Continuing the topic started in my previous article, this week I would like to show how these little lightweight programs called chatbots are taking their own place within organizations, doing no less than increasing employees productivity and streamlining business processes.
From the “Simple” Consumer Space to the Enterprise
Currently, chatbots are very popular in the consumer space. From the business perspective, eCommerce, delivery, and transportation businesses boost their business opportunities by letting their end customers order services and goods even more conveniently.
But if you look very closely, you will see that bots are slowly taking over the enterprise space as well, and I’m not talking about company employees using third-party bots via enterprise messaging apps like Slack. I’m talking about enterprise companies building their own corporate chatbot to add value to their product, create a better interaction experience for their B2B customers and improve own business processes.
With a proper integration middleware—for example a hybrid integration platform as-a-service (iPaaS) like the one offered by elastic.io, Snaplogic, or Mulesoft—custom chatbots can be integrated into company’s own chat application, connecting and gathering information from enterprise applications like CRM, Support Ticket Systems or even ERP through APIs.
Such bot-related integrations in the enterprise space can serve many business-critical scenarios from customer support to sales. For example, an enterprise bot is perfect for creating a 360° view of the customer. Usually, you would do this by gathering information from different applications/sources. Even if you have all of them integrated into your, say, CRM system, you would still have to do some heavy clicking and switching between tabs and windows before you collect everything you need. However, if you have a corporate bot that is integrated with all related applications, databases, and systems, all you need to do is just type in a few commands, and you’ll get all the information at your fingertips, immediately and in one place. This comes in even more handy if you need to share this information with your colleagues which is usually the case – you just do this right where you are, in your corporate chat room.
Or a corporate chatbot can be added to one’s own, say, telecommunication product portfolio in B2B scenario to allow your customers do a quicker troubleshooting or analysis for your product. Or it can become your own personal assistant answering calls for you and taking messages in case you’re in a meeting or on the phone with someone else. The range of implementation scenarios of chatbots in the enterprise context is practically unlimited, with them helping drive sales, streamlining internal business processes and improving data exchange across departments and even organizations. All this without leaving one little chat.
A Perfect Fit for the Modern Business World
The advantage of this way of data delivery can be hardly overlooked. It makes accessing information from your corporate applications while being in the chat conversation with your colleagues or customers much easier and faster, without switching between applications.
The advantage is even more evident in the mobile context: people have been talking about the importance of mobile devices in business for years by now. Surely, many software vendors answered the need for mobility by providing mobile applications for their products, so that they can be accessed literally anywhere and not only at your own desk. But imagine how even easier and more productive the information exchange can become if you can access data without going back and forth between mobile apps.
So, for the modern business world, in which it is all about speed, results, and efficiency, little corporate chatbots are just what the doctor ordered.
Besides, chatbots are an ideal solution to another issue – app installations. If you have a chatbot well-integrated with dozens of other services, you don’t need dozens other apps on your mobile or tablet. In fact, Salesforce and Dropbox have figured this out pretty quickly and already launched their own bot services on Messenger.
The Right Technology for Chatbot-Driven IT Projects
What’s critically important in such scenarios, though, is the right choice of the integration middleware. Building a chatbot is no rocket science, there are already plenty of tools on the market that allow you to do that with minimum hard-core programming input from you. But in order to connect this bot with your corporate applications and truly profit from this integration, you need a middleware that:
- Handles API integration as it is the standard way of integrating a corporate chatbot with applications
- Has extremely high performance with lowest possible latency for fast processing of requests and responses
- Is hybrid, which means it can integrate not only cloud-based, but also on-premise applications and systems
- Makes it possible to aggregate several other APIs under one single API, publish it and monitor its usage closely
- Is suitable for so-called citizen integrators, or in other words non-technical employees, so that they can integrate software applications they need in a corporate chatbot on their own.