The Rise Of Digital Assistants & Chatbots

by Andrew Collins | 8th Jun 2018

Here at ProMo-Cymru we’ve been looking at digital media and marketing trends for 2018. In the last of three articles, Andrew Collins, our Communication and Partnerships Officer, looks at the rise of digital assistants and chatbots.

Digital assistants may not be a familiar phrase to you. It may sound like something from a sci-fi movie or something from the distant future. People talking to robots, getting helpful replies and basic tasks being carried out. Welcome to the future!

Always listening

Listening statue for Digital Assistants article

Perhaps you’ll be more familiar with digital assistants by their brand names such as OK Google, Alexa and Siri. Digital assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Google’s ‘Ok Google’ have been available on mobile phones for some time. These AI (Artificial Intelligence) programmes listen to the user and use the Internet to find an appropriate response. For example, try asking Siri “How many bicycles are there in Beijing?” or Google “Where’s my nearest Tesco?” and you’ll likely get helpful answers. Thanks to advances in this field, they can now do everything from booking you an Uber or changing the temperature of your home thermostat.

2017 saw a new style of assistant, which rather than simply existing on your phone, instead had a permanent place in your kitchen, living room or even bedroom. Amazon was the first to enter the market with their Alexa-powered Echo devices. The main benefits? You could ask your tiny plastic helper to play your favourite music via its speaker, or read out cooking instructions while your hands were busy chopping and stirring.

Going mainstream

Until recently, they had only taken off with a relatively small percentage of users, normally daubed ‘early adopters’, but that’s set to change this year now that Apple have joined the ‘Home’ device marketplace.

We know from previous new technology trends that when Apple launches a new product, the technology tends to go from minority usage, to mainstream. Take smart watches for example. Samsung and Google launched their line of watches back in 2014. That year 5 million people bought ‘wearable tech’. Apple launched their watch the following year, and by the end of 2016, 35 million smart watches had been purchased! Even though Apple’s sales only accounted for 5m of the 35m, they made the technology mainstream. Suddenly it became ‘cool’ to own one. Expect the same this year following the release of Apple’s HomePod.

What does it have to do with you?

So, what’s all this got to do with you and your business? Well, new tech is always a playground for consumers and brands. Remember your first smartphone? Remember downloading 5 new apps every day? There was an app for everything back then. Ever try iBeer, the app that makes it look like you’re enjoying a pint? Or FatBooth, the camera app that showed you what you’d look like if you put on a few pounds? Neither app stood the test of time, but they were a novelty in a time when people were still playing with their phones. It’s hard to imagine ever downloading those now, but believe it or not FatBooth was downloaded over 10,000,000 times, while iBeer over 50,000,000.

Digital Home Assistants are about to experience that same novelty factor, as people play with new devices, before eventually settling on a few everyday uses.

Google’s own research in this area has found that 72% of people who own a home device already use it as part of their daily routine. They say that these people are open to receiving information that is helpful and relevant to their lifestyle.

Amazon’s Alexa recently added the capability to read your Twitter feed out loud to you, allowing you to remain on social media while doing the washing up.

Now’s the time to get thinking how you could take advantage of this new trend. Be creative, imaginative and think what information or fun you could pass on to your service users.

This article is a part of a series of articles looking at digital media and marketing trends for 2018. We’ve previously looked at The Decline In Facebook Organic Reach and The Rise In Video and Live Video.

If you enjoyed this article and are interested in the work we do here at ProMo-Cymru then take a look at our other articles in the News section.

Everything starts with a conversation

ProMo-Cymru works towards building positive change and lasting relationships between individuals, families and communities. Providing innovative and creative solutions through meaningful conversations and digital technology. If you’d like to discuss how our TEC Model can help your organisation then get in touch.

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