Chatots are primarily thought of as consumer-facing solutions. They bring life to customer interactions by doing business over chat, in real-time. However, what can get overlooked is that chatbots are now becoming integral to how teams communicate with each other internally in organizations. We’re talking about how HR, IT, marketing, sales, support, product, finance, and other teams work. Let’s look at how chatbots are changing how teams communicate and how you could adopt some of these practices for your team or organization — not in the distant future, but starting today.
From email and hallway conversations to automations
Thus far, many important processes are managed solely via emails and random conversations between colleagues. This introduces numerous errors and silos within teams. Conversations are easily lost, inaccurate information is communicated, and mistakes are made, which aren’t found out until months later. All this greatly erodes the quality of the customer experience.
Bots are a great alternative to this ad-hoc approach to how work gets done. Bots facilitate integration and automation. Previously, each team had their own proprietary tool — CRM for sales, marketing automation for marketing, HRMS for HR, and so on. These tools work great for their own teams, but once a stakeholder from another department like finance is required to input something into one of these tools, it all falls apart.
There are, of course, integrations between these apps. In most cases, these are custom-made integrations that are not nimble and don’t adapt to changes in the organization easily. You could build an amazing custom integration between Salesforce and ServiceNow. Still, once your sales team decides to restructure their Salesforce “org,” you’ll need to hire a consultant again to rebuild the integration. This greatly delays processes.
This is where chatbots make a huge difference in how teams communicate. Chatbots don’t need external expertise to maintain. An in-house IT team, or in many cases, the very team that uses the bot can make the change on their own with little to no effort. We’re talking about creating custom fields and ensuring those custom fields are synced across two disparate platforms like Salesforce and ServiceNow. We’re talking about enabling processes that are primarily bottom-up driven — they are needs that line of business workers feel the need for and can implement on their own without having to run to IT for help. This is powerful.
When it comes to communication, this type of flexible yet systematic integration between applications enables much better communication and collaboration between team members. While some may fantasize about bots replacing humans, the reality is that bots are here to enable better communication and make humans better at what they already do.
Companies will look to technologies like bots to augment their smaller and leaner workforces. Typically, computers are cheaper, faster, and more predictable at closed-loop processes than humans. Bots are a prime example of this fact. If computers have been leveraged to do much of the mundane tasks that previously secretaries and manual laborers used to do, then chatbots are set to do the same thing for today’s enterprise processes.
From big apps to small text messages
Bots aren’t meant to be a replacement for traditional enterprise platforms like CRM, ERP, and ITSM. However, they are finding a sweet spot as they sit between these apps and act as an abstraction layer on top of these apps. Most of these platforms were built at a time when the autonomy of teams was the need of the hour. They drove the first wave of digital transformation — going from paper and desktop to the cloud. Bots represent the next wave of digital disruption — going from standalone mammoth cloud apps to nimble cloud-based conversations.
The impact this has on the bottom line of a company is tremendous. The first reason is the speed of operations. Processes that took days or months can be completed in minutes with the help of a bot. Rather than having manual sign-off at every step, automation speeds things up. Think about IT repeatedly signing off on materials for new employees, or setting up staging environments for QA teams.
In many cases, this is repetitive work that can be fully automated. However, this kind of automation isn’t the focus of the large cloud platforms. They were built to merely digitize these operations. Bots, on the other hand, are built to automate these mundane tasks using the power of artificial intelligence and custom rules created by team members themselves. As operations are sped up, and more work gets done, it directly impacts the bottom line of the organization.
Second, the customer experience is greatly enhanced. As teams function seamlessly, customers are happy that they aren’t left waiting for the cogs to move internally. These customers can be external, paying customers of an organization or internal customers in the form of executive management or other teams. Customer experience is where the battle is won or lost for modern cloud applications, and bot technology is the best bet organizations have at delivering this kind of customer experience.
A coming of age for chatbot startups
There is a flurry of activity in the chatbots space today. From startups just about taking flight to those that are already embedded deep into enterprises’ workloads, it’s all happening. Large organizations like Google and Amazon are investing billions into developing AI bots, and startups are coming up with innovative solutions that work for businesses today. It is an exciting time in the AI ecosystem because of the advent of bots.
Most bot vendors are out to build cross-function solutions. The most common pain points being addressed are customer support, lead scoring and nurturing, and HR onboarding. Vendors like Sonar, Workato, Vizir, and Botstar come to mind. They have a huge opportunity ahead of them, and the territory is, for the most part, unexplored. With most enterprises just dipping their toes into the world of bots, these organizations are well-positioned to capitalize on the growing need for bots in the workspace.
Apart from this, there are specialized bot platforms. Finn AI is bringing bots to the banking & finance sector, Dynasty is capturing territory in the real estate space, Arkose Labs is setting up bots as a line of defense against fraud, and finally, HopIn is building bot solutions on top of Google’s Dialogflow platform. Each of these startups is taking different routes to bot stardom. They believe they can solve problems that the generalist bot platforms aren’t best suited for.
Chatbots communication: Your team will get the message
It’s an excellent time for chatbot technology. If you’re out looking for a bot solution for your unique business challenges, there are many options out there. They range from multipurpose to niche solutions, from automating entire processes to just automating one part of a larger process — the choices are endless. No matter what your need is, you’re bound to find a bot solution for it.
Bots have the potential to transform how organizations work. They completely change how teams communicate with each other. Most of all, they bring a speed of operations that wasn’t possible before, and in doing so, greatly enhance the customer experience. Why wait till everyone is on board with bots to play catch up? Start right now, and be ahead of the game. Find a bot solution that works for your business and automate away!
Featured image: Pixabay
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