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State of the Bots 2018 by Yoav Barel, CEO & Founder, Chatbot Summit

Where is the Bot revolution headed? What should we expect from the Bot economy in the next year, 2 years, 5 years, 10 years and so on? Yoav Barel, Founder of Chatbot Summit, the world’s leading Chatbot conference, gives us insight into the “State of the Bots” in his opening keynote at the Third International Chatbot Summit in Tel Aviv

1000+ attendees gathered at the Main stage at the David Intercontinental Hotel as Yoav welcomed the crowd. Yoav started off by mentioning the “elephant in the room”- that the hype around bots has dissolved and the buzz is not as big as it was a few years ago. Luckily for everyone in the room, Yoav referred to the Gartner Hype Cycle to reassure the crowd that this halt is quite normal for any tech disruptor.

“This is the natural revolution, of EVERY revolution”

The same cycle happened with apps in 2008. Apps were not that great to start. The hype was strong at first but it took 3-5 years of ups and downs until they hit mass market. The reason is that the markets job is to wipe out the “we-cant’s” and leave us with the winners.

“The winners are those who truly believe in the vision- the vision that conversational experiences are going to dominate the digital experience for the next decade to come.”

Years ago the market was not ready and the technologies were not good enough, but the foundations were in place. The past 2 years we have seen acceleration and development in technologies that enable conversational experiences to happen. Voice technology, messaging, analytics, machine learning and big data are just a few examples of the technologies Yoav mentioned that are going to set the ball in motion.

Voice technology is one of the biggest ones. This is clear even in mainstream media. One of the biggest themes at CES2018 was Google assistant versus Amazon Alexa. Beyond that, Apple just launched their HomePod this month. We might even see Facebook announcing something along these lines in the near future.

These voice assistant devices are enabled by voice technology and these tools are only going to become more advanced. At Chatbot Summit we really saw an emphasis on the importance of improving voice technology in order for Bots to really take off. The product/UX stage panel discussion “Voice of the Bots” featured linguistic professionals, digital psychologists and other voice technology experts that all stressed the importance of these technologies in making AI chatbots flourish.

We also heard from companies that just do conversational analytics.

“Understanding how to analyze a conversation is something different than understanding how to analyze web, which is also different than understanding how to analyze an app.”

Some of the speakers at Chatbot Summit covered big data and machine learning technologies. These technologies, along with others, are emerging because of the lower costs of computing powers. These are the technologies that will enable humans to become more productive and more powerful - through AI.

"Our vision is becoming a reality"

"Our vision is becoming a reality" Yoav stated as he went on to mention a few brands and disruptors that would either be speaking or showcasing the use of their bot at Chatbot Summit.Even though the hype is over, we see that many brands are working with these amazing companies, technologies and startups. We will start to see this happen much more in the near future.

Helvetia, one of the leading insurance companies in Europe, just created a “claim-bot”. Florian Nagele, Head of Chatbots at Helvetia had a center stage keynote and talked about the challenges and successes in implementing Chatbots for customer service. He shared insights about the Chatbot approach that Helvetia has taken to provide a much more convenient and faster way for their customers to report their insurance claims. Insurance companies are just one of the many examples of brands that benefit from using Chatbots.

We are also seeing Chatbots being implemented in sports and entertainment industries. Maccabi TLV launched a Chatbot that allows for easier engagement with fans and audiences. Nitzan Feraro, The Marketing Director at Maccabi Fox TLV shared his insight during the panel discussion “Chatbot Disrupt: A 360 Degree View of How Brands are Coping with the Bot revolution.”

On the topic of sports, The St.Louis Blues, one of the top teams in the NHL also launched a Chatbot, created by Israeli based Startup Pico. The St.Louis Blues Chatbot has been a huge success as it has helped increase fan engagement and overall ticket sales. Matthew Gardner, Head of Digital Strategy of the St.Louis Blues came all the way from the U.S for a joint Keynote with Asaf Nevo, CEO of Pico. In their presentation they illustrated how having a chatbot significantly improved their marketing strategy and they showed the crowd how valuable a bot can be for sports teams and other leading brands in general. Finally, they raised the question- "could bots really replace apps?"

Representatives from CITI Bank, HSBC, UBS, UBI BANCA, Coca-Cola and Northface all attended Chatbot Summit and spoke/showcased how they are using bots

Yoav goes on to mention the disruptors in the room- including Lemonade, Swell and Neargroup.

Israeli startup Lemonade just raised $120M from Softbank. Lemonade CEO, Shai Wininger was also a Chatbot Summit speaker and participated in the panel discussion “Chatbots in Production: Real-Life stories of Brands Deploying Bots”. In this panel, we also heard representatives from top-tier brands such as HSBC, UBS, CITI Bank and Rasa talk about the challenges and successes of launching a bot

We also got to hear from Peter M Buch, the CEO of Swelly. Swelly, the social voting bot, is one of the top bots on Facebook messenger, reaching over 5 million users in less than 12 months. Neargroup CEO Prashant Pitti also spoke at Chatbot Summit, revealing in his keynote that the social+dating bot is reaching over 800k new-users a month.

“Can you have a conference or a talk without mentioning Bitcoin or Cryptocurrency?”

Of course not! Bitcoin/Cryptocurrency is at its peak in the hype cycle right now. Yoav goes on to explain the relevance of token economy in the bot revolution. “It’s because of the network affect”, Yoav says.

Kik launched an ICO that nearly raised 1M dollars and launched Kin which is a digital currency. Sensay, the tech company that specializes in Chatbots, AI and conversational analysis just launched a sale of its new ethereum-based application token called SENSE. There are rumors about Telegram launching an ICO north of 1 billion dollars, and Line the messaging app from Japan is also launching an ICO.

We are hearing a lot about messaging ICO’s and companies in the bot economy that are launching their own tokens. The Panel discussion “New Bots on the Block(Chain)” dives into the connection between blockchain and the Chatbot industry and illustrates some impressive use-cases of why this connection will help both industries thrive.

Last but not least, Yoav mentioned the topic of Whatsapp in regards to the Bot economy. Since the first Chatbot Summit in 2017, Whatsapp for Bots has been a topic of conversation. At this point, Whatsapp has opened up for private beta in several countries. When Whatsapp launches a bot platform It will really change the game for green countries (countries dominated by Whatsapp). Good news for the crowd- as the majority of attendees come from Israel or Europe. The engagement with bots will just continue to rise once this happens. "We will see use cases that we wouldn’t even dream of”

Yoav closes his keynote by reminding the crowd the rules of the hype-cycle.

“Remember- this is the toughest time in the cycle. Just play your cards right, and believe in the vision”

*To watch the full video of Yoav's opening Keynote see below!

Video of the Opening Keynote at Chatbot Summit 2018 in Tel-Aviv,

By Yoav Barel



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