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Indian Startups: Are You Ready For Bot (Invisible Apps) Wave?

Indian Startups: Are You Ready For Bot (Invisible Apps) Wave?
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You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Bot technology is a natural progression to explosive mobile growth in 2010s. In 2016, there are over 2 billion smartphone users across the world with more than 224 billion mobile downloads. A smartphone user has on average 8-10 single-function apps on their phone but with no shared platform to help interact with all of them. Industry trends are also pointing towards app fatigue and that is why most of smartphone users download zero apps each month (a US trend that would soon be applicable for global users).

And if we think from customer perspective: an average Indian user has to go to google to check weather forecasts, Zomato to search for a restaurant, Bookmyshow to book a movie ticket, Whatsapp to share itinerary with close friends, and Ola to call for a cab. 

The value proposition of bots is to automate all these user interactions with multiple apps through a single bot app and make it quick & seamless. So you can imagine doing all the above mentioned tasks to plan out an evening through Facebook messenger alone. This will also have positive impact on the $$ spent by the customers as the buying experience will be relatively frictionless.

WeChat achieved great success in China by integrating different functionalities (such as messaging, payments, booking, games, reading and shopping) on a common platform, meeting wide needs of its users while growing revenues by ~40% YoY.

A direct interaction with customer will always help in creating a desire for your product/service

Chat bot simplifies the customer experience by utilizing natural language processing. Currently, these bots sit on messaging products. The important reason behind integrating bots on messengers is that the users find their chat windows highly personalized and safe to communicate with trusted contacts.

The businesses now realize that they need to utilize the 'trust' factor associated with direct chats. These customer interactions, if done in a more human and fun way, can create a strong desire for your product/service. It would also help the businesses to reach customers who are already suffering from app fatigue.

Soon there will be smart bots in the market with the capabilities to schedule the meetings and to assist with customer service during non-operating hours. The global banks will be able to significantly reduce their costs to service the customers by implementing these solutions. In addition to customer service, startups can also utilize bots to improve the end-to-end shopping experience from product discovery till final payment and then with post-sales support.

Bots can also help Indian startups with one other big problem: most of Indians still have low-end smartphones that have limited storage capacity and processing power. So those users tend to uninstall the apps before installing a new one. But bots, with invisible interfaces, can alleviate this problem by helping a business interact with a potential customer without the need of its app being installed.

A single bot app will soon have the potential to replace dozens of single-function apps

Now all the major firms such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft are making major investments in building an AI-powered bot platform. These companies already have strong artificial intelligence solutions, engineering capabilities and decades of data of billions of users, which are required to build a competitive product.

The users might soon find it difficult to differentiate between an online interaction with a chat bot versus a live human, hence bots winning Turing test

There are some market predictions that in near future bot stores might become as big as app stores, driving billions of dollars in revenues to platform owners. So it is imperative for the startups to start identifying the need of having a bot-enabled solutions for their business models.

A single bot app will soon have the potential to replace dozens of single-function apps, so make sure that your business is ready for the bot wave. Startups would find it difficult to compete against competitors with significant investments in AI-enabled invisible apps, BOTS.

Edition: December 2016

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