One year ago I started working on my startup idea, Skilla; a bot that connects people to collaborate on projects and work on startup ideas based on competences and interests. Just like for every other startup, the first year has been a rollercoaster for us with a lot of ups and downs, good and bad choices and everything that comes along with starting a business from scratch.
What we want to do with Skilla is to create an easy, fast and friendly way to connect people based on competences and interests. We want to work on projects and startup ideas, helping startup founders to build and grow their team and youngsters in finding startups to join. That’s why we started to build our app. Applications are indeed the first and most common tool you think about for social networking, apps have been in our life for a decade now, are ingrained in our lives and are something we are used to.
Are we sure apps are still the best solution?
In April 2016 in the annual F8 conference for developers, Facebook opened the Messenger Platform, “making it possible for developers to connect with the more than 900 million (now 1.2 billions) people around the world who use Messenger every month”.
Facebook, as many other Messaging apps like WeChat, Kik and Telegram are doing since a couple of years, decided to heavily bet on bots. Some say that this will be recorded in history books as a game changing moment for tech, comparable to the launch of App store in 2007, but let’s try to understand why.
Can bots take over apps?
Matt Schlicht, founder of Chatbot Magazine and Admin of the Bot community on Facebook that now counts more than 20k developers and bot-preneurs, defines chatbot as “a service, powered by rules and sometimes artificial intelligence, that you interact with via a chat interface”. Are these bots capable of taking over apps? My guess is yes. A few simple reasons:
Friction-less: Starting a chat is all it takes to use the service, no download, install or tutorial involved.
Centralization: We have different apps in the same familiar environment (your Messenger inbox), reducing both the cognitive effort for us and CPU load for devices when navigating between apps
Convenience: The asynchronicity of messages allows us to manage different conversations (apps) in parallel, as we can’t do with current apps.
Behavior: We are coping with the first mobile-born generation, where messaging and chatting is like breathing. It’s something we grow up with since our teenage and despite all the Voip solution, messages are still the main way we communicate.
Let’s check some stats. The average mobile user downloads 0 apps per month*, and 90% of the time we spend on our mobile is spent on messaging platforms and email. The main 4 Messaging apps (Messenger, Whatsapp, WeChat, Viber) have now more Monthly Active Users than the main 4 Social Networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin), a whopping 3,5 billion versus 2,9. And are growing faster. Bots are the main trend in tech for 2017 according to Ogilvy, as 80% of businesses declared they’re using or planning to use bots by 2020.
Developing bots for these platforms means a potential reach for your product/service that no other platform or marketplace can offer you.
If 2016 can be considered the dawn of bots, 2017 holds lot of opportunities for bots development and reach. Every month the Messenger platform is upgraded in order to make the conversation with bots smoother and more precise. The members of the bot community are open and friendly, sharing experiences and helping each other to unlock the massive potential of this tool.
The bot ecosystem is moving forward experimenting, trying new solutions and launching bot in different industries: e-commerce is already heavily into it, and Media companies like CNN, WSJ, TechCrunch provide you daily targeted news in your Messenger inbox. The travel industry is investing a lot in bots as it is already possible to find the cheapest flights & hotels, book and pay. From our end, you can build your profile, find people nearby based on your needs and chat with them in just a minute.
All of this within the same app you already use and check several times per day.
Isn’t this the future?
This guestblog is written by Matteo Volani