Bots are hot: what the bots revolution means for IT.

Author:Castanon-Martinez, Raul
Position:BOTS SUPPPLEMENT PART I: 451 SPOTLIGHT
 
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Seemingly out of nowhere, bots have taken over the headlines of major tech journals and keynotes at major industry events. The hype created by Facebook and Microsoft has put the spotlight on smart bots and their use for customer engagement and 'conversational commerce' but we expect their impact will go beyond consumer-facing apps. In this report we look at the potential bots have for improving business workflows and productivity in the enterprise and what this means for IT.

The 451 Take

We are still in the early days of the smart bot revolution but Facebook and Microsoft have already given them mainstream status. Like other industry trends, this can lead to marketing overhype but we believe there is plenty of substance when it comes to their potential for transforming the enterprise. Smart bots will further enhance the capabilities in mobile apps by enabling personalized, structured responses and automating services and business workflows. By integrating them into business applications, smart bots can address gaps that have stalled productivity gains in mobility deployments. We do not believe this will result in a shift to bot-centric mobility but we expect smart bots will play a key role in the next phase for enterprise mobility.

Bots are one of the key mobility trends to watch in 2016

At the opening keynote of its F8 developer conference, Facebook announced the launch of bots for its Messenger platform highlighting their relevance for commerce, customer support and media. In the weeks leading to F8, other key players in the messaging space made their own announcements. Telegram--which launched its own bot platform in June 2015--announced its Bot API 2.0 update with new features that include capabilities for sharing documents, MP3s, videos and contacts: support for location-based services (LBS); and integration with other services based on users' phone numbers. Microsoft announced at its annual Build conference its plans to leverage chat bots to make its messaging platform smarter and more interactive by using Cortana to enable users to interact with bots on Skype via messaging now and audio/video in the future. LINE Corp also recently announced plans to open its chat bot API for developers and corporations to use the messaging app to interact with consumers.

On the enterprise side, we have also seen increased activity, with a new wave of startups focused exclusively on bots entering the market in early 2016. Kore began operating in beta in fall 2015 and officially launched its bot platform on February 18. Gupshup launched its bot platform with support for Omni channel messaging APIs and bot builder tools in April.

What are bots and why now?

Simply put, bots are software applications that run automated tasks. For our purposes, we will refer to bots--also referred to in the industry as chatbots--as services that perform tasks based on...

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