Communications Expert: This Is The Year Messaging (Actually) Matches Its Hype
Anurag Lal, President & CEO of Infinite Convergence Solutions, explores how messaging platforms can function as productivity tools
In 2016, some of the biggest tech companies, like Google and Microsoft, announced advanced messaging platforms that changed the messaging landscape. Google Allo, focused largely on consumer use, features the Google Assistant to help users with everything from getting directions to finding movie times, all within the chat interface. Microsoft Teams, positioned as a Slack competitor, includes integrations with Microsoft Word and PowerPoint, allowing simple collaboration for teams working on projects, presentations or proposals to enhance productivity.
Google and Microsoft aren’t alone. Many other organizations, like Facebook, are amping up their messaging platforms with robust features. And that effort isn’t without reason—three in 10 adults and 36 percent of smartphone owners use messaging apps.
The main thread between the two examples mentioned above and others on the market is that these platforms provide users with much more than a simple chat interface or communication channel. Rather, they look to function as productivity tools as part of a messaging ecosystem that encompasses a wider variety of services and capabilities.
While some may argue that messaging exploded in 2016, the reality is that new tools and features were only introduced and messaging platforms barely scraped the surface of their full capabilities. 2017 is when the full extent of messaging services will be realized and pushed into practice.
Chatbots Will Be Integral to Messaging Services
Since chatbots in 2016 were not as reliable as promised, that is now a huge focus for the upcoming year. An example is Microsoft’s own chatbot, Tay, who was one of the first chatbots with an artificial intelligence architecture to make its way into the wide consumer domain. Tay didn’t have a specific purpose, but rather was meant to function as any other human. Unfortunately, the data collection, which is what allows Tay to learn and improve, encouraged Tay to become an unruly, and some would argue, offensive chatbot. Since then, Microsoft has removed Tay and announced a commitment to continuing research and development in artificial intelligence.
So while chatbots didn’t reach human intelligence in 2016, they did successfully prove their worth as helpful assistants. For example, NetSfere, an enterprise-grade messaging service, introduced its own chatbot, Net-C, which encourages engagement from its users by prompting them of new features or updates. This pushes users to better utilize and learn about the various components of a platform and take advantage of all its services. Others, like Google Assistant, are starting out with a simple infrastructure, focusing on tasks like finding restaurants or playing an emoji-based trivia game.
However, in 2017, chatbots will begin to advance and become more reliable, even being able to assist in booking travel or planning meetings. This is due to the amount of trial and error conducted in 2016, including advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning that will allow these chatbots to become smarter. Thanks to this exploration, there is a much better understanding of chatbots’ current capabilities and full potential.
For enterprises, specifically, chatbots integrated with messaging platforms will become invaluable in helping to improve productivity and even collaboration. For consumers, they will be wildly helpful in functioning as a personal assistant to help improve our social lives by helping to make plans or even improve our health by providing us with helpful reminders, tips and advice about everything from our diets to exercise regimen.
Security Will Improve
Cybersecurity was top of mind in 2016, from the huge DDoS attack that occurred in October to Apple’s encryption battle with the FBI. These situations and others exposed many of the vulnerabilities and uncertainties associated with new technologies, particularly as we begin to rely more on connected technologies.
While not directly correlated to messaging services, these cybersecurity threats forced many to reevaluate existing security measures, namely those related to our virtual lives. Sharing personally identifiable information online is necessary for booking travel or purchasing a product, and for messaging platforms and chatbots that want to assist with this process, security is a number one concern.
However, most messaging platforms were not initially made with that level of security in mind. In 2017, messaging platforms will come under intense scrutiny for their security measures, particularly as we begin to rely on them more, thanks to the progression of chatbots and their increasing applications.
Applications Will Grow
Consumers and businesses will start to use messaging in new ways in the coming year. Beyond just as a customer service solution, retailers will use it to let customers make purchases. You may even be able to quickly chat with a physician and order a prescription without stepping a foot into a doctor’s office. Additionally, we will see an increasing number of integrations and partnerships like those featured on Microsoft Teams.
As these integrations grow, messaging platforms and services will quickly become a hub where users can do much more than chat with a friend, but can get the news, order an Uber or check-in to a hotel. These types of applications will explode in 2017 as chatbots and security simultaneously improve, enabling messaging platforms to truly become integral to our lives.
While 2016 laid the groundwork for messaging platforms to reach their full potential, 2017 will be the year these announcements prove their worth through practice. Through a combination of increased security, the adoption of chatbots and advanced applications, 2017 will provided users the opportunity to realize messaging’s fully potential.
Anurag Lal is the President & CEO of Infinite Convergence Solutions. With more than 25 years of leadership and operating experience in technology, mobile, SaaS, cloud and telecom services, Anurag leads a talented team of innovators who are transforming everyday messaging technology into secure, highly scalable communication platforms that can be leveraged across a variety of markets and segments.
Before you start filling up your calendars with conferences to spark your business innovation and personal growth this year, add CXI 2018 conference to your wish list! For its 12th year running, PSFK is hosting an intimate conference where emerging pioneers and established experts will take the stage to discuss all things innovation around the new consumer experience.
Steven Dean is a designer, educator and entrepreneur focused on consumer health and wellness innovation. At his design consultancy, G51 Studio, he is involved in a broad range of projects that span business strategy, interaction and experience design, service design, and brand experience. He has designed and developed integrated user experiences for health and wellness platforms including mobile devices, networked applications and websites.