By: Lindsay Sanchez, CMO at Kore
If you’ve been paying close attention to the tech world in 2016, you’ve probably noticed that bots have been a hot topic of conversation. From the launch of Microsoft’s Bots Framework to the unveiling of bots for Facebook Messenger at this year’s F8 conference, these agile assistants are attracting big buzz from consumers and enterprises alike. But beside the basic use-case scenarios and love-it or leave-it reviews of the first wave of bots, the conversation has stayed fairly basic. I want to push it into a space that makes sense for the enterprise, rather than merely touting the “bots are the next big thing” prophecy, and highlighting “one trick pony” bots that perform simple work tasks like setting up meetings.
Similar to when the mobile app movement started, it’s like the wild west out in the bots world right now. In July, The Verge recognized that there are 11,000 bots built for Facebook Messenger – a massive number in just 3 months. Could too much choice add more unnecessary complexity? How can a conscientious employee know which bots to use, or when to use and not use a bot?
This is why I’d like to focus on a practical way that businesses can let employees reap the productivity gains that bots can deliver – without repeating historical mistakes. An enterprise bot store.
It’s time enterprises lead the movement, instead of following. Aligned with their workforce – from Millennials to Baby Boomers – they can create a simpler way for people to engage with today’s systems.
Here’s why a customized, enterprise bot store strikes the right balance for people, IT and leadership.
1. An enterprise bot store makes access easy and eliminates the “noise” of useless bots, and it’s sticky.
Enterprises can help the workforce cut through ‘bot hype’ by offering immediate access to an enterprise bot store, or curating their own enterprise store that dishes out the high value, corporate approved bots people want to use.
By curating a store, a business determines what bots to offer, which bots varying functional groups can access, and the channels people can use to communicate with those bots. For example, a company might offer a mobile sales rep Salesforce, Concur, Google Calendar, SAP SuccessFactors and personal bots for LinkedIn and news services, while their engineering teams might have access to the Asana, Jira and ZenDesk bots. An IT Service Desk team might have the ServiceNow bots and others.
In the sales scenario, the company might choose to make the Salesforce bot only available via the company’s secure messaging tool due to sensitive customer information, while a LinkedIn or news bot could be available via Facebook Messenger, SMS, Slack and other channels. The flexibility is there to suit multiple scenarios.
And that stickiness point? Once the workforce knows an enterprise bot store is the prime destination to immediately use the bots they actually need, they’ll come back. It’s a simple process – see a bot you need, install it, ask it to perform a task, and you’re off. No training or IT request required.
2. Without a bot store, employees are left to seek out the bots they need on their own, and they will be disparate, different and unable to have one bot “talk” to another bot.
With an enterprise bot store, a business can design, test and deploy their bots prior to making them available, ensuring a consistent employee experience with all bots – pre-built bots, the ones customized to their business processes, and the ones they build from scratch. Businesses also can allow bots to exchange information with each other, reducing manual data rekeying for people.
Here’s an example. A sales rep submits an urgent case on behalf of their customer via their Salesforce bot. This action triggers the Salesforce bot to notify the customer support team, who can then instantly create an incident report through their ServiceNow. The best part? The customer service rep doesn’t re-enter the case data – it’s simply carried from one bot to the other.
3. An enterprise bot store can evolve, and your users decide how.
Your bot store and the bots that you choose to reside within it can be in a constant state of becoming. Why? Since bots literally converse and capture the natural progression of a dialogue between a person and a system, you can learn from their successes and shortcomings – if you have the analytics and reporting behind the bots. Users continuously test a bot’s functionality, personality, and utility, which, as an enterprise administrator, gives you instant feedback into how IT can address user needs or concerns. This essentially eliminates that painful and costly guessing game IT tends to play anticipating what the workforce needs, and instead replaces it with a system where users tell them exactly which bots are useful and which aren’t, and where they need to add tasks and functionality to the bots they love. The communication between systems, users, and IT improves. And, so does productivity, efficiency, and satisfaction.
4. An enterprise bot store gives the enterprise security and oversight.
Security is always one of the big questions that comes up when I talk to folks about the widespread use of bots, and with good reason. By offering the workforce bots through an enterprise bot store, administrators can control more action and keep more data safe. First off, any platform you choose should be encrypted for all messaging between bots and users, have enterprise-grade controls, and allow for regulatory compliance. When it comes to bot access, function, and monitoring, you can control a lot at the administrative level, too. You choose which channels your bots can live in (email, web, mobile apps, SMS, messaging apps, collaboration software), who has access to your bot store, and which bots they can use. You can monitor the analytics and insights related to your bot store to ensure granular corporate oversight. Also, since each user is self-authenticating when they use a bot, data can be better contained. It may sound like a complicated, but when you compare it to thousands of employees potentially using hundreds of different bots on different channels, all without company oversight, it’s a no brainer.