No. Despite the huge sales of smart assistants we are still far away from them being ubiquitous. The app interface and the web are going to be the major way we interact with companies for many years to come.
They also reduce the load on call centres, which saves companies money and is I suspect one of the primary motivators behind adoption.
Gartner thinks that by 2020, chatbots will be handling nearly 85% of customer queries - that would lead to a significant cost saving overall and the decimation of the call centre industry.
Regardless, the foundations of the technology behind the chatbot is not far from the technology required to integrate into smart assistants so the investment is likely to be positive into the future also.
Even better, it gives companies benefits today. People are increasingly savvy about using messaging apps and, unsurprisingly, would prefer to get answers to their queries quickly without hanging around on hold to companies.
Chatbots can deliver on this promise - when they are implemented well.
Many feel like a text reinvention of a company’s telephone routing systems or The old Microsoft assistant, Clippy
rather than using any form of artificial intelligence but that I suspect will change in 2018.
Chatbots that aim to solve specific tasks rather than trying to solve everything will succeed. This sets expectations up front and improves the overall experience.
One of my favourite chatbots is by Duolingo, which teaches you how to speak in different languages through a conversation.
When it comes to business to business marketing, chatbots can also level up the experience, providing the information that the specific individual requires rather than generic content written to appeal to everyone (and nobody).
This more natural interaction could also mean the death of the form - though we are still a long way away from that and results in building better relationships - making chatbots a natural fit for an account based marketing strategy as well.