Intelligent Assistance and Bot Landscape: Looking Behind the Curtain
It has only been six months since we released the last version of our Intelligent Assistance landscape. Already an update is needed and we publish its third edition. In particular, the maturation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the explosion of bots have generated a lot of activity.
Biometrics Enter Mainstream
We took the opportunity of this update to expand the landscape and include biometric authentication technologies and bot platforms. The addition of biometric authentication was actually overdue. The technology is mature and poised to be soon on more than half a billion devices. It is playing an important role in facilitating conversations by removing painful identification and authentication dialogs.
Bots Beyond the Hype?
The addition of bots was more challenging. The surrounding hype has reached an all time high. Many scripted pieces of software are proclaiming themselves "smart bots." It is hard to assess if there is more to them than automation. What makes it harder is the sheer number of bots. Jon Cifuentes released in August a Bot landscape with over 170 participants. Slack alone is now listing over 150 on its website. At the September Intelligent Assistants Conference in San Francisco, Phil Libin, Evernote founder and now Managing Director at General Catalyst predicted that soon the number of bots would track the number of mobile apps.
There is no doubt that bots and assistants are real and already playing a strategic role. We decided to continue to hand-pick the ones meeting our original criteria of using intelligence to provide answers through conversational interactions. We also maintained our role-based taxonomy. We eventually added bot platforms, a category superseding our previous text interface one. It includes tools for creating bots or accessing messaging channels. We are keeping a close eye on metabots. The category is still too nascent for inclusion but we expect these "bots of bots" able to direct inquiries to become more important as bots continue to proliferate and specialize.
Towards a Speech Revolution?
The speech category is entering a new phase. We are seeing the emergence of new players such as Speechmatics or TalkIQ approaching speech with machine learning. Not only a generic machine learning engine can be used for speech recognition, but the approach removes the need for retooling the stack to support new languages or larger dictionaries. I expect many more entrants and greater democratization of speech interfaces. It will likely reshuffle the space that Nuance had been consolidating in the past decade.
The Intelligent Assistance and Bot Landscape
Our third update includes a whopping 60 new participants, including large providers such as Salesforce or Cisco. It is worth mentioning a few acquisitions of the past six months. They show the entry of large technology providers in the space. If we put aside the many companies acquired by Salesforce to build its Artificial Intelligence capabilities, Microsoft bought Genee, Google API.AI, and Samsung Viv Labs. Our landscape has now almost 200 participants.
You can download a high-resolution version of the landscape here.