2016 was a significant year for the messaging industry. With the arrival of chatbots and AI, the shift towards the bot-centric future of communication already started. 2017 is set to change the way we message for good. We are closer than ever to having a human-like virtual assistant to guide our way in everything we need to do.
Many of the messaging trends in 2017 are intertwined around chatbots and AI. The biggest trend in messaging in 2017 will be the businesses joining the messaging space. With chatbots it has become clear what kind of opportunities chat apps withhold for them. Chatbots will now do the same that websites did back in the 90s.
1. Chat Bots
The time is now right for the world to start chatting with machines. But not just with any machines. Machines that are smarter than we’ve ever encountered before. Smartphone users are already accustomed to the habit of chatting via messaging apps. Now, they will start chatting with bots via the same apps. Whether shopping, booking flights or tickets, searching information or contacting customer service, bots can be of service 24/7.
The essence of smart enough chatbots is the buzzword we’ve all probably heard of by now – artificial intelligence. Often times, we see the future in arts, books and cinematography before it happens. For example, Hal of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Samantha in the movie Her gave us a glimpse of AI’s future possibilities. Machines able to learn from and adapt to each user’s special needs is the key to bot success.
3. Chat commerce and payments
What WeChat has done in China is now being done by others too. This includes creating tools for companies to develop their own bots with, for example, shopping capabilities. Businesses are always eagerly looking for new sales opportunities and the developing chatbots could be a goldmine for retailers looking to cash in on early adopters.
4. Customer service revolution
Any service provider trying to build and maintain a positive brand should take customer service seriously. Businesses will find new opportunities for effective customer service in well-trained bots. Users will appreciate the speed and ease of a 24h customer service channel. The slight worry is that there could be a downside here in terms of service quality and the lack of human interaction. Those with smartest bots and smoothest problem-solving process will win!
5. Voice dictation
As smart wearables like watches are more and more within the reach of the average consumer, voice dictation finally gets the attention it deserves. As a result of a shift in culture and habits, voice dictation will become a major way of interacting with apps and services. Eventually interacting with machines might not be that different from having a chat with a friend.
6. Spectacular wearables
While smartwatches haven’t still hit it big time, Snap Inc’s Spectacles show the way to the real potential of wearables, especially for the younger audience. Smartwatches are still limited when it comes to cooperation with smartphones but Spectacles is a good example of a product that is fully integrated to the smartphone’s user experience even if just through one app. This is just the start so watch this space.
7. Monetisation of chatting
There is an on-going ‘Game of Thrones’ between messaging apps. Yet, none of them seem to have build a strong business focussed around chatting. In 2017, businesses will start significantly interfacing with customers via chatbots. They might be the future sponsors of free messaging as these services for businesses are bound to include paid ones too.
8. Live Video
Broadcasts, snaps, moments, stories… live video has entered the mobile scene big time and will become a communication standard in world of social in 2017. The potential challenge here might be users’ ability to find relevant content since volume is increasing and video content is always a mystery until you’ve watched it through.
9. Enterprise Messaging
Slack has quickly become the go-to messaging app for businesses. In 2017, we will see other messaging apps joining the competition. This competition between apps might significantly improve the app quality. For now, people use separate communication tools at work and at home. The messaging giants would most certainly like to have their foot on both sides of the fence.
10. Social Messaging
Social networking becomes conversational as chat apps adopt more and more social features. Forums and social networks have long ruled the conversation around events, interests, trips and hobbies. In 2017, we will see more and more chat apps offering channels for this kind of communication.
11. Smartphone sales booming in emerging markets
More and more messaging services are turning heads towards Africa as the continent’s fast growing young population is connecting to the Internet via smartphones. The African countries still largely suffer from poor connectivity and a high cost of data which requires conscious effort from app creators to reduce the data consumption.
The Finnish Social Messaging Innovator. Jongla is a multicultural Finnish start-up company specialising in device- and platform-independent social messaging. Jongla aims to disrupt the messaging space through innovation. Jongla, the world’s lightest messaging service has been developed especially for emerging markets where people have low-spec smartphones with limited storage and Internet connections are slow and data-constrained. Jongla is available on Android, iOS and Windows Phone.