The Rise of Software Bots and Hosted Communications
What are Software Bots?
A bot is software that automates tasks you might do on your own manually, such as adding an appointment to your calendar, making a dinner reservation, or for simulating conversation. The last bot example describes call or chat bots – software that resides in calling or messaging apps and resembles human conversation and interaction. For instance, some fast food restaurants allow customers to order and pay for their meals through automated chat conversations. Other automated scheduler bots can take over the process of scheduling a meeting, complete with sending emails, notifications, and adding appointments into user’s calendars.
How do Software Bots Work?
A common implementation of bot usage occurs with hosted communications and cloud unified communications (UC). Software bots often assist with enterprise customer service. They are built into solutions, like contact center software, to boost rep productivity and enhance the customer’s experience. Bots quickly provide contact center reps with detailed contact record information, using intelligent, skills-based call-routing, call flow, queue editing and dynamic agent scripting. Bots also help automate the connection process, assist with maintaining required PCI compliant recordings, and increase efficiency through workforce management solutions. Cloud UC solutions, like those from West, use bots to intelligently transfer desk phone calls to a mobile device, seamlessly and effortlessly.
Whether used to drive sales, offer client support, or conduct surveys, etc., bots help to formulate and improve features like advanced predictive dialers, proactive system monitoring and the capabilities provided by multi-channel communications. In fact, another common area for bot usage has been in the arena of social media. Social media tools such as Twitter use computer-generated algorithms to exhibit human-like behavior, such as automatically producing content and interacting with humans on social media (CACM). Bots are used as marketing tools on web sites, populating side ads and popups for recently visited sites, seeking to drive site activity and sales for companies. Bots can also be used in cloud UC tools like Cisco Jabber, through Presence and instant messaging (IM), to determine user availability, initial user contact dialogs and intelligent response. And when this type of technology is integrated with other UC tools, it works to enhance customer service, tailoring it specifically for each customer interaction.
The Future of Bots in Communcations Software
Bot technology has been rapidly advancing over the last few years. Software bots are automating a great number of tasks across the web as well as in daily life. Soon bot programs may be doing our taxes! The popularity of Amazon Echo products and Google Home this year has shown how far bot technology has come, advancing Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities. Amazon Echo’s Alexa enables users to ask questions and do basic tasks such as making a grocery list, reading and writing emails, etc. Since both Amazon and Google have allowed 3rd party developers access to the device technology, the knowledge and capabilities of bots is steadily evolving, adding smart home capabilities/Internet of Things (IOT) such as turning on lights or closing the garage door. It’s not too hard to imagine that bots could control household appliances and provide guidance in an emergency, placing a call for an ambulance in the event that urgent medical care is required.
Besides the number of potential use cases for the growth of bot usage, the technology that powers bots - AI software - is improving in leaps and bounds, thanks to a rise in interest from industry powers like Facebook and Google. (ReCode)These advancements in AI enable computers to process language and converse with humans in a greater number of ways. Bot-makers see the potential in messaging apps, seeking to adapt them, and others like them, for corporate use.
While bot development and usage will continue to rise, they won’t replace apps in their entirety. Rather, they will continue to be used to help automate various mundane tasks, saving humans time and effort. Bot programs may eventually garner compensation for helping users to shop, making restaurant recommendations, booking hotel rooms and pulling up sports statistics, etc. But for now, they will continue to be actively used in unified communications tools, contact center applications, customer interactions and consumer markets, to help automate various tasks, provide users with quicker access to information, help improve efficiencies and to optimize the customer experience. While you may already be saying “good morning” and “good-night” to Alexa at home each day - with your own personal bot-enhanced interactions - see what bots can do for your enterprise.