Text vs Voice and the Rise of Chatbots

An overview of the chatbot industry

November 30, 2017

The inclusion of technology in communication has transformed the way we live our lives and run our businesses.

Mobile phones, Emails, Social media channels, Texting services, video conferencing are some of the sources that businesses are using in order to get their message conveyed to their customers, stakeholders and third parties.

It’s phenomenal how the world is embracing this digital evolution. Hootsuite has provided a Global Digital Snapshot showcasing Q3 data for the year 2017 and the numbers are staggering.

While businesses around the globe are delighted with the market size, there is an added pressure dealing with increasing customer queries while maintaining quick response time. Modern day consumers are nothing if not omni-channel. Industry automation however has come across as the port in the storm for businesses.

Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers

Invasion of Chatbots
Taking a leaf out of real life human interaction and following the concepts of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Developers are able to create a piece of software which can reduce human involvement in many areas of a business. We call it a Chatbot. Industries across the globe are going after chatbots in order to automate their common use cases to reduce cost and simplify their buyers journey.

Text vs Voice
Which is the most natural way to communicate? Text or Voice?
While majority of the people would say Voice, there is no denying the fact that text has widely been adopted by businesses as their preferred communication mode. A Chatbot could be textual or auditory or both.

Although, Voice and text bots have different input mechanism, they both rely on the prowess of their NLP engine. An additional layer which serves a voice bot converts user’s voice into text before forwarding it to NLP engine. Similarly, the response is also converted into speech as output.

Industry Projection
Global industry leaders are extremely optimistic about the future of chatbots powered by artificial intelligence.

About Voice Bots
Despite carrying the advantage in terms of interactiveness and the ease of input, voice bots are still to make the impression as mainstream solution for industry automation. Yes, there are few voice assistants which are doing extremely well, e.g. Siri from Apple, Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa but the fact that most of them are proprietary and don’t offer open source APIs, leaves limited options for chatbot developers to play with.

Whats’s stopping them?
Designing Voice user experience is cost-intensive. Small and medium scale chatbot enterprises avoid investing heavily on Voice UX. Also, There is no application which can monetize the voice – first ecosystem with precision.  The scope for analytics however is likely to change with the arrival of companies like Dashbot, Inc.

What lies in the future?
The fact that input mechanism for voice agents is easier than any textual interface, Global tech giants are using state of the art AI to specialize their voice agents and this will become more pronounced in coming years.

Google is going to excel at mining the web and providing intelligent responses to general knowledge questions.

Amazon should concentrate at commerce.

Google and Microsoft are going to excel at email, contacts and calendar.

Microsoft is eying for Gaming

Google and Amazon would be tussling for hands-free TV and home automation.

Apple is betting on AirPods for on-the-go use cases, and should have an Apple TV voice strategy.

All big players will be locking horns to win access to the kitchen, living room and bedroom.

Text based conversational bots
A text based conversational agent can be multilingual and has a broader ecosystem. It can be integrated with the Messaging Apps, SMS, Emails, Social Media and so forth.  The input mechanism allows user to interact with the chatbot using MCQs, Open text, Slider, Calendar and Clock and so forth.

Chatbots  offer  limitless possibilities to businesses to support, engage and sell services  or products to their customers.

Chatbots can be used for

  • Product discovery
  • Food Ordering
  • News
  • Payment
  • Travel
  • Health

These are only few from a long list of feasible use cases.

It’s pretty evident that chatbots are going to serve as long and far as people can imagine regardless in which form they exist. Moreover, they are going to get smarter with the time.

Udit Kumar
Digital Marketing Strategist/Author

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