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Is your business ready for the rise of the bots?

on Wednesday, 16 August 2017. Posted in Innovation, Technology

Bots can save businesses both time and money but there are ways to get even more out of the new technology

Is your business ready for the rise of the bots?

From automatic document-collating scanners and printers to robotic assembly lines, automation in the workplace has become commonplace. Yet a newer trend is the use of autonomous bots able to carry out complex activities based on scripts and artificial intelligence.

Bots come in different flavours. Some, known as chatbots, are computer programs able to conduct a conversation via voice or text designed to convincingly simulate how a human would behave as a conversational partner. Chatbots are typically used in dialog systems for various practical purposes including customer service and information gathering. And just like most systems, chatbots come in different shapes and sizes. For instance, some simple systems scan for keywords and then pull a reply based on the most matching keywords or draw from similar wording patterns from a database. More sophisticated software like Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana are able to take natural language processing systems and use a form of machine intelligence to provide a response.

Transactional bots act as agents on behalf of humans and interact with external sys-tems to accomplish a specific transaction. For instance, they can be used to move data from one platform to another or gather information based on specific criteria. Transactional bots can interact with any endpoint that has an application program-ming interface and can become semi-autonomous to perform a wide range of business functions. Googlebot is an example of a transactional bot used by the eponymous search engine to index the worldwide web.

Given that businesses increasingly adopt a multitude of cloud solutions, bots are uniquely positioned to streamline communications. And bots are likely to have an even greater impact as they spread to sales automation, automated recruitment, intelligent Q&A and other applications. With that in mind, here are a few tips to make bots a success in your business.

Learn from your employees

Take a close look at what your employees are doing on the company messaging plat-form you’re using. Tech-savvy employees can easily bring public bots into a corporate messaging platform. This is an opportunity for IT to discover what employees are al-ready using. However, make sure that you have controls in place for the deployment of any bots that are governed by HR and monitored by IT security teams.

Choose a suitable messaging platform

Look for providers that have an enterprise-level customer base and ask them about activity logging and monitoring, data loss prevention setup, compliance support, bot and integration administration as well as other enterprise concerns. On the functionality side, find a messaging platform that is SMS-capable as text messages are still a good channel for enterprise messaging communication and most bots can work on SMS.

Set proper expectations

Figure out what your employees need and the performance capability you are missing. For example, a bot that proactively moves a support case through different teams with automated reminders and contextual support-case data will increase the productivity by shaving minutes off each case as opposed to eliminating the need for a specific per-son in the chain.

Develop an information security governance strategy

Bots introduce new issues within information and security governance. Like email sys-tems, enterprises should also scrutinise their messaging platforms to ensure data loss preventions and e-discovery technology can be applied. Determine whether the ability to bring in chatbots will be democratised or controlled and whether your corporate policy permits the use of public as well as private bots. If in doubt, seek guidance from HR and IT before deploying a potentially damaging bot onto the corporate network.

Test and optimise

Bots may mimic intelligence but they are programmed based on guidelines and access to databases. As organisations and processes adapt, it’s wise to routinely test the func-tionality and responses of bots to ensure they’re still working as planned. Fortunately there are several automated tools that will help speed this process up but human in-spection often offers more granular insights.

We’re just beginning to see the impact that well-implemented bots can have on compa-nies but as the importance of integration shows no signs of dimming bots will only grow more relevant in driving efficiency forward. However, it’s worth noting that not all bots are positive. Increasingly, cyber criminals are using bots as a way to distribute malware and attack websites. In some cases, these malicious bots may impersonate a real person and attempt to steal sensitive information. As technology advances, under-standing the value, limitations and dangers posed by bots will become a vital skill.

This article comes courtesy of RingCentral, provider of cloud unified communications and collaboration solutions.

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