Chatbots for Business – Have you used one?

Chatbots are creating quite a buzz these days and can be found on websites and in apps across all industries. So, what exactly is a Chatbot? A Chatbot is a program which allows users to communicate with a computer or an application as if they are conversing with another person. Chatbots do this by combining Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Natural Language Processing (NLP) to process simple requests and respond accordingly.

A great example of a chatbot in action is the Skype Bot. Whenever a user logs into Skype, Microsoft gives an option to interact with the Skype Bot. Based on the user’s interactions, Skype Bot pops up things of their interest like games, curated news, music, and much more.

Chatbots – Making inroads into every industry

The adoption of Chatbots is working its way into every industry for the significant benefits they offer.

  • Customer care 24/7
  • Personalized customer experience
  • Reduction in costs by automating repetitive tasks and with less staff
  • Quick response and resolution to customers’ requests
  • Improve customer satisfaction and loyalty
“Twenty-five percent of customer service and support operations will integrate virtual customer assistant (VCA) or chatbot technology across engagement channels by 2020, up from less than two percent in 2017.” - Gartner, Inc. Click To Tweet

Possible applications of Chatbot technology are limitless. Businesses across all sectors are investing in chatbot technology. A few examples are:

In the retail sector: In order to offer an enhanced customer experience, Nordstrom, a retail fashion store, launched its first-ever Chatbot during the 2016 holiday gift-giving season.

How does the Nordstrom bot work? The user is asked basic, but leading questions. For example, if a user is shopping for a gift, few questions like – buying for whom, for what age, etc. – are asked; and based on the replies, the bot will come up with gift ideas. It makes user’s shopping experience personalized and successful without the need for human interaction.

In the field of Medicine:  A Russian technology company launched an Alzheimer’s Disease Chatbot project. The goal of this project is to create an open source Chatbot companion for senior and Alzheimer’s patients to help them feel less lonely.

The Chatbot poses specific questions to the people who have Alzheimer’s or dementia. It reacts to the replies and speaks on various interesting topics in response. Interactions of the patients are examined and passed on to medical professionals to help diagnose the severity of the disease.

In the food/cooking industry: ‘Heston bot’ is created by Heston Blumenthal – a chef whose restaurants have been awarded Michelin stars. This bot uses the similar principles of speech/text recognition and suggests recipes the customers may like.

“Chatbots will be responsible for cost savings of over $8 billion annually by 2022, up from $20 million in 2017.” - Juniper Research Click To Tweet

Chatbots Vs. Virtual Assistants

Don’t confuse virtual assistants with Chatbots! Though both are supported by AI & machine learning, and growing at a fast pace, they are very different from each other in terms of their functionalities and the purposes they serve. Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and the Google Assistant are not Chatbots, but Virtual Assistants. While Chatbots are useful for specific purposes like customer support, automated shopping, and customer engagement, the scope of Virtual Assistants is much broader. They allow more sophisticated applications for business.

Although Chatbots and Virtual Assistants have different purposes, it’s important to know that most Chatbots can be accessed via Virtual Assistants, messaging apps, or individual apps and websites of organizations.

Role of Chatbots in Application Development and DevOps Implementation

Harnessing the power of Chatbots in application development and software projects will let enterprises increase the speed at which they bring value to their customers. In certain situations, a business may benefit more by leveraging a chatbot than by spending time and effort in building an app. A readymade platform can be utilized to develop a chatbot rather than focusing on coding for UI/UX, graphics, front-end/back-end systems as in the development of an application. Also, once a chatbot is developed, it is easy-to-use and does not require loading or installation. Additionally, it can be used across operating systems without porting. The latest chatbots can also merge different areas of customer interaction – like search, filter, contact, etc.

So, how will Chatbot technology be used in the world of DevOps? Chatbots may just be the next big advancement needed to allow for effective real-time collaboration and communication between development and operations. Users will be able to monitor performance, orchestrate workflows, and receive a predictive & prescriptive analysis of monitoring data; all using natural language commands. The use of Chatbots can have a positive impact on app development, ultimately reducing development time and costs significantly. Imagine how easy development will be when DevOps tools integrate with Virtual Assistants… “Google, build and test the latest branch…”!

 

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