2016 has been the breakout year for chatbots. Bot or AI is the new buzz word for every new age technology company. Chatbots present a paradigm shift from the GUI to a whole new interface for getting things done. It represents a true smartphone first interface, and a part of the unstoppable shift towards all things AI. Facebook says there are already 34,000 bots built for Messenger that allow users to buy anything from flowers to airplane tickets or get customer support.
In light of this chatbot revolution, we, at Haptik are excited to bring to you India’s 1st Botathon, in collaboration with T-Labs. It will be a two day hackathon on December 10-11 at the T-Labs Office in Bangalore. We welcome you to build conversational bots over platforms such as Facebook, Slack, SMS, or any other medium of your choice. Click here to register.
The difference between a hackathon & a botathon, you ask?
There’s no difference, per se. A Botathon is a Hackathon, except the focus is on solving problems by using chatbots on a platform of your choice. The purpose of this Botathon is to foster innovation through developer creativity and to recognize those creations. It’s no surprise that when people put their heads together, bounce ideas off each other and work in a community spirit – the results are exceptionally interesting and who knows, we might come up with solutions to solve some of the biggest problems.
There has been so much noise about chatbots this year, yet not a single bot can speak of product market fit or claim to have millions of people using it. This may lead to some people dismissing them as a fad. However, we disagree with that notion. Chatbots are simply not a change in the device type that happened from websites to apps – they are a whole new UI. Such a monumental shift last occurred in the 70s with the advent of the Graphical User Interface. With the change being so transformative, it will take time for people to get used to chatbots. We, as developers, are all currently in experimentation mode – building things on the go and seeing what works. Same goes with the platforms – Facebook is rolling out new tools by the day, Google with Allo is still very new, and WhatsApp has still not opened up the platform. But ultimately when all these pieces fall into place, chatbots will replace the need to have apps with infrequent use cases. Apps should only be built for things which pass the “toothbrush test” – for everything else, chatbots represent a better interface.
A large part of this year has been spent on taking existing apps and converting them into fast, usable chatbots. While these will eventually scale and be useful, we believe the real value will be seen through a bunch of bot-first use cases. These will be products or tasks that will lend themselves most naturally to a chatbot as opposed to any other interface. Some of these may be totally new solutions which you would have never thought technology could solve. A WhatsApp, Instagram or Snapchat could have never been built for the Web first. Keeping this in mind, we encourage all participants in this Botathon to think of unique problems whose solutions are best solved using a chat interface. And we hope that some of those take on a new journey beyond the two days of the event.
The event aims to bring together India’s best bot developers, so you will need to Apply to get a seat. We have partnered up with the good folks at Venturesity for developer outreach and applications. The application and other details are available here.
Look forward to making India’s 1st Botathon a huge success!