Tacobot: Proof that bots are the next frontier

While the proliferation of mobile apps has paved the way for nearly a decade of innovation, many consider chatbots to be the next burgeoning software ecosystem.

With substantial support and investment from tech heavyweights including Facebook, Slack, and Microsoft, chatbots have already found their way into processes as varied as scheduling meetings and booking hotel accommodations. A chatbot is an AI-powered program that simulates a conversation with a human being via messaging services or social platforms.

Over the last two months Facebook and Microsoft have made waves with the release of their own chatbot SDKs. However, it can be argued that few have catalyzed the bot revolution as much as enterprise messaging platform, Slack. Slack provides users with a “Slackbot” that can be easily customized to respond to a variety of prompts and command strings. Leveraging that framework and an API, developers have taken bots from playful replies and simple actions to new extremes.

Take for example tacobot, a Slack-enabled chatbot which enables users to place orders to their nearest Taco Bell. More practical bots have also been developed that can integrate with a user’s calendar, CRM, and other third party apps.

At a time where 20 developers capture 50% of app store revenue, chatbots could represent a new frontier for developers to shake up what has become an app-centric model. There have already been a steady stream of startups focusing in this space including Telegram, Chatfuel, and Pana. However, expect to see significant investment from enterprise players like Facebook. With 900M people using Facebook Messenger and bots already integrated with Expedia and CNN, chatbots have created one more way to keep users entrenched within the Facebook platform, increasing engagement and eventually creating a new revenue channel.

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