The conversation surrounding the digitization of society has sounded in classrooms, newsrooms, and marketing departments for decades. During the pandemic, the process was accelerated as instant messaging came to the rescue, earning much-justified praise for helping people maintain connections even at a distance.
If there is one thing the process has taught us, it’s that the future has a way of sneaking up on us. So what will messaging look like, before we even know it?
Chatbots will soon be ubiquitous in written business communication, and they present a paradox that flips everything consumers think they know about automation on its head.
Generally, many people think the bots reflect over-automation and less-personalized service. Yet regular, human employees at corporations usually have very standardized, canned responses as well, offering only a veneer of personal service.
Chatbots reveal that the truly important part of the communication between a business and its customers is what the customers have to say, and bots’ role will become increasingly important.
Customer input to a company is valuable information, and using messaging apps, customer feedback can also become actionable. By interacting with a bot, a customer is leaving an eternal record of their input, whatever it is, in a system that can read, analyze, and internalize the information.
Furthermore, instant messaging apps and VoIP present the possibility of integrating video or phone calls into your communication. The combination of fluid written conversation and video has opened the door to digital transmission in many fields traditionally reserved for face-to-face interactions.
Tele-health, yoga-classes, and education are but a few examples of services ready to adapt, and they quickly managed to deploy instant messaging.
Experiences resembling one-on-one interactions, but still taking place at a distance, are essential and more useful than ever before. This will remain true well after COVID, as businesses and individuals alike become accustomed to the efficiency and effectiveness of such interactions.
Until now, messaging has mostly involved replicating real-world communication in the virtual world as seamlessly as possible.
But what if virtual communication were actually an improvement of physical communication? Imagine having a live call with someone across the globe who speaks a different language.
In real-time, the software can recognize the speech, anachronistically translate it, intelligently adjust for tone, prevent misunderstanding, or warn you that you might be stumbling into a cross-cultural faux pas.
The software could be intelligent and integrate with your calendar. As soon as you agree to meet someone for dinner, automatically, a reservation is made at your favorite restaurant and the event is added to your calendars.
This technology will be made available sooner than we think, and messaging apps will be the ones to implement them.
Messaging services will become the bridge between impersonal email and human touch. There is a reason messaging apps consume the most significant part of people’s internet use.
Whether consumers use social media platforms, dating apps, or office communication systems, it’s the messaging that gets people hooked.
Instant messaging has a fluidity that resembles that of spoken conversation. This fluidity is coming to good use now, especially for small businesses, which operate by one-on-one interactions, for which investments in big and bulky IT-systems are beyond superfluous.
Though it might not seem like it, society is still new to digital communications. The technology is in its infancy, and companies and individuals alike are still figuring out how to harness it in the best way.
By expanding its functionality and integrating instant messenger services to more facets of society, we improve the quality of the conversation between people, businesses, and institutions—one more step along the path to enhancing society with digital technologies.
Djamel Agaoua is the CEO of Rakuten Viber, one of the world’s largest mobile applications with 800+ million users worldwide, offering a range of features such as one-on-one chats, video calls, group messaging, social shopping, and updates. A veteran executive with a track record of growing innovative global techs, Djamel is a private investor and sought-after board member, advisor, and speaker.
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