Chatbots for SMEs

Alan Moore,

A Chatbot is a simple programme designed to provide conversation with users – appearing as if there is a person responding.  Chatbots have been around for many years, but only recently has the full potential began to be explored.  The global use of Chatbots is expected to explode over the next five years.  This is driven by major advances in artificial intelligence, natural language processing and the increasing adoption and preference for mobile based messaging.  But small and medium enterprises’ (SMEs) use of Chatbots is likely to remain eclipsed by that of larger corporations, and to remain competitive the small and medium enterprises will need to join the party.  Chatbots are already available for SMEs and the more forward thinking are already adopting them for specific functions such as personal assistants and specific customer interfaces.  They provide an opportunity to increase customer service levels and focus limited resources on higher value added activities –  a win-win in accelerating growth and productivity.  Whether in B2C or B2B these applications have great potential for the SMEs – a recent survey suggested that 80% of Baby Boomers & Gen-X business owners are already messaging with customers about business-related topics.  The challenge is in integrating these bots with the existing technology of the company and its business processes, and for SME owners and senior executives to be able to understand what is available in the market, how to adapt this to enable accelerated growth, and how to gain acceptance of the technology within their companies.


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