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Bots In The Modern Workplace

The bot technology is still at a nascent stage and it is hard to predict the final course that the technology will take.

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There is a growing curiosity around how the bots landscape will pan out and the corresponding impact on the modern digital workplace. After all, major technology firms including Facebook and Microsoft have hedged their bets on the success of bots. In a recent event, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella went so far as to say that the future belonged to the bots.

For the uninitiated, bots are essentially software programs written for a specific purpose and are capable of carrying on conversations with humans on a chat platform. Bots have been around for quite some time, but it is only recently that they have caught the eye of the common public. Most of the attention so far has been on the consumer focused applications of bots such as e-commerce and customer service. However, bots are expected to play a significant role within workplaces as well.

Just like in the consumer space, bots at work will also interact via a messaging platform. These bots can be used to carry out a variety of tasks, right from mundane and routine to the infrequent ones.

Some of the areas where we might see Bots in the near future include:

* Expense Management & Reimbursement workflow: Employees can track expenses, submit bills and view status through bot

* Calendar bot: Bot can help schedule a meeting after checking every participant's calendar

* Reward and recognition: Recognize and appreciate a colleague's remarkable work via bot. Also track the leader board by simply asking the bot

* Cafeteria bot: Order food, keep track of pending orders and your cafeteria bills via bot

* Yoga bot: A stress reliever bot to keep everyone on your team healthy and active. Energize your team with some quick guided yoga poses

* Analytics bot: Reduces the pain of switching multiple applications. Get information like number of visitors to a website, monthly signups, among others via analytics bot

* Social mentions bot: This bot will notify you regarding your brand mentions on various social media platforms

* News bot: Bot can flash latest news highlights either in your sector of interest or covering overall top stories

While bots can be used for automating such routine tasks, artificial intelligence is an area where they are coming into their own, for doing tasks that require a hint of intelligence in performing them. In fact, bots are now able to understand and respond to natural human language. Bots can now not just perform tasks on our behalf, but can also understand our words and communicate back. The edge that these bots have is their capacity to understand, execute, and respond to commands in simple, natural language.

The role of artificially intelligent bots is perhaps best captured in the case of Ross, the bot "lawyer" that was hired by BakerHostetler, one of America's largest law firms to assist with bankruptcy cases, forever changing the courtroom paradigm, or at the very least shifting it significantly. While most of us may be surprised by these developments, the fact is that the wheel has come full circle, and what was once the stuff of science fiction is now solidly part of our current reality.

Naturally, considering the wide range of applications of bots, one question that crops up is whether chat bots will end up replacing apps in the enterprise communication space? There are supporting arguments on both sides, though based on current evidence, which seems unlikely. Bots and apps have vastly different uses and will continue to coexist for a long time, largely complementing one another.

The To-do bot helps teams with assigning and tracking key tasks, without the user having to switch over to another application. Poll bots, on the other hand, are useful for identifying popular choices in a relatively short duration. Topics that might otherwise take lengthy discussions can now be addressed relatively easily with the use of Poll bots.

In conclusion, the bot technology is still at a nascent stage and it is hard to predict the final course that the technology will take. However with the overlap of Artificial Intelligence, Natural Language Processing and Bots Platform, we are sure to see an evolution in bots and their capabilities, making life much easier for the average enterprise worker.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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bots Flock gadgets & gizmos workplaces

Ninad Raval

The author is Director of Product & Design for Flock- an enterprise messaging and collaboration app. He joined Directi in the year 2004, and in the last 12 year he was part of several businesses under the Directi Group to design simple multi-screen, data-driven products with a focus on bridging user goals and business objectives.

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