Magazine article CRM Magazine

Are Chatbots and Recurring Revenue the Future of Business? One Conference, Two Big Statements

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Are Chatbots and Recurring Revenue the Future of Business? One Conference, Two Big Statements

Article excerpt

MANY of the 2016 conferences caused me to think, reevaluate positions, and seek further knowledge on subjects such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, to name two. But HubSpot's Inbound conference, my last one of the year, might have caused me to react to what I heard more than any other. In fact, I can boil it down to two statements, one each from HubSpot's cofounders, Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan.

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1. Chatbots are the most important technological development in the past two decades. Considering we've seen the rise of the iPhone, the iPad, Amazon Web Services, and cloud computing in general just in the past decade, no other statement surprised me as much as Dharmesh Shah's prediction about chatbots and their potential significance. So when I asked him later if I had heard him correctly, he said, "Absolutely. Chatbots are the manifestation, but the underlying trend that's the biggest thing we've seen in two decades is conversational interfaces. That's what a chatbot essentially is. It's allowing you to get around the software using either text or voice."

Speech-to-text technology's rapidly accelerating speed and accuracy are enabling users to communicate with their devices in more direct, natural terms. They don't have to translate the thoughts in their head into keyboard strokes; they just say the words. And because of the rise of conversational user interfaces (UIs), companies have a chance to understand what customers need in a way they haven't been able to before, Shah says. However, while speech might end up being the most efficient interface for bots, phones, and devices like the Amazon Echo, the most effective output might be visual, to allow humans to comprehend results more expediently.

It's this environment that has Shah and HubSpot betting that companies will be building chatbots in the future the way they are building websites today--bots won't replace websites, but they will be used to complement them, with bots also being created to live in messaging apps and voice-activated devices, all toward the goal of improving interaction experiences with customers and prospects and building longer, deeper relationships.

2. Recurring revenue business models are becoming mandatory. While Shah's bot talk grabbed my attention on the technology front, Halligan's statement that companies should move toward recurring revenue models did the same on the business side. …

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