Essential Reading Series: Exploring the Chatbot at the Digital Workplace Meme

At Enterprise Digital SUMMIT one of the key topics to be discussed will be the idea of chatbots at the digital workplace and the new meme about the “messaging as a platform” for the digital workplace communication and collaboration. In continuing our regularly “Essential Reading Series” I have put together some interesting readings that kept me pondering on this very specific matter:

  • How Chatbots and Artificial Intelligence Are Evolving the Digital/Social Experience – […] Most conversational interfaces [so far] tend to be relatively simple affairs with a little bit of basic natural language processing connected to a decision tree. That’s clearly about to change in a major way as the introduction of more powerful forms of artificial intelligence and machine learning are combined with new UX channels like voice, video, virtual reality (and soon enough brain/machine) into solutions designed to assist people in their daily activities. These bots will ultimately be unleashed on a) all of the visible digital data in existence, b) apply vast computing power and cutting-edge algorithms to make sense of it all, and c) provide the ability to use this knowledge to converse with us about the world in a deeply meaningful way.
  • Digital Operations: Robotic Process Automation – Process automation is taking center stage again. Outsourcing, offshoring strategies are delivering diminishing returns so a new frontier enabled by a virtualized workforce of software robots is emerging. 
  • The business of bots and the realities of enterprise automation – RPA will continue to evolve, creating an ecosystem where humans and bots will likely exist in the same workflow, but bots aren’t subject to the same time constraints as human users: They don’t need to adhere to work hours and can process work much faster. As parts of a process are automated, and other parts remain the same, being able to predict where and to what degree bottlenecks will occur allows for better resource planning and a positive downstream impact on the overall success and return on investment.
  • Robots to replace customer service staff – Thank God for that – There’s no doubt that chatbots and their real-world counterparts, robots, will kill the customer service industry. They’re cheaper, can work any and all times of the day and can be trained up instantly. You can also replicate them cheaply, without added costs.
  • Messaging as a Platform – Messaging as a Platform (MaaP) —the evolution of Messaging Systems from closed systems in which messages can originate and terminate only in the system’s Messaging App to a ‘platform’ upon which others can build applications that send and receive messages. Messaging as a Platform should include all the ‘platform features’ that application developers expect from platforms such as API’s/frameworks and ecosystem. Although many Messaging Systems have signaled that they are moving towards becoming Messaging Platforms (e.g. Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Kik) in my opinion, only SMS and WeChat have currently reached MaaP status.
  • Bots, the next frontier – The popularity of messaging apps suggests people will happily talk to bots. But much will depend on “killer bots”—hugely popular services that work best in the form of bots. Toby Coppel of Mosaic Ventures, a venture-capital firm, sees health care as a promising market. Bots could deal with routine ailments and send difficult ones to a doctor. Ted Livingston, the founder of Kik, another messaging app, which launched a “bot shop” on April 5th, expects “instant interaction” to dominate. He predicts businesses won’t just have phone numbers and web pages, but bots too. Restaurants could take orders via instant message—as some do already in China.
  • A few words on chatbots – Efficient, function-focused chatbots might make sticky extra appendages for messaging platforms — to keep users engaged for a little longer. But people won’t be staying because they love talking to the robots, it will be because the algorithms have saved them time to spend talking to other humans. Make no mistake chatbots are not going to win our hearts and minds. The best they can hope for is to please us by performing a task so quietly and quickly we don’t even notice they’re there.

Happy Reading!