Chatbots — new business tools

The first chatbot was created in 1966 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Professor Joseph Weizenbaum’s program searched for keywords in user input and prepared responses according to the defined rules. Since that time chatbots have learnt to manage files, work with calendars, and much more. Companies use these solutions to automate business processes and improve client experience. The analysts of the Gartner company forecast that by 2022, about 70 percent of white-collar workers will interact with bots on a daily basis. Let's see which solutions are present and why the interest in chatbots is increasing. 

Chatbots — new business tools

What is a chatbot and how does it work? 

A chatbot is the AI-based product that is designed to communicate with people. It is a conductor between users and computers that simplifies their interaction. The chatbot’s functionality is based on two core processes: user input analysis and response preparation. The bot analyses a request, identifies a user intention, and detects entities. Thus, the sentence “How to reset my MS Outlook password?” lets the bot understand that the employee’s intention is to find out how to reset the password, while the entity is represented by a specific email client. Then the chatbot builds the reply and sends it back to the user. The reply can contain text, links to knowledge bases, or the data from the company’s internal systems. The user gets information required to solve the current task.

Where are they applied?

Simple bots are able to identify keywords. Retail networks use such tools to enhance the user experience. For instance, the bot filters goods and helps to save time on finding desired items. But there are way more complex solutions that are capable of learning. Such programs are integrated into task monitoring systems, so they work with files, add events to calendars, and so on. 

The students of the Australian University of Deakin have a virtual assistant, Genie. This platform is based on four technologies: chatbot, AI, voice recognition, and predictive analytics. Genie tracks the student’s current tasks and helps to maintain the educational content. If a student spends too much time on learning, Genie recommends to make a pause and get some fresh air. 

Chatbots are useful in different fields of work, from retailing to banking. Here is the simplest classification:

  1. The online stores’ bots display the goods in stock and help to find items.
  2. Technical support bots collect the essential data about the user’s problems and forward him to the right engineer.
  3. Virtual assistants are more complex solutions with integration into mailing, search, and other services. Such assistants help users with daily routine by booking tickets or setting up the alarm.

Why do they attract such interest? 

Due to the AI bots can deal with tasks that previously only humans could fulfill. New solutions allow to improve the interaction between clients and services, which means chatbots simplify tasks and enhance the overall customer assistance. Sometimes users can hardly guess that they are chatting with a program — the AI carries on a conversation quite naturally. The bot has access to databases, so it finds answers in a quick way. Thus, the management not only improves the services, but saves resources. For example, the technical support bot will probably fail to puzzle out a tricky particular case, but it will definitely obtain the basic information about a problem. Then it will forward a client to an engineer — and this is a functionality of the first level technical support employee. Moreover, the bot is able to carry on several dialogs simultaneously, so nobody has to wait for an available operator.

At the beginning of the 20th century the industrial world witnessed the revolution the conveyor made. A hundred years later, new tools are being designed by means of digital technologies. Will the AI-equipped chatbots completely change the idea of a modern workspace? The business analysts suppose it is possible. The growing popularity of chatbots and impressive investments in the AI technologies prove that possibility as well. We will find out whether it actually happens in the upcoming years.