Most businesses have moved to cloud office apps, online accounting and collaboration tools, and run enterprises apps but what functions or roles could be handled be chatbots, today and tomorrow? Young businesses need to save all the money they can, to focus on key staff, products and production and vital overheads. Fortunately, today is probably the best time for a company to launch with so much IT power, services and facilities at their fingertips at almost negligible cost. 

Consider barely 10 years the costly outlay on an office. The price of new PC or Mac hardware and investment in office networking, costly business broadband and much more. Add in software like Microsoft Windows and MS Office applications for all office workers and getting started was a huge obstacle for some.

Now, all that can be replaced by Google Docs or Office 365, low-cost notebooks and a set of WiFi routers. Even the office market is full of low-cost startup shared spaces or co-working environments to help companies get going. Going further, businesses can work globally and remotely using collaboration apps for free.

Where Next For Office Robotics?

But all of that was a logical transition to the cloud, mobile, the sharing and open source era. The next generation of services is more focused on particular tasks or roles, helping a business automate a process or take the drudgery out of some tasks.

Chatbots are really just a part of the latest change in business scenery. For example, they can triage all of a company’s incoming online messages, sending appropriate ones to receptionists, support and so on. Dedicated customer support bots can store a businesses’ knowledge base and learn from new users’ questions through AI and training to become a better bot.

Bot use varies widely by industry. Hotels can use bots to manage a range of customer interactions, while banks and insurers are already keen users. Any enterprise can use bots in-house to provide human resources tools and other benefits, all helping the business be more efficient, and freeing up workers for key tasks.

As with office and mobile business apps, none of this is rocket science, any company can develop its own chatbot for free or at low-cost, with cloud service and analytics helping free up the tasks, so it is not just your IT guy doing all the work. Instead, creatives can get working on marketing bots, customer support experts can build the best help bot, all using best-in-class design and template tools from the likes of SnatchBot.

Jobs For The Machines?

There’s a lot of concern about chatbots and AI replacing people in the workplace, but the predominant move is to pass on the repetitive, remedial or boring tasks on to the bots, allowing the people to do their jobs better. This enables them to do more work and enjoy the role more, getting their teeth into the serious tasks of the day, or the future strategy of their efforts.

For example, at this year’s MIT Sloan CIO Summit, AI experts considered how workers will be impacted by AI. Their research shows bots are far from perfect, while ideal for smaller tasks. Yes, some jobs will be lost, but a modern business will see more from traditional turnover than it would from these changes. Legacy types of businesses with lots of rote-work still done by human hand will be affected more, but these will move on to providing new services.

Next-generation chatbots will self-learn faster than the trained versions of today. They will be allowed access to more of our personal data, as social media sites are currently, enabling more personal conversations and useful services.

There will be the usual pushback and negative-sentiment about the changes, but handled correctly most businesses will strike the right balance between utility and privacy. At some point, there will be a major faux pas, a chatbot related hack, or people being conned by fraudster chatbots pretending to be from a bank.

Those stories, while good media fodder,  will be blips on the road to more useful chatbots and better services from all types of business. Any company without a chatbot today needs to look at where the current models can benefit the business, both inside and outside the office, and how they will become essential in the near future.