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Those Annoying Chatbots Can Save Business Billions

May 10, 2017, 11:29 AM UTC

Chatbots, those little conversation boxes on websites that offer ostensibly human-like help to customers, will be a big cost saver for businesses going forward, according to new research.

Banks, other financial institutions, and healthcare providers in particular will benefit from increased use of chatbots, or bots, which are getting smarter thanks to advances in artificial intelligence (AI), according to U.K.-based Juniper Research. Juniper forecasts that this technology could save businesses $8 billion annually worldwide by 2022, up from $20 million this year.

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“We believe that healthcare and banking providers using bots can expect average time savings of just over four minutes per enquiry, equating to average cost savings in the range of $0.50-$0.70 per interaction,” Juniper researcher Lauren Foye said in a statement.

Much of the savings from that automation will come from, you guessed it, cutting jobs from existing call center and customer support sites. While Americans have long worried about losing jobs to countries with lower-cost labor, it seems clear that many of those jobs are instead lost to automation.

Smarter chatbots will be able to do more than help check your banking balance. As they get smarter they will even be able to help people get medical diagnoses, according to Juniper.

Related: Get Ready for the Battle of the Bots

That’s why IBM (IBM), Microsoft (MSFT), Google (GOOGL), Amazon (AMZN), and the rest of the tech universe are pushing their own artificial intelligence efforts hard. There’s big money to be made.