Chatbots Are Booming, but Can They Coexist With Voice Assistants?

We all know chatbots exist, but what exactly do they offer?

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Tech News
4 min read
Chatbots learn from data to answer a standard set of questions from humans.
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Smartphones now come powered with the latest technology, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. Most of this is visible to us in the form of chatbots and voice assistants, like Siri and Alexa.

While, the advent of chatbots has piqued a lot of interest, it’s rather intriguing to see their relevance at a time when voice assistants are gaining better mileage and market traction. So, the question is, can these two technologies – chatbots and voice assistants (VA) – exist together for different purposes, or will the VAs takeover from chatbots to lead the future of the technology sector.

Where Chatbots Stand Today

In the generic industry definition, chatbots can be called artificial intelligence with a conversational interface that humans can reply to. Most of you might have seen little pop-up chat windows on various company websites for customer service functions, for instance.

A Deloitte report on chatbots states that the technology “can decipher verbal or written questions and provide responses with appropriate information or direction.”

While many have succeeded in entering the chatbot space, only a few brands have managed to harness their real purpose.

Chatbots are being prepared to communicate like humans. 
Chatbots are being prepared to communicate like humans. 
(Photo: iStock)
When chatbots became the buzz, everyone wanted one, but nobody got its purpose. So, we tell people that chatbots are great, but only for certain cases. You need to know the advantage of having a conversational interface, because there are a lot of stuff which you can get done with an app or a website, but you can’t expect chatbots to replace an app or website.
Swapan Rajdev, co-founder and CTO, Haptik 

Haptik is one of the known names in the Indian chatbot space, and Swapan, the company’s co-founder and CTO, vouches for the nascency of the technology, at least, among those who are using it. He claims to be a specialist in building chatbots for brands, that at the end of the day, connect with consumers.

Swapan made it clear that any kind of market response isn’t garnered overnight. He cited instances of people using chatbots for constant reminders (through notifications), using them as wake-up alarms or even to check horoscopes or lighten the mood with a joke or two.

“Most of our chatbots have been created for the customer support service, giving them the responsibility of answering customer issues,” he said, citing a use case where the technology has been successful.

In addition, chatbot specialists like Haptik are working with brands for lead generation purposes, which helps them reach out to customers and get their data without invading their private space, such as in telemarketing.

What is likely to work in favour of chatbots is their access to a tech-savvy user base. The Deloitte report feels that the emergence of chatting as the communication medium of choice for today’s smartphone-carrying generation, helps them to easily adapt to something like chatbots than anybody else.

The Deloitte report puts a rosy picture on the impact that chatbots are likely to have in the coming years. By 2020, over 30 million Indian users are expected to use chatbots for HR-related functions. So, clearly chatbots are yet to make their true calling, but in which form will they show up?

Chatbots or Voice Assistants – The Big Debate

If you look closely on the technology front, then chatbots are functioning in the same vein as Alexa from Amazon and Apple’s Siri among others.

I don’t think chatbots will confine itself to text, it can function through voice also. After all, you’re basically having a dialogue with them. 
Swapan Rajdev, Co-Founder & CTO, Haptik 
Speakers equipped with voice-assistant capability are set to become the norm.
Speakers equipped with voice-assistant capability are set to become the norm.
(Photo: Altered by The Quint)

Swapan is spot on with his understanding, and the Deloitte report goes on to corroborate it by mentioning, ‘chatbots also interact verbally with consumers, such as Siri on the Apple iPhone or Amazon’s Alexa’.

Which is why industry experts believe that chatbots could definitely co-exist with voice assistants, made available in car, phone and every smart devices our homes will have in the future.

Google Assistant on Android.
Google Assistant on Android.
(Photo: The Quint)
Chatbots can work in a cohesive ecosystem, and serve their purpose in different situations.  

This is where one has to consider the drawbacks of using either of the technologies. For instance, having a voice-based chatbot will require you to speak out loud, something that you can do in your house, but not in public spaces.

It’s going to be a game of omnipresence in this space, where chatbots and voice-enabled devices will become usable in different situations.  
Swapan Rajdev, Co-Founder & CTO, Haptik 

The coexistence of both these technology trends heavily revolves around the focus laid down by major brands like Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon among others. All these giants are working on products that heavily integrate chatbots as well as voice-assistants, which bodes well for the industry as a whole.

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