Guest Post from MindLink
In the past few weeks, the world has gone "chatbot" crazy with the announcement of new ‘ChatBot Shops’ and Connectors on a near daily basis. What started with Facebook’s Messenger Bot Store, has already been in the works for quite some time with Google. Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft (with Cortana and Tay) too are working on their own iterations of intelligent bots.
What are Chatbots? A Crash Course
Chatbots are a computerized response to something said or requested in a messaging channel or the like. The idea is to create a seamless experience for users, who can access services and information directly via a messaging app by chatting with a “bot” without ever having to leave the application. Messaging platforms hence become the "central place of operation" by intelligently connecting all relevant systems to it, via chatbots/connectors.
B2C & C2B Bots - the Obvious Use Case
Integrating chatbots with consumer messaging platforms sounds like a dream come true for Business-to-Consumer firms and end users alike. After all, by 2018, the number of chat app users will reach 2 billion and represent 80% of smartphone users.
The posterchild, Facebook, has over 900 million users. Now, you can check out your friends’ holiday snaps on Facebook while simultaneously paying your utility bill (Bank of America now connect with customers via Facebook Messenger). Or you can tag your friends whilst sorting out dinner with Burger King – all without ever leaving the messenger app.
If you are a business, interaction with your potential customers has just gotten truly "real-time," opening up yet another channel to generate sales - we expect this to be a highly lucrative affair.
The current buzz however mainly focuses on the big brands and household consumer names.
Yet, bots have been used in a business-to-business context for years - especially within Financial Services. The use cases are equally as impressive and powerful as their consumer counterparts, enabling firms to build competitive advantage based on faster access to data, more informed decision making and better processes, in the office and whilst on the move via enterprise mobility.
Here are some of the advantages that can be achieved by using chatbots within an enterprise mobility & messaging platform:
- Combining people's knowledge with system data for a 360° view on subject/projects
- Access to contextual data within chat channels, allowing for more informed decision making
- Time savings and cut back on disruptions due to "log on/log off" into separate systems
- Less margin for error due to switching systems and migrating data between them manually
- More agility and responsiveness by bringing data sources together
In short, chatbots in a B2B environment are about streamlining business processes whether that is at your desk or securely on your mobile. By using tools such as MindLink for MobileIron, the entire experience doesn’t just make a firm more productive, but also does so in a completely secure environment. The amount of systems and apps in use today is staggering – a Netskope survey found that 579 apps on average were in use per organization in the past quarter. The time and information lost whilst switching back and forth is mind-numbing, as is the task of securing them all.
Chatbots, on the other hand, allow firms to transform their corporate messaging platforms into the central place of working, by connecting it to other internal/external systems and giving employees access to data straight within them. Companies can embed messaging rooms within SharePoint, build bots to receive the latest Social Media feeds, monitor competitors, or connect CRM systems to get customer data right within channels. ERP, Jira, Zendesk, document management, operational monitoring, developer tools... the list of system connections is endless.
An example for the trading community: One financial firm uses a chatbot that monitors data from a third party trading application supplying prices to clients. Requests (via their messaging platform) for a better automated price can be processed and, depending on the client rating, trade size and market activity from other feeds, intelligently alert the sales desk, warning of pending market flow before trades are executed, all real-time, all within the chat system.
Let’s bring it home: chatbots are here to stay! Not technically a new development, the “hype” created around this new concept of interconnected systems and tools will create new ways for consumers to interact with brands and vice versa, but it will also allow firms to work smarter and make sense of the jungle of apps that has flooded their workspaces and put such a large strain on IT departments and infrastructure alike.
It seems like chatbots could soon become an interesting alternative for certain tasks that are dominated by apps today.