Posted by Evelyn Frederickson ● 5/24/18 1:20 PM
Bots for Business: A Practical Guide
What’s all this business about bots?
There has been a lot of buzz around the quickly-evolving world of artificial intelligence, automation, and call agents. The prolific and aggressive development of emerging tech means that we certainly have yet to reach the pinnacle of this field’s potential.
Fortunately, many companies are using early discoveries in these fields to reap rewards from the pragmatic application of business bots. We’ve compiled a brief need-to-know guide about bots for business.
What Are Bots?
On a high level, business bots are automated transactions - typically within a conversational framework - that are used to supplement human interactions.
Bots represent a new kind of "universal user interface." They make human-machine interactions more streamlined by letting users access all the services you want from a single place (your chat application).
Some are just fun. For example, Poncho is a bot that will have a personalized convo with you about the weather and I’m sure by now you’ve ‘met’ Siri and Alexa.
We interact with chatbots more than we realize. They are helpful, easy to use, and fun to stump with obscure questions. Things get even more interesting when we look at the other side of the coin, though - the businesses behind the bots and the bots behind the businesses.
Why are business bots getting so much attention?
There is a trifecta at play when it comes to business bots and why so many of us are on the edge of our seats to see their potential value unfold.
Major messaging platforms have caught on and are integrating “bots” and “micro-apps” into their strategic roadmaps. Facebook, for example, has its billion-user Messenger platform for business. In other words; business bots continue to secure the necessary support and development to thrive for years to come.
Second, businesses want to reach their consumers by any means necessary. No surprise here! For attention-seeking brands, retailers, and service providers, having bots on prolific social platforms empowers marketers to reach a broader audience in a more targeted, personalized way.
The third reason that business bots are attracting so much attention is that, apparently, customers want to talk back! Different than passive print advertising or intrusive email campaigns, business bots fundamentally change the dynamic between consumers and brands. The everyday user not only appreciates the information being shared but they are actively seeking it out and even integrating bots into their personal routines.
User experience is key to make enterprise tools efficient, so at AODocs we are very excited about chatbots as "universal UI." It’s this win-win-win scenario that is inciting wide-spread curiosity and optimism.
Who’s using business bots?
When bots first appeared in the business landscape they had two notable functions: customer service and sales.
Strategic companies of all sizes jumped at the opportunity to use conversation and voice features to engage customers in a scalable, personalized way. Specifically, chatbots that automate consumer-related conversations successfully enhance brand engagement.
Leveraging business bots for front-end optimization is off to a strong start and will likely continue to permeate the marketing arena as the technology solutions evolve.
Unfortunately, as mentioned before, we all like stumping Alexa with a question that challenges ‘her’ programmed ideas of human language. Ask her to ‘find’ an expert in genetic engineering and she will likely give you the top technical trade school within your immediate geographic area, for example. While the AI side of bots continues to improve, their strength is assisting in structured, predictable, and scripted situations.
Fortunately, businesses have identified several business use cases where applying a scripted bot can still achieve significant value-adds.
Where is the value?
As mentioned before, the bot buzz is bigger than just the current application. It is the evolution of how people interface with products and services. Internal production and collaboration is no exception:
The value for businesses has proliferated across departments for any and almost all tasks that are predictable and repetitive. Enterprise-grade bots are personal assistants, travel agents, and meeting coordinators.
For HR teams, business bots can address on-boarding questions and manage vacation time for employees. Overstock, for example, uses a chatbot named Mila that gives managers a heads up when one of their employees calls in sick. The Revevol HR bot goes even further. By using AODocs as the process backbone and Workplace by Facebook as the UI, this HR bot and can automate and coordinate the entire hiring and interview process.
“These business bots will splinter business processes into nano-organizational units and transform both external touch points and internal operational nodes. Business bots will be the new intangible assets owned and reported by businesses in future. Harvesting and integrating the value derived from these intelligent assets will become crucial for business success.” Chatbots Magazine
Business bots have introduced as new generation of UI for internal and external users that bring a significant value-add. The possibilities are virtually limitless and the continued evolution of AI will only enhance functionality and potential of bots.
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