How chatbots can revolutionise the B2B industry: Practical use cases

By: Claire

23, February, 2017

Categories:

Artificial Intelligence - Chatbots - Consumer - Deep Learning -

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Barely a day goes by without hearing about a new use for artificial intelligence (AI). Programmes such as IBM’s Watson have revolutionised what was once thought of as a far-fetched, sci-fi futuristic technology, bringing the power of AI into business’ hands.

Chatbots are one such benefit to come from the advent of more accessible AI. And while they are becoming increasingly popular on platforms such as Facebook Messenger – with the White House even joining in on the party of 18,000 chatbots – there has yet to be mass adoption of the tech within the business and enterprise space.

B2C or C2B are the most common uses for chatbots at the moment, from being used as a basic customer enquiry tool and even by some to appeal parking tickets.

But there is a gap in the market; something many businesses are not picking up on when it comes to the use of chatbots alongside enterprise apps and software: the B2B use for the tech. According to CIO, chatbots are going to be “one of the most relevant enterprise software trends in the next decade”. So what are the uses for chatbots within a B2B and enterprise environment, and how can you get ahead of the trend?

Internal communications

One of the best and most obvious uses for chatbots within a business environment is internal communications.

Many businesses are still very email heavy – and even if you are advanced enough to have Slack and Skype groups to facilitate internal instant messaging between teams, there’s still a physical person giving their time to answer queries on the other end.

Often, many communications and questions will be about scenarios and problems that a bot could answer. Take HR, for example. Many HR professionals spend a lot of time answering questions about holiday, expenses, entitlements and more.

But what if these could all be answered by an intelligent, personality-driven chatbot? The department would then be freed up to tackle work that’s more beneficial to the company’s bottom line, rather than fulfilling basic admin tasks. The same is true of department such as IT support, finance and legal.

With most of your employees more than likely using some form of messaging app already, it also won’t be a hassle to train them to adopt this new tech.

MyOxygen’s Eve platform is one example of how chatbots can fit natively into an organisation. We work with companies to build their first iteration of personality-driven bot, which builds on familiar and existing platforms such as iOS and Android. It’s quite customisable, so you can inject the brand’s ethos and personality into it with ease – meaning quicker adoption from employees and customers.

Decision making within departments

But answering employees’ queries isn’t the sole use of chatbots within a business environment.

Collaboration between teams can also be facilitated by using bots to combining people’s knowledge with a system’s data to present a ‘human answer’ for those using the bot.

This means various members of the team don’t have to go hunting through the multitude of data based systems in an organisation to pull out the information they need for a project; it’s right there, providing contextual insight.

This would be especially useful in departments such as marketing, where quite often there will be several different systems marketers need to log onto and out of in order to get the information they need. Another use would be within an engineering company, where bid managers will commonly consult a wide variety of sources before writing their bids; a time consuming and often tedious exercise.

Practical business uses

It’s true that not all chatbots are consumer facing. From being used behind the scenes to improve cyber security, to managing work environments, like Built.io did, there a multitude of ways to implement a bot.

For example, chatbots will be integrated into the workflow of employees as personal assistants, giving users access with a couple of clicks to customer records, updates on transactions or integrations into platforms like Salesforce, Dropbox and other Corporate CRM systems.

Imagine filing an expense report, asking for your latest train ticket, access a profile of the person you are meeting. The future of AI will become so smart, it will become your work assistant; a reliable access to all your data a conduit of information delivering only relevant data when you need it.

Some examples include lawyers using ‘lawbots’ to access thousands of legal documents in an instant, right from their mobile device, as well as recruitment companies allowing candidates access to chatbots to help them in seeking a new position.

Mobile apps have long since offered to simplify business processes. For example, streamlining an employee’s annual leave request so it only presents them with questions relevant to their situation. This may mean, to illustrate, not asking a female employee questions about paternity leave, for instance.

The big leap forward with bots is the advent of readily available natural language processing. Bots now understand implied meanings and can extract data from phrases such as: “I feel sick this morning”.

Natural language processing can understand this as meaning ‘The employee may want to take some leave’ as well as the type (sick leave) and time (today) of the leave. Combined with other information saved in the app or found from earlier conversation, this can make complicated requests just three or four lines of conversation.

With chatbots becoming more intelligent, more personalised and adopted in greater frequencies by consumers and indeed businesses, the benefits for using the tech to streamline both how you do business and communicate internally are paramount. Soon there will be a bot for pretty much everything you can think of – so get ahead of the curve and start researching how you can implement one first.