With the COVID-19 pandemic keeping people indoors, It comes as no surprise that smartphone and computer usage has skyrocketed in the past few months. According to Statista, up to 70 percent of internet users worldwide has reported an increase in their mobile or smartphones amidst the pandemic.

As anxieties surrounding COVID-19 persist, these changes are likely to persist: life, for the foreseeable future, will be mediated through device screens. During this period of isolation, the number one thing that people are craving is interaction. Especially for those that live alone, artificial intelligence has stepped in.

The accelerated digital transformations due to the pandemic has led to a surge in chatbot use across multiple industries. Said chatbots help to meet the social needs of people and answer as many queries as possible.

For example, many travel companies used chatbots to respond to thousands upon thousands of queries regarding cancelled flights and refunds; a feat that would have taken far too much time and manpower. In cases where customer call centres were closed, chatbots remained as the only points of contact for customers.

Even in a post-pandemic world, as digital transformation expedites across all sectors in the APAC region and beyond, responsive and available around-the-clock, with guaranteed immunity against health scares, chatbots are poised to meet the need for conversation in the new age of mediated interaction.

Even before the advent of the pandemic, chatbots were making huge waves in medicine and retail. When the pandemic hit earlier this year, the medical sector came under pressure as the understaffed sector were unable to match demand. Chatbots  have become invaluable in freeing up time and resources, allowing healthcare providers to focus their efforts on fighting the outbreak and attending to their patients.

On the retail side, the monumental rise in mobile phone and internet usage brought with it a huge spike in e-commerce as lockdowns kept shoppers at home. In particular, businesses handling necessities like groceries were among those who found chatbots crucial in ensuring business continuity freeing up hands of essential service staff during lockdown period. As demand for online shopping continued to surge, chatbots were part o the frontline, handling as many customer queries from inventory, to restock timings, and delivery options.

Now valued at USD2.6 billion, the chatbot market share is projected to grow up to USD9.4 billion in the next four years. That’s a compounded annual growth rate of 29.7 percent. In the Asia Pacific region, chatbots are growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 9 percent.

Moving forward, we can expect new trends to be facilitated by chatbots, whose functions will have evolved beyond just answering simple queries. The opportunities for the sector are ever expanding.


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