Where are all the bots hiding?

You know the scene: you’re trying to search for something on a website but whether it’s the pop-up ads, drop-down menus, or the up-town funk for all it matters, you just can’t quite seem to find what you’re looking for. It happens to everyone, and we can laugh it off as just a couple stressful minutes wasted while trying to book that holiday to Greece. However, this is a very real problem for business owners, with Google’s research showing that simpler websites are far more appealing to consumers.

So, the poor website builder, who thought he was wowing us with the latest add-on accessories and fancy multi-faceted navigation systems, has actually been scaring us away. And when you crunch the numbers, you start to realise that a lot of business and money is being lost here.

This is where the chat bot army comes in.

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No, not these guys

These guys are the next generation of technological pimp-my-website inventions, like an AI crack team. It can be as simple as adding a bit of code to a website’s URL and you can equip a fully functional chat bot, which does just that: it chats to people who visit the webpage. And through this conversation elegantly guides you through the website based on your preferences.

This was all Greek to me a couple weeks ago as well, as I just joined the team here as an intern last week. My first task was to research and review all the chat bots out there on the web that do similar things to Ami. Namely, provide a conversational interface (that looks like any old instant-messaging tool) that leads consumers through a website so that I could get a feel for them, and even review some chat-bots myself on a new review website. With a lot of people claiming that they’re the ones-to-watch in the chat bot space, I had a look around to see who’s really worth the fuss.

So, it's my first day on the job and I'm keen to impress. I knuckle down and have a look at my first lead… a company creating a chat bot not too dissimilar to ol’ Ami (in fact, they claim to be offering pretty much the exact same thing) called Astute. No prizes for guessing what they called their bot, you guessed it: Astute Bot! Their well-animated introduction video embodies what they seem to be about - current, clean and trendy. They drum home the point that people do not want to pick up the phone, wait for an automated answer, click a button, wait a little longer, click another button- only to be connected to a member of the customer service team. We couldn’t agree more. They also claim that what makes them better than the rest is that their system includes not only AI, but also that the Astute Bot will pass on the conversation to human specialists when needed. Which is… err… an idea we’re already running!

The problem is, that even though Astute Bot sounded like it was a perfect competitor for Ami, they hadn’t released their product yet. They only offer a demo at the moment, one that I found pretty hard to get a hold of working for one of their competitors:

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“Umm… I just wanna check it out I guess”

When it comes out I can give it a comprehensive check-out. But until then, there’s no way to actually review it.

To my surprise, Astute weren’t the only company promising a chat bot service without an actual bot out yet! I checked out the next company, Right Click, whose objective is to develop an AI chat bot, called IWA, that talks, even banters, with their customers while asking them their preferences until, voila, with merely a few "right clicks" of your mouse, you have a yourself a fully functioning website, decked out just the way you like it. Great idea, right? What a shame that their demo does not work yet and once again, I had no chat bot to review. IWA got a little stumped after our introductions here:

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Just call me Hooman

I started to realise that this is the trend at the moment and sadly, having looked at all our competitors (Amazon, Way Blazer, Nano Reply to name a few) I couldn’t find any chat bots that are up and functioning yet. Well, that’s a lie - I did find one chat bot-type thing called Mitsuku. It’s like an unsophisticated message simulator that calls you ‘babe’… eek. I think it was maybe intended to be a game, for people who don’t have anyone real to message? Perhaps a website for you lonely souls out there!

Make no mistake, we are on the verge of a lot of AI products being released into the market. But right now, there just doesn’t seem to be any AI chat bots out there apart from ours. Amazon has recently announced that 7 times more of their voice activated control devices were sold this year than last year. Furthermore, with 43% of millennials having made chat device purchases in the past year and the Labour Party’s innovative use of a Facebook Messenger chat bot it is clear that more and more people are starting to interact with the internet in a much more conversational way. And whilst there are very few websites offering this sort of thing right now, the point is that chat bots are certain to become a huge part of day to day web-life soon. And over here at meetami.com we take a lot of confidence in the fact that Ami is already up and running on several servers. Check her out right here if you haven't already. Creating AI isn’t easy, and if there aren’t any competitors out there functioning right now, we can only be pleased with ourselves that Ami is one of the forerunners, even if it means there weren’t any other chat-bots for me to play with on my first week at the job!

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