Transformers: Bots Poised to Change CUX Across Industries
It's an Internet dweller mindlessly performing repetitive tasks, day and night, and found everywhere on the Web. That may sound like the perfect description of someone you know, perhaps a roommate who is never unplugged from Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or a wide array of other Internet offerings. But it's also the simple definition of a Web Robot, or "bot" for short.
Bots are omnipresent software programs that perform a variety of automated missions in cyberspace for their creators. Among the most well-known bots are spiders, which crawl through the Web finding and curating data.
Bots can be used to enhance user experiences by integrating devices, operating systems and artificial intelligence to provide an interface that is always listening, aligning and realigning to meet the expectations of the user. Bots draw upon artificial intelligence niches such as natural language processing and generating abilities to "converse" with people, analyze their behavior and react. Integrated into systems, apps or operating systems, bots adapt and improve their efficiency as they perform tasks at many times the speed of a human.
The RISE of the Bots
A clear example of the rise of bots came earlier this year when Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Google all announced new services that will be centered on the creative use of bots. In addition, Oracle co-founder and CTO Larry Ellison demonstrated Oracle's new chatbot development platform at Oracle OpenWorld 2016.
Facebook Messenger, Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana and the Google Master Bot have set out to control and coordinate all the bot services available to present a comprehensive user experience with a completely new interface.
Apple's contribution to the bot uprising involves the use of Airpods in conjunction with Siri as a continuous availability of contextual AI platform to its users, transforming Siri from being a simple virtual assistant into a much more aware chatbot.
Facebook's Messenger bots are opening up completely different ways of branding and marketing with social media. Bots keep customers engrossed with pertinent personalized user experiences.
The Facebook Messenger provides a platform to develop, integrate and host bots for almost any industry. Facebook chatbots and transaction bots enhance basic processes such as ordering, tracking, receipts, payments and customer support, and will soon be further integrated into the user experiences on Facebook itself.
2016 is seeing a lot of momentum in the startup world around Bots. A stealth mode startup based in Silicon Valley, Cooldimi is building a bot platform that is focused on enabling conversational commerce with Chatbots. Cooldimi thinks that AI/Machine Learning Chatbots will not replace human beings in the near future. In echoing to Yale University Professor David Gelenter's view that The Danger is not Machines Becoming Humans, but Humans Becoming Machines, Cooldimi's unique approach involves creating super intelligent bots by blending artificial intelligence alongside human intelligence, which is irreplaceable in bots technology for now.
Bots: The Good, the Bad and the Chatty
As impersonal as they may seem, bots are trying hard to engage customers in conversational commerce, offering consumers smarter digital experiences in many industries while improving enterprise workflows and productivity. At times the rapid advancement of bot capabilities seems like a story line from a sci-fi movie. Just as with robots in the cinema, bots can also be launched with the best of intentions, or with darker motives.
The most Socially-Minded Bots are ChatterBots, or ChatBots. Simulating intelligent conversations with humans, the chatBot uses NLP techniques to comprehend written or spoken text to carry out instructions. The commercial value of chatBots increases every day as interesting and innovative use cases accumulate.
ChatBots offer a single point of contact for the users to provide them with prompt responses to queries. Drawing logical inferences from digital conversations, bots continuously gather data to influence decision-making.
Key takeaways about ChatBots
- The first point of contact for users
- Continuous data gathering and analysis
- Influences decisions
- An advisor 24/7
- Pushes personalized social media engagement
The conversational services offered by bots with points of engagement across multiple channels and touch points like phone, text, mobile app, Web sites or even call centers is transforming how diverse industries consider loyalty, branding, marketing and user engagement approaches.
Bots open up a completely new channel for commerce with instant customer support becoming the new mantra. The rise of the bots means fewer employees and greater accuracy.
Healthcare and Wellness
Bots allow convenient access to integrated healthcare support, remote or on-premises, putting people in complete charge of their healthcare and wellness. Benefits include:
- Increased efficiency in critical time-bound communications
- Ensure security and privacy of personal data
- Seamless integration with related services like insurance, home care and remote care
- Easy billings, payments and checkouts
- Reminders for checkups and tests to encourage wellness and updates
- Help schedule and plan visits to healthcare facilities and regular tests
Instantly rewarding engagements for shoppers build loyalty and encourage repeat visits to online and retail stores. Bots ensure continuous digital engagement by shoppers through self-service channels integrated with contemporary technology support such as the beacons, Big Data, retail analytics and mobile technologies. Features include:
- Conduct appropriate conversations at all times
- Answer questions
- Make appropriate suggestions
- Converse to drive loyalty
- Integrate across multiple channels
- Analyze continuously to make appealing offers and deals
- Integrate with proximity-based solutions like beacons to drive location-based conversations
- Simplify checkouts and payments — both in-store or on a virtual store
Travel & Hospitality
A constant companion during travel, bots act as a personal concierge that increases customer satisfaction and loyalty. Bots can intercede in a range of situations, including missed connections, changes of itineraries or weather disruption. Bots can help redraw plans, offer alternatives or make suggestions for bookings, almost without being prompted. Characteristic of these uses are:
- Offer integrated airline, hotel and travel to places of interest
- Address weather contingencies and missed connections
- Facilitate loyalty programs across the grades
- Guided assistance for bookings, upgrades and check-ins
- Offer appropriate promotions and rates
- Integrate special requests and preferences during personalized check-ins
- Do away with the barriers of language
- Available 24/7 in any part of the world
Educators increasingly recognize the need to adapt technology to support personalized training for each student. Constant tips and guidance provided by bots help professors and students alike achieve higher levels of understanding of the material and satisfaction with the educational experience. Bots can help:
- Keep the students engaged by offering relevant assignments on the go
- Monitor performances to generate encouraging conversations
- Generate appropriate test plans to target the weaker points
- Integrate rewards and badges for constant encouragement
Banking and Fintech
Bots help make services available beyond working hours, saving customers visits to financial institutions. Bots provide actionable information to deliver right-time, right-fit offers to customers, keeping in mind changing rates and other fluctuations. The benefits include:
- Always connected for all core and ancillary services
- Fraud handling done promptly and safely
- Cross-sold services like loans and mortgages deciphered logically
- Relaxed and simplified online banking and bill-paying
Bots not only transform how the industries engage with their clients, they are also changing the way the employees perform their tasks by streamlining workflows and automating huge amounts of mundane and repetitive tasks.
Instant visibility across the enterprise is an important feature for personnel at all levels as they adjust their strategies and approaches to the work. Business process automation facilitated by bots puts vital information at the fingertips of employees and managers. Not surprisingly, bots also reduce the overall workload.
An effective bot understands consumer needs and creates a solution that enhances the customer experience. As consumers increasingly look for personalized experiences, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Big Data are providing solutions to meet this need. Bots will become further integrated into IoT platforms, facilitating machine-to-human communication.
Bots are predicted to evolve as integration with AI progresses. However, bots are unlikely to rival the apps ecosystem in popularity, given the fragmentation we currently see with too many players in the industry. For now, much of the talk surrounding bots is hype, but when the hype ultimately evaporates there will be a few major platform players that survive to take the bot revolution forward. Our estimate is that this will happen by 2020 to 2025.
Have any of the recent announcements from Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google and Oracle about new bot services and capabilities gotten your attention? At their current stage of development, do bots seem like a practical way to improve CUX and employee efficiencies in your organization, or does there still seem to be too much hype regarding claims of bots' utility and application to real-world situations? We welcome your perspective on bots, including whether you see them transforming your own industry in the near future.