, you wonder? If bots do the same things as websites and apps, is it really that different? Why would users switch from using websites and apps to bots?
Let’s start by understanding the problems with the status quo. Websites were generally built for the large screen and don’t render as well on mobile devices. Apps are delightful, except that they require you to download the app in advance of the actual need. The cost of developing client-side apps is high. Every upgrade requires a new download. And worst of all, users aren’t downloading apps. While there are millions of apps, users use barely a dozen apps daily.
Bots will dramatically improve the way we use mobiles and computers. Bots will make it easier and faster to get things done. In particular:
First, bots solve the download problem caused by mobile apps. As mentioned above, users don’t like to download mobile apps. While users consume dozens of brands, they don’t download the apps created by each of those brands. Just when you need to change that flight booking in a hurry, you realize that you don’t have the airline app that enables you to do it.
Second, bots solve the usability problem caused by apps and websites. While apps and websites force humans to behave like computers, bots force computers to behave like humans. Instead of finding your way to page 7, tab 2, option 4, as you would with a website, you will simply be able to chat with a bot, like you would with a person.
Third, bots enable businesses to come where you already are. Messaging is the top most activity performed by mobile users, by a very wide margin. Users already love their messaging app. Bots will be right there, within the messaging app that is visited dozens of times every day, unlike apps and websites which require you to take more steps.
Fourth, bots can scale much more than apps or websites. While it is hard to manage dozens of apps or websites, it will be a lot easier dealing with a large number of bots. When they have nothing to say, bots will disappear quietly into the older messaging threads. When you need them, it’s as easy to chat with bots as it is with friends.
Fifth, for developers and businesses, bots substantially reduce the cost and time of developing and marketing their services. For many technical reasons, server-side development costs less than client side development. Building bots will cost less than building an app with comparable capabilities. This will enable more developers to drive faster innovation leading to greater usage of their services. This will encourage more users to use more bots, creating a positive feedback loop.
Bots will make our lives better and simpler in far too many ways. For some, it will also speed up their lives more than they’d like – new technology is almost always a mixed blessing, isn’t it?
Beerud is responsible for the overall strategy, execution and growth of Gupshup. He also founded Elance, the world‘s largest online services marketplace and has also played various leadership roles at different stages of the company’s growth.
Prior to founding Elance, he worked in the financial services industry – modeling, structuring, and trading fixed income securities and derivatives at Merrill Lynch and before that at Citicorp Securities. His graduate research, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab, involved developing autonomous learning software agents for personalized news filtering.
Beerud earned an M.S. in computer science from Massachusetts Institute of Technology & a B.Tech in Computer Science from IIT Bombay, where he was awarded the Institute Silver Medal. He is a frequent speaker at industry events and is a holder of 2 technology patents.