A World with Chatbots and AI

With recent technological advancements in chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI), neuro-linguistic programming, machine learning, internet of things (IoT) and web speech APIs, it is now possible to streamline interactions between computer and human languages more effectively. Everyday practically we see a Google Home or Alexa add on social media and on television, and this widens our vision about its application. So let’s have a glimpse on it.

A brief about chatbots

A chatbot is a service that people interact with via a chat interface. You can ask questions using your voice or by typing in the same way you would ask a person. The chatbot will usually respond in a conversational style, and it may carry out actions in response to your conversation (for example, order something for you). It often runs inside a popular messaging application, such as Facebook Messenger, Slack, or SMS. It answers your question, rather than directing you to a website.

Can the applications be replaced with Chatbots ?

To the end user, it may appear that systems of Chatbots like Alexa have replaced software applications (apps) when we ask them to book meetings in our calendars and purchase train tickets for us. In reality, they will encapsulate the apps and sit on top of them. While we may see fewer app icons on our smartphones, we will still need apps in the background for fulfilment and as data repositories.

Why should we discuss about chatbots ?

Eventually, the goal of a futuristic chatbot is to be able to interact with users as a human does. As the saying goes, “the best interface is no interface.” Voice chat is trending with the introduction of smart speakers like Amazon Echo, Google Home, Apple HomePod, etc.

How chatbots can help Small/Medium businesses ?

Bots are a glimpse into the future of business, and they have powerful implications on the business ecosystem. They have several advantages:

  1. 24×7 availability – A bot exists digitally unlike a human being, and can thus be pressed into service continuously without any interference.
  2. Highly Customisable – Bots are capable of carrying out a wide array of tasks because of their inherent flexibility.
  3. Affordable and Powerful – In the current scenario, chatbots can be developed for a small amount. Many options already exist, with the most popular being Facebook’s Messenger bot.
  4. Saves Resources – Employing a chatbot to handle basic customer interactions can free up valuable human resources without a decline in productivity.

Types of Chatbots –

  1. One operates based on a set of rules. It can only respond to very specific commands. If you, as the user don’t use the right command or words, the chatbot doesn’t know what you mean.
  2. On the other hand the other type uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to provide the best response. We’ll call these AI-powered chatbots.The AI aspect in a chatbot is based on machine learning. It is known as Natural Language Processing; it has the proficiency to understand a conversation and mimic human speech. An artificial intelligence (AI) agent in a chatbot achieves the goal through the ‘sense-think-act’ cycle.

How Chatbots can Revitalize Customer Engagement for SME’s?

Broadly Chatbots powered with AI can be used for two purposes:

  • For Enterprise – Today’s chatbots are powerful personal assistants. They can call an Cab, place a lunch order, make a hotel reservation, order office supplies when you get low and even help manage your calendar. Let’s face it, just scheduling a single meeting can take 15 minutes or more and when you add up how many meetings you schedule, it’s a significant time commitment for a small business.
  • For Consumers – Chatbots provide better service to users. Mainly in these following ways:
    • Quick Response time – Compared to a human being, a smart computer program will answer queries much quicker. This, coupled with an AI chatbot’s machine learning and multi-tasking abilities make it a highly efficient virtual assistant that can revolutionise customer interaction metrics.
    • Improved Conversions – Chatbots can study past search data and offer more personalised shopping options via retargeting. The AI is constantly learning, and it can pull up multiple options that will be more appealing to the user based on their search history and captured data points. This can lead to increased conversions for you in the long term.

How does Chatbots improve ROI?

Some instance where bots have worked out really well and undoubtedly have cleared the points regarding ROI as they turned out to be a boon in the industry.

  • Chatbots in Finance Industry- Chatbots found their way into the Finance industry as a virtual assistant within Mobile Banking Apps. Bots act as a platform were customers can make the payment of Bills, and transfer and deposit funds. According to a survey done by Abi AI, one of the top most IT firm could save 360,000 hours of manpower by deploying bots which helped them analyse complex legal contracts faster than a human could do.
  • Chatbots in Restaurants and Retail Industry- The idea of introducing chatbots in restaurant and the retail industry proved to be a smart one, as it has been helping famous food chains in reducing the order time of the customers considerably. Bots also help in saving several employees working hours as well, which in turn made them more efficient.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – Can it boost ROI?

Robotic process automation (RPA) is actually the use of software with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) capabilities to handle high-volume, repeatable tasks that previously required humans to perform.

These processes can include queries, calculations and maintenance of records and transactions. Some industry experts believe it may be even more transformational than cloud computing. It is sometimes called a software robot or bot, mimics a human worker, logging into applications, entering data, calculating and completing tasks, and logging out.

Glance at the Benefits of RPA – 

  1. Enabling better customer service for all SME’s by allowing processes to be completed much more rapidly.
  2. Ensuring business operations and processes comply with regulations and standards.
  3. Providing improved efficiency by digitizing and auditing process data.
  4. Creating cost savings for manual and repetitive tasks ultimately benefiting SME’s.
  5. Enabling employees to be more productive.

Applications of RPA –

  1. Customer service Sector: RPA helps SME’s offer better customer service by automating tasks, including verifying e-signatures, uploading scanned documents and verification of information for automatic approvals or rejections.
  2. Accounting Sector: Organizations can use RPA for general or operational accounting, transactional reporting and budgeting.
  3. Financial Sectors: Companies in the financial services industry can use RPA for foreign exchange payments, automating account openings and closings, managing audit requests and processing insurance claims.
  4. Healthcare Sections: Medical sectors also have the use of RPA for handling patient records, customer support, account management, billing, reporting and analytics.
  5. Human resources : RPA today automates HR tasks, including on-boarding and off-boarding, updating employee information and timesheet submission processes etc.
  6. Supply chain management Sector: RPA is used also for procurement, automation of order processing and payments, tracking shipments and monitoring inventory levels.

How can an SME benefit from RPA technology (in general and specifically regarding your business)?

SMEs can use robotic process automation (RPA), or put more simply – software robots – to automate their business processes, for example, back-office functions in HR, finance, procurement, IT or other core processes. By automating time-consuming, repetitive tasks SMEs stand to improve productivity which will help them gain competitive advantage.

Is this game-changing technology all that new?

Any BPM user with a sense of history knows that RPA has been around for a long, long time. For example, inbound call centers have been using Interactive Voice Response Systems (IVRS) for years. These systems employ robots to guide customers, accept key tone or voice-based responses, and pass on instructions to the underlying application to complete a transaction.

Moreover, the industry has always used internet BOTs (short form for Robots) for auto-posting of data. Software Testing industry has used similar type of automation in applications to manage functional, integration, user and more significantly regression testing.

What is different about the latest wave of RPA is the maturity of both technology as well as the business processes?

In our view, this transformation will be driven by a pursuit of five outcomes:

  1. Cost reduction: Software robots are typically at least one third the price of an offshore FTE.
  2. Efficiency: RPA can operate 24X7 without breaks provided the underlying core applications are available.
  3. Accuracy: Human FTEs make data entry mistakes, whereas robots perform the same task the same way every time provided processing transactions.
  4. Improved audit and regulatory compliance: Robots can provide a detailed audit logs enabling advanced business analytics and improved compliance.
  5. Ease of change management: Robots preserve application and data integrity by leveraging the existing application presentation layer and re-using existing application logic, databases and validation without deep understanding and re-engineering.

Feature List Comparison among the trend setters or top RPA Vendors :

  1. Learning : Basic developer approach is followed in Automation Anywhere, Whereas Uipath has Visual design as a learning approach and thirdly BluePrism has its own ability to develop and control.
  2. Re-usuality : Automation Anywhere,Uipath and BluePrism are all highly resuable.
  3. Cognitive Capability :  Automation Anywhere has still a quite better and medium level of Cognitive capability in comparison to UiPath and BluePrism which have quite low feature of this cateogory.
  4. Accuracy : Reasonable accuracy across mediums is there in software of Automation Anywhere , whereas Uipath shines in citrix automation designed for bpo automation and on the other hand in BluePrism desktop, web and citrix automation are available.
  5. Robots : Automation Anywhere and Uipath both offers front office & back-office robots, unfortunately BluePrism offers back office automation only.
  6. Operational Scalability : Large scale robot deployment is limited in case of Automation Anywhere. Limitation of Uipath being it frequently crashes in medium project. BluePrism however has Good features And Execution speed is very high.
  7. Macro Recorders : Automation Anywhere and UiPath both have faster process mapping whereas for BluePrism they say this is due to security constraints but a recorder is just a useful tool that you can choose not to use.
  8. Architecture : Client server architecture is followed both in Automation Anywhere and BluePrism but Uipath follows web based orchestrator.
  9. Access : UiPath control room – The Orchestrator – is web based, you can access it from the browser or mobile. Automation Anywhere and Blue Prism on the other hand have client based servers, accessible only through their apps.
  10. Process Designer : UiPath and BluePrism on one hand have Visual process designer whereas Automation Anywhere has Script based.
  11. Base Technology : Automation Anywhere follows Microsoft Technology whereas Uipath follows Microsoft – sharepoint wf , elasticsearch and BluePrism is based on kibana C#.
  12. Realiability : BluePrism till date is leading with high reliable features though has a tough competition by Automation Anywhere but Uipath lacks in this.
  13. Pricing : On one hand Automation Anywhere has higher cost of deployment,UiPath has Aggressive, attractive entry level pricing but for BluePrsim the high cost of acquisition being a problem in addition to limited training available.
  14. Certification and education : Automation Anywhere has been launched recently with certifications, whereas Uipath has Free online training and certification and BluePrism although have certification program available.

Why is it important to embrace emerging technologies, like RPA, in the era of disruption?

We like to think of us all being part of a huge ‘digital river’ where technology is changing so fast, and changing the way we can operate and do business each and every day, that if we don’t embrace it then we will be swept away.