We hear the word disruptive a lot with regard to successful and aspiring technologies: game-changing tech; tech that shifts the status quo and displaces previous tech. But what is really disruptive tech these days? Most of us probably feel like we haven’t seen any earth-shattering innovations for a while, but rather incremental progressions that were no surprise at all.
There is arguably a disruptive technology on the horizon however.
What are bots?
If you ask Google, ‘What are bots?’ you will get two definitions: 1) the larva of the botfly, which is an internal parasite of horses, and 2) a person who persistently borrows or cadges from others. Luckily for us, the bots that are about to take over the world, are neither of the above.
A bot is software that is designed to automate the kinds of tasks you would usually do on your own, like making a dinner reservation, adding an appointment to your diary or finding a particular product. And they do it through conversation (chat converation on chat apps to be specific), that should feel like you are conversing with a real human.
What can bots actually do?
Many bots are being created to handle customer service requests. In the states, fast food chains such as Taco Bell and Dominos have bots you can currently use to order and pay.
Other bots like X.ai can help schedule your meetings for you. Simply add the bot to your email thread, and it will take over back-and-forth conversation needed to schedule a meeting and then alert you once it has been arranged. There are bots in Slack, the business-focused messaging service, many of which aim to help with work-related tasks like expenses or to-do lists. There are bots for sending people Vine videos and a bot for getting makeup suggestions from Sephora. Twitter has a bot that tweets about earthquakes as soon as they’re registered.
But as bot technology improves, it is thought that bots will be able to automate all kinds of things... book flights and travel for example, organise parties, or potentially even do your taxes.
The question we find ourselves asking, is not whether chat conversation is a more natural way to get things done than an app, but whether the technology will advance to the point where we can trust bots with relatively important tasks—such as booking an expensive holiday, or registering to vote, or paying council tax. There is always an error of margin, even with the most sophisticated AI advancements.
Need we say more?
But when it comes to the business environment, we feel unified communications platforms will certainly be enhanced by the rise of the bot. Business chat platforms and integrated business phone systems, will become even more useful for customer service and operations teams, with bots doing more mundane tasks. Entering data, updating lists and completing forms are just some of the things that bots will be able to safely help with. Bots will also be able to help test innovative ideas and new products, providing a quick analysis and survey of the competitive market. The sky really is the limit.
For now though, we shall just focus on the present, and count our lucky stars that the pending disruptiveness of the bot has nothing to do with the larva of the botfly.
Leave your comments below and let us know what you think about bots.
VTSL is an established hosted communications company and telecoms carrier specialising in VoIP business phone systems. Helping businesses to use converged communications technology with ease, VTSL's intuitive platforms and integrations mean employees make the most out of unified comms. For more information, get in touch today at email@example.com.