Juniper Research: OTT Messaging Users Will Number 4.2 Billion by 2021 Driven Primarily by Innovation

New findings from Juniper Research forecast that OTT messaging applications, such as WhatsApp and Snapchat, will see adoption grow from 2.3 billion unique users in 2016 to 4.2 billion by 2021 representing a growth of over 12% CAGR (compound annual growth rate). It anticipates that players will begin focusing their strategies around the development and provision of AI (artificial intelligence) chatbot tools.

The new research, Mobile Messaging: Operator Strategies & Vendor Opportunities 2017-2021, argued that service providers must view the introduction of chatbots as an opportunity to expand their in-app offerings, beyond a mere messaging service.

Chatbots to Diversify & Reposition OTT Apps

Juniper predicts that OTT players will reposition their messaging platforms as CRM (customer relationship management) tools. By leveraging AI technology, these OTT apps will offer a high value proposition by creating a new level of consumer engagement. For end-customers, these platforms offer an attractive means of engagement by allowing for greater consumer flexibility and minimising call wait times.

The research argued that chatbot launches on OTT messaging apps will provide a wealth of opportunities for the eRetail and banking sector over the next 5 years. Frequently used services such as balance checking and regular purchases will be some of the early uses. Juniper forecasts that the number of chatbots on mobile devices will exceed 2 billion globally by 2021, as western players aim to emulate the success of chatbots in China.

the number of chatbots on mobile devices will exceed 2 billion globally by 2021

OTT Apps Must Follow China’s Lead

The report argued that chatbot user numbers in the west will grow at over 190% CAGR by 2021, rivalling China. It predicted that trusted names, such as Amazon and eBay will play a vital role in building consumer trust in the technology.

Research author Sam Barker commented: “Successful chatbots will increase audience engagement, maintain customer satisfaction and generate repeat business. OTT players must ensure they support these chatbots in their applications, or risk user churn to competitors.”

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