Prof. Dr. Peter Gentsch
(Chat)Bots, messaging systems and smart speakers are hotly debated and considered mega trends of the next few years. Communication and interaction are being increasingly controlled and determined by algorithms. The postulate “Markets are Conversations” is being reinterpreted against the backdrop of Conversational Business. The primary focus is on new communication interfaces, which are the logical next evolutionary step.
Bring efficiency and convenience benefits. Efficiency and Convenience benefits. But there is much more to it than “Alexa, please order me a pizza” or “Dear service bot, how can I rebook my flight?”
It is especially about how we will be communicating and interacting in the future:
> The app economy has had its day – we will interact “natively” in our respective digital spaces without media disruption – example WeChat as super app
> We are using these systems more and more for commerce and business via mobile devices
> Major part of communication to be automated – post-human business
> “Voice” will become increasingly important as a natural interface
> These systems become more and more proactive in initiating and managing communication and interaction
> Conversational AI will become the brain of the Internet of Everything
Messangers like WhatsApp, WeChat & Co are thus much more a further touchpoint or communication channel. In the third wave of the Internet revolution, they are creating new digital ecosystems that enable direct, always-on connectivity with customers as part of holistic digital customer journeys.
WeChat impressively demonstrates how holistic convenience customer journeys are emerging and being used en masse. While apps are isolated applications for specific use cases, WeChat offers holistic transactions from the awareness phase to purchase and after-sales. In addition, not only are existing processes automated without media discontinuity, but existing business models are expanded or completely new business models are created. Too often, messaging is only seen operationally as a new marketing hack, and its strategic potential goes unnoticed.
Behind the messanger interface, more and more smart customer devices are also being connected. These are not only digitally networked, but also smart in the sense that they trigger proactive and predictive actions and processes. Access to this connected customer is strategically extremely relevant – messangers can well take over this gate-keeper function. Access enables intelligent pull communication with customers. In an age where classic push marketing is becoming less and less important, this interactive approach is strategically extremely relevant.
It does not require much imagination that analogous ecosystems will emerge or are emerging in Europe or Germany. Similar platform effects already exist today, of course. For example, Amazon, Google & Co have been building wall gardens for some time, which are intended to bind customers to the convenience bubble. And voice systems such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home also want to take over the central gatekeeper function. Considering the immense reach as well as usage and adoption rates, messangers seem to be able to fulfill the value proposition of an always-on companion best and fastest. Messaging is learned behavior across all age groups and social classes, the mobile device is a constant companion that gains even more potency with a payment function.
The end of the app economy
But why is messaging booming compared to other apps?
We are increasingly seeing app fatigue among users. In fact, only a very limited number of apps are used by each user on a daily basis. This may be due to the app jungle that consumers face. The frequently heard phrase “There’s an app for that” seems not only true, but understated. Consumers are confronted with at least a dozen apps for every conceivable area of application. This makes it difficult to find the right app. Often, the extended benefits of an app – in addition to a company’s website – are also unclear.
Every newly installed app also means that you have to get used to a new user interface. The messaging apps, on the other hand, are all similar in structure and layout, and their operation is simple, even for new users.