Martin Jordan chats chatbots

Regardless of Brexit, Trump - or whatever else may be round the corner - there’s a huge, digitally-centric future we’re all inexorably headed towards. And in the present moment, we can see the first glimmers of that future with the ever-growing presence of chatbots.

They may be greater in number these days, but it’s still all-too-easy to get a bot wrong. There are many out there which know few words, ask inane questions and offer little value to the user. Or worse, no value at all - serving merely to send the user elsewhere for useful information.

The best bots need to have a clear purpose, be clear in use, and be strongly task-focused. Put these three together, and in almost all appropriate use cases a well-coded bot has the potential to deliver a faster, slicker and better service than the alternatives.

Bots are always learning – from mistakes to picking up semantic nuances and slang. The engineering of these bots are often run by companies like Google and Facebook so they are constantly growing in intelligence. And the more they’re adopted, the more they can advance.

And when they are universally adopted, everything will change. I’m not proposing a world where we don’t engage with humans anymore - but even today, the magic you experience when first engaging with Alexa on the Amazon Echo hints at the bright future this technology has for all of us. After using a device that seamlessly understands requests, you don’t want to hand it back. Especially when it grows in intelligence and usefulness with time.

In the post-mobile world, we will no longer need an all-controlling supercomputer in our pocket, nor a keyboard and mouse. When smart assistants have the depth and breadth of knowledge to understand almost everything we ask of them, we will have them do our bidding - whether it’s switching on the lights, booking a flight or sending a message to a friend.

Bot technology will undoubtedly affect jobs - in the service sector, it’s estimated 25-40% of jobs could be made obsolete by automation technologies. Conversely, the rise of chatbots also provides huge potential for job creation. New skills will be required to create, design and manage these technologies. EQTR-X, our Innovation team, strives to pioneer the groundbreaking tech and determine how it can add value to businesses and improve people’s lives.

Businesses need to find ways to adopt (or adapt to) disruptive technology like bots. Avoiding the issue and forging ahead with successful, but static formulas is the root of almost all business failure. In all our client partnerships we’re helping brands consider how they can adapt the skillsets of their staff to work alongside, develop, control and make the most of this technology.

Authentic, human interaction will of course always be massively important - we are only human after all. But the challenge will be in how we best equip people to thrive in this bot-featuring future. And as the technology improves, our connectedness will become absolute as will our ability to rely on these interconnected smart machines. The Star Trek world of summoning technology with our voice will come around a lot quicker than the 23rd century.