We Need To Talk About Chatbots

chatbotsRemember all the chat about chatbots last year? Brands were falling over themselves to get in on the chatbot action. However, the majority of publishers and authors were conspicuous by their absence.

Described as “the new apps” by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and featuring on more than a few digital trends prediction lists, chatbots are moving away from their retail and customer service roots.

Today, there are weather bots, travel bots, fashion bots, attorney bots, CV bots – there’s even a Robbie Williams bot. What we don’t have, however, are endless publishing bots. And that begs the question, as posed in a recent article on The Bookseller: what’s holding publishers back?

The most obvious reasons are lack of budget, insufficient technical skills and a traditional mindset. But, is it more than that? What about the ‘creepy’ factor? This is something that often gets raised whenever the subject of chatbots comes up in conversation.

Speaking about this, Ron Murphy, co-founder of BAM Mobile, explains: “Brands need to tread carefully. Common sense should apply.”

This means companies need to be mindful of how often they broadcast notifications. They should also be transparent about the data being gathered and whether the user is communicating with a bot or a human.

As is so often the way, the publishing industry is well-placed to make the most of chatbot technology. Surely, friendly chatbots are simply the next step after compelling characters, rich narratives and smart story-telling?

The race is on. Are you ready to join the chatbot party?

Date Published : 03rd of February 2017

Steve Odart

Published by : Steve Odart

About the Author : Steve Odart is the founder of Ixxus, with 28 years experience in the publishing industry. He started life at the London College of Printing, following his grandfather into the printing industry. He spent many years working with Quark through its launch of Quark XPress, and the Quark Publishing System, before setting up a publishing division within one of the UK’s largest Sun Microsystems Resellers. He then joined Oracle, as EMEA Business Development Director – Publishing and Media, prior to founding Ixxus in 2004. Steve has an extensive knowledge of publishing past, present and future, and has worked with the majority of the largest global publishers in his career to date.