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What is the Facebook Messenger 2.0 platform, and why is it important? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
What is the Facebook Messenger 2.0 platform, and why is it important?
Messenger 2.0 is a huge leap for the platform and for Facebook. It is clear they will give the bot platform a voice. Ultimately, we will likely see Facebook create an Alexa-like Voice First device.
Many assumed the bot was dead already, Facebook made it far more intelligent.
Facebook is already the equivalent to the White Pages directory of a bygone phone era, a 1.2 billion-person modern directory. At the F8 conference, Facebook announced that it is moving to become the Yellow pages and using AI to facilitate the programming to over 60 million businesses on the platform. At last year’s F8 conference, Facebook announced the bot platform and the intelligent agent called M on the Messenger platform. The bot platform attracted many developers and also far more users than most observers have understood. There have been stories of very high engagement and very high sales via the platform. Although the infrastructure for users and developers have been a bit of a disappointment, the concept has proven itself in places like China. With Messenger 2.0, Facebook is moving the platform to be far more useful.
While the quality of bots over the last year has been mixed, a year later these new features could help Facebook, which now has 5 million active advertisers, build a wider, more active user base and “reinvent the way people and businesses are communicating” as Facebook’s VP of messaging David Marcus put it last year. Many tech observers have called bots a failure and assumed Facebook would give up on bots. In fact, it’s making them easier to use and access than ever thanks to elements of Messenger 2.0 and in particular Chat Extensions, which is a way for multiple people in your group chat to chat with the same business at the same time and thereby create a new way for many potential commerce interactions. This is all part of the M Suggestions, the wide release of the Facebook M personal assistant feature that rolled out in Messenger a few of weeks ago.
“We’ve created an ecosystem of developers that are now enabling large companies to do different types of things, whether they want to do brand stuff or whether they want to plug into their huge call centers with thousands of people and allow them to answer Messenger messages instead of phone calls”— David Marcus, VP Facebook
There are many elements of the new Messenger 2.0 platform, but here are the highlights:
One of Facebook’s main goals with Messenger last year was to make businesses use the product more to interact with customers. With Smart Replies, this will be an order of magnitude more successful at using Messenger. Smart Replies let businesses with Business Pages use Facebook’s AI bot engine to automatically respond to frequently asked questions such as business hours and contact details. The smart replies API gives businesses the ability to create an AI responder, powered by Facebook’s Wit.ai code. Today the system will do this in a completely automatic way with no programming on the part of the merchant. The AI and Machine Learning (ML) will scan the Business Page and produce an instant and useful response to basic questions.
Over time the ML will become more informed about successful responses and constantly update to deliver the correct or desired result. At this point Smart Replies are limited to basic questions and intents, in the future this will expand to far more complex operations that include commerce. For example, placing a food order at a quick service restaurant would be a next likely avenue that is not much more complex than scanning a FAQ page. I also see this extending into web commerce with the same very high potential for commerce.
Smart Replies will bring millions of small and medium sized businesses into an area that would have cost perhaps thousands of dollars. This solves the chicken/egg problem to populate the Bot platform, overnight millions of businesses can be on the platform making it very useful. Small and medium sized merchants can focus on responding to questions that fall outside of the abilities of the AI and over time the AI will have the answer ready. Today, Facebook is starting off by providing this service…