2016 was a huge year for bots, with major platforms like Facebook launching bots for Messenger and Amazon and Google heavily pushing their digital assistants. Looking forward to 2017, we asked 21 bot experts, entrepreneurs, and executives to share their predictions for how bots will continue to evolve in the coming year.

1. Andy Mauro, CEO, Automat

In 2017 brands will realize that Conversational Marketing is a better way to learn about and build relationships with their customer than today’s digital marketing which monitors their customers with cookies, pixels, search and social data. We’ll also see powerful case study data showing that opt-in and conversion rates and the quality of profile information that can be obtained conversationally far outweighs the benefits of email marketing, marketing automation and apps

2. Tania McCormack, Director of Product Management, Flowdock

Bots will be even more helpful, more intuitive, and most of all, more human. In Flowdock, we aim to have our users interact with bots like we do the people around us to get the information and updates we need. Best of all, bots will continue to keep work fun and to make us laugh.

3. David Mendlewicz, Co-Founder, Butterfly

We’re going to see more and more instances of bots helping us develop and grow as humans. To date, bots are primarily seen as a novel utility–a way to get things done more quickly or grasp information more immediately. Moving forward, the machine genius of bots will help understand our learning gaps and fill them in with relevant, personalized information that’s rooted in real data. In other words, bots will be a boon for education.

4. Ben Parr, CMO and Co-founder, Octane AI

There will be an explosion of unique content and experiences from bots as the barrier to creating and managing them drops. This will lead to some breakout bots. Some people will be famous primarily for their bots.

5. Justin Vandehey, Founder, Growbot

In 2017, I think we’re going to see bots grow up a bit, both in terms of standards for how they should be built and how they should be used. There’s a finite set of core workflows and jobs that can be improved. Bot builders who identify those workflows and fit in without requiring a ton of behavior change…those, are the money bots.

6. Jordi Torras, Founder & CEO of Inbenta, Inbenta

Chatbots will get increasingly smart, thanks to the adoption of sophisticated AI algorithms and machine learning. But also they will specialize more in specific tasks, like online purchases, customer support or online advice. First attempts of chatbot interoperability will start to appear, with generalist chatbot, like Siri or Alexa, connecting to specialized enterprise chatbots to accomplish specific tasks. Functions traditionally performed by search engines will be increasingly performed by chatbots.

7. Dan Reich, CEO, Co-Founder, Troops

The word “bots” will slowly go away as people realize that the value is less about talking to a computer or bot, and more about having intelligent workflow within a conversational platform.

8. Dmitriy Kachin, Head of Partnerships, Chatfuel

1) AI Technology – once the Machine Learning aspect of the current AI engines moves on to the next level, and the NLP functionality becomes more sophisticated, we should see some really interesting breakthroughs in terms of chatbot experiences that will appear as a result of that. 2) E-Commerce – when the ability to monetize your bot becomes more robust with solutions integrating CRM systems, warehouse management systems, order tracking, etc – there will be a lot more motivation to realize your offering in a chatbot form. The resulting increase in various e-commerce use cases and the corresponding user traffic should be interesting to watch. 3) As a result of 1 and 2, overall wider adoption of bots.

9. Rob May, CEO and Co-founder, Talla

This year, we’ll finally see large enterprises adopting chat. In our own lead flow at Talla we’ve seen that Fortune 1000s are exploring platforms and what they can do with them. This is how people want to work—and they’re seeing the vision too. We’re at the tipping point where they’re starting to cross over. As a result, we’ll see the integration ecosystem continue to mature into more robust solutions.

10. Lauren Kunze, CEO, Pandorabots, Inc.

Right now the industry needs data driven success stories as an antidote to hype, and this year certain bot applications will increasingly yield real business results. This will help brands filter the noise and differentiate upstarts from industry leaders. Beyond 2017, I predict bots will be the primary interface for casual interactions between people and brands, and people and connected things.

11. Amir Shevat, Head of Developer Relations, Slack

We will see conversational interfaces facilitating productive business workflows. We will see bots augment our life experiences in text and voice in consumer use cases.

12. Mikhail Naumov, Co-founder, CSO, DigitalGenius

In 2017 brands will understand when to use scripted chatbots and when to use machine learning algorithms. Customer Service functions in particular will be significantly transformed with latest advances in deep learning and artificial intelligence. Human and machine intelligence will be combined in a seamless way, to make great experiences for customers.

13. Zor Gorelov, CEO & Co-Founder, Kasisto

We expect the bot landscape to expand in 3 key areas: monetization, security and overall growth in capabilities. A marketplace on popular platforms will enable discovery and in-app transactions. This will drive a higher standard for security, especially in privacy-centric industries like banking, insurance or healthcare. The more companies and players in the space, the faster the bots will improve and the more useful they will become.

14. Marlene Jia, Chief Revenue Officer, TOPBOTS

Bots will be built with specific use cases and objectives in mind driving actual adoption of the consumer.. 2016 was a year of experimentation for both the brands and users, and there were a lot of learnings that emerged. In 2017, you’ll see brands and bot creators doing a better job identifying the use case for the bot and the narrow goals of what the bot should be able to do. We can’t guarantee AI will be at the stage it needs to be to make bots intelligent enough, but what we can do is have a clear idea of what the bot should do and design it based on that objective.

15. Matthew Hartman, Partner, Betaworks

We will start to see a set of bots that are growing, solving the discovery problem in unique ways. We’ll also start to see messaging services experiment with monetization that feels native and unique.

16. Oren Jacob, CEO, PullString

We will see Alexa voice experiences grow substantially in usage, reach, and complexity. A lot of amazing things are being built for the Alexa platform.

17. Jeff Pulver, Founder, MoNage

The way “we” experience the Internet is changing, and that the result of the shift in how communication evolves will be highly disruptive. Communications will be better, easier and more relevant for us Internet users as a result of AI. Summing up the change, the interface between humans and computers is rapidly changing from an “operational” interface (Websites, apps) to a “conversational” interface (ChatBots, voice interfaces). This is revolutionary, given that the “operational” interface has been the standard way to interact with computers since the earliest computers came on the market.

18. Dennis Yang, CoFounder & CPO, Dashbot

We are already seeing continued strong growth in the bot space across all platforms for the first part of 2017. I predict we will see a number of bots hit one million DAU by the end of 2017. Furthermore, we will begin to see more bots that fully embrace the capabilities of conversational UIs, differentiating themselves from the web & mobile experiences to which we are currently accustomed.

19. Tom Hadfield, CEO, Message.io

2017 will be the year of the conversational workplace. With the launch of Slack Enterprise Grid, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts Chat and Workplace by Facebook all in the first four months of the year, the enterprise messaging space is proving to be where bots are finding mainstream adoption. 2017 will be the year that conversational interfaces begin to transform the $620 billion enterprise software industry, just as the graphical user interface did in the 80’s, the web did in the 90’s, and mobile apps did more recently.

20. Sandeep Chivukula, Co Founder, Botmetrics

More push; Less pull. Today bots react to customers. The best bots of 2017 will predict what’s improtant to customers and help them take action.

21. Rachel Law, CEO/founder, Kip

The line between software bots and robots/drones will blur as physical bots integrate into platforms. Soon you’ll be able to control roombas and drones through Messenger!

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