Blue Prism Software Which Makes Bots Productive Will Now Run in the Cloud

The tech world is besotted with bots. This technology, also known as chatbots, provides automated but theoretically human-like responses to a user request. If you’ve clicked on a customer service button on your bank’s site, you’ve dealt with a bot. Businesses see bots as a great way to help people buy products or receive support on products they’ve already bought.

But the bots themselves typically act as the front door to a world of processes happening behind the scenes. If you ask a bot for help, your request kicks off activities to get the job done.

“We sit between the chat bots at the front end and the infrastructure and business processes on the back end. We view ourselves as the operating system for this digital workforce,” Blue Prism chief executive Alistair Bathgate told Fortune.

On Wednesday, the company is announcing a new version of its software that will run on public clouds like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and GoogleCloud Platform. Blue Prism’s software until now has typically run on customers’ own servers.

“If you call your bank to report a lost or stolen credit card, that starts as a five minute conversation followed by 25 minutes of administrative processes, where someone has to cancel the card, add a new card, initiate anti-fraud procedures. We automate that 25-minute piece,” he s said

By opening up its technology to run on massive public cloud data centers, Blue Prism can also take advantage of all the artificial intelligence and other services those clouds offer, Bathgate said.

In this arena, which techies call robotic process automation or RPA, Blue Prism competes with companies like UIPath and Automation Anywhere. The big cloud providers, which are pouring billions into AI and other services, could enter the fray on their own as well.

Source: Fortune-Blue Prism Software Which Makes Bots Productive Will Now Run in the Cloud

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Will automation take away all our jobs?

Here’s a paradox you don’t hear much about: despite a century of creating machines to do our work for us, the proportion of adults in the US with a job has consistently gone up for the past 125 years. Why hasn’t human labor become redundant and our skills obsolete? In this talk about the future of work, economist David Autor addresses the question of why there are still so many jobs and comes up with a surprising, hopeful answer.

Source: TED-Will automation take away all our jobs?

How Artificial Intelligence Will Change Everything

Artificial intelligence is not one technology but rather a group of related technologies – including natural language processing, machine learning (computer programs that can “learn” when exposed to new data) and expert systems (software programmed to provide advice) – that help machines sense, comprehend, and act in ways similar to the human brain.

These technologies are behind innovations such as virtual agents (computer-generated, animated characters serving as online customer service representatives), identity analytics (solutions combining big data and advanced analytics to help manage user access and certification), and recommendation systems (algorithms helping match users and providers of goods and services) which have already transformed the ways in which companies look at the overall customer experience.

 

Artificial intelligence can help banks’ finance teams reimagine and restructure operating models and processes. Large banks must process huge volumes of data to generate financial reports and satisfy regulatory and compliance requirements. These processes are increasingly standardized and formulaic but still involve large numbers of people performing low-value-added tasks (often in reconciliation and consolidation). This makes them ideal candidates for robotic process automation (RPA). The software “bots” used in RPA can be coded to deal with rules and some exceptions, but it’s the added layer of machine learning across the more complex challenges and frequently changing tasks that make the combination of RPA and AI particularly powerful.

Over the next few years, AI will be used to transform the most central functions in finance such as intercompany reconciliations and the quarterly “close” and reporting of earnings, in addition to engaging in more strategic functions such as financial analysis, asset allocation, and forecasting. AI provides speed and accuracy – the entire reporting and disclosure process, for example, can be undertaken in real (or nearly real) time. Rather than waiting until the end of the quarter, the finance team empowered by AI can identify issues and make adjustments much sooner than is possible today, increasing accuracy and eliminating period end efforts.

Financial institutions are well aware of the potential of AI. They have observed massive disruption in other industries, as digital startups and internet giants use AI to streamline operations and entice customers with more personal, relevant offerings and experiences developed upon new, technologically-enabled platforms. As a result, banks are investing heavily into new technologies and into recruiting and developing the talent needed to implement and work effectively with AI solutions.

Artificial intelligence provides banks, capital markets firms and insurers with an enormously powerful set of tools to transform and streamline some of their most fundamental financial processes. The challenge for many, however, is not only to identify and adopt the best AI technologies, but to also reshape and rethink their operating model and talent development to take advantage of AI’s transformative capabilities.

Artificial intelligence can help banks dramatically improve operational efficiency and gain a much clearer understanding of where they are going, but it is still up to humans to make the big strategic decisions and set the course for AI and related technologies to help deliver profitable growth.

AI and machine learning can also help automate other investment categories, a growing trend in the past year. A recent published report by PwC noted that “some financial institutions have been investing in AI for years, while other firms are now beginning to catch up thanks to advances in big data, open-source software, cloud computing, and faster processing speeds.” Arthena is utilizing not only similar technological advancement but also acceptance of AI in investing to create the first automated art market investment platform, capable of returning over 15% y0y by generating calculated investment opportunities.

Source: huffingtonpost.com-How Artificial Intelligence Will Change Everything

Robotic software sweeping large accounting firms and clients

Marna Ricker has her own personal robot.

While it doesn’t shoot lasers or clean her Minneapolis office Roomba-style, her “bot” can do some of her digital data dirty work so she doesn’t have to.

“I don’t want to sit at my computer and do process type of work,” said Ricker, the central region tax managing partner at Ernst & Young.

Accounting firms locally and nationally have recently employed the virtual bots in their own offices, as well as advised clients to use them as a faster, cheaper and often more accurate option to complete repetitive tasks.

Robotic process automation (RPA) is the use of a software robot or “bot” that replicates the actions of a human to execute tasks across multiple computer systems. According to professional services organization Deloitte, a minute of work for a robot is equal to about 15 minutes of work for a human.

For example, a bot could scan an invoice in a PDF ­document attached to an e-mail, save the data into an Excel spreadsheet, log into a web system and enter the data to generate a report, all before e-mailing an employee to say the work is done.

Robotics is predicted to automate or eliminate up to 40 percent of transactional accounting work by 2020, a 2015 Accenture report found.

Bill Cline, the national advisory leader for digital labor at global audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG LLP, said robotics is the biggest inflection point of the industry since global sourcing.

“I think a lot of people know that physical robots are being used in factories, or even that AI [artificial intelligence] is being used in medical diagnoses, but I don’t think many people understand how extensively software bots are being used to automate previously manual business processes and functions,” he said.

Ernst & Young has built in the last 18 months an army of about 200 bots in the firm’s tax practice operations that has resulted in saving ­several hundred thousand hours of process time annually. The firm, which also offers assurance, transaction and advisory services, uses bots for its own core business functions, including finance and performance management.

The bots can have accuracy rates as high as 99 percent and can reduce operating costs by 25 to 40 percent or more, Ricker said.

“They work 24/7. They are happy. They don’t take vacation,” Ricker said.

Bots can allow humans to focus on higher level tasks, she said. Ernst & Young is in its second full year of training staff on RPA. Over the last year, the firm also has started to help their clients use RPA in areas such as finance, procurement and human resources.

Eventually robotic software will be as freely used in accounting as Excel, Ricker said.

Besides time and cost savings, RPA and other types of automation could have several other benefits.

Intelligent automation can provide greater accuracy, accountability and defensibility by logging every process step executed and data source used, Cline said. Furthermore, automation allows for larger amounts of information to be analyzed for audits, risk analysis, and predictive analytics instead of depending on a smaller sample size that has been the norm when done manually, he said.

The use of RPA and other intelligent automation is also leading to a decline in offshore outsourcing for the array of tasks that can be replaced by digital workers, Cline said. In turn, that would also save companies money and give them more control.

KPMG has used various degrees of intelligent automation for more than three years. In the future, Cline predicts use of automation will become more sophisticated with advancements in natural language processing and artificial intelligence.

“Bots are getting smarter,” Cline said. “The lines are blurring between those classes of automation. Now some of the newer bots can actually watch a human worker do work and learn through observation.”

With all the talk of advancement, there has been speculation on whether digital robots could start to completely take the place of their human counterparts and pose a threat to the everyday accountant.

Cline said he acknowledged that the end result could be that it will take fewer people to do a task with the help of automation. But he said automation can also help open the door for companies to expand their services. In general, the clients that KPMG is helping with automation are trying to keep costs under control as they expand their capabilities, he said.

In some ways, robotics will create more jobs because it requires tech-savvy workers, he said. More firms will need staffers who understand how automation works.

“There are not enough people in the market right now that know tax and technology,” Ricker said.

John A. Knutson and Co., a smaller accounting firm in Falcon Heights, doesn’t have the automated tools that the Big Four do, but Kyla ­Hansen, a director, said they will be useful.

“Right now, accountants coming out of college are high in demand,” she said. “So it doesn’t scare me at all to automate whatever we can to make best use of the workforce that we have because there is a shortage right now.”

Source: startribune.com-Robotic software sweeping large accounting firms and clients

AI and Robotics, Getting Smarter Rather than Tougher

The new wave of cobotics—robots that can safely work alongside humans—offers tremendous possibilities for industry. And with artificial intelligence (AI), smart robotics is changing the game. Thanks to new cognitive capabilities, robots can perform more than just repetitive tasks. DirectIndustry e-magazine interviewed Raun Kilgo, Director of the Robotic Process Automation division at technology research firm ISG.

DirectIndustry e-magazine: How would you define AI in robotics?

Raun Kilgo: Your workforce is human intelligence, in contrast to AI. When you give workers a framework or guidelines, they’ll spot patterns and understand how to complete tasks. Artificial intelligence is the ability of a far simpler machine than the human brain to exhibit the same level of pattern recognition, propose solutions and direct outcomes without human intervention.

DirectIndustry e-magazine: What kinds of robots can use AI?

Raun Kilgo: Industrial and mechanical robots, definitely! A robot making a car must be able to identify an inferior piece of steel intended for the hood. This requires inspection and heuristic activity to ensure that what it’s being asked to do is possible given the input. Information bots have to do the same thing when trying to understand the variability of human speech patterns and what people are asking for.

The real question is how to make sure humans are not supplanted by robots!

DirectIndustry e-magazine: How do you make sure robots can operate safely in factories alongside humans?

Raun Kilgo: The real question is how to make sure humans are not supplanted by robots! If mechanical robots become powerful enough to manufacture things independently, we must discuss the rules governing bot operations. Keep in mind that information bots can do as much good and as much harm as assembly line bots. If a bot sees something suspicious concerning my credit card while I am traveling abroad and blocks it without warning, I could be stranded. That’s why it’s crucial to establish additional controls so that AI systems don’t rely on just one or two data sets to make decisions. Maybe you need a human at the end of the line to make the decision, especially if the consequences could be serious for an individual. We need to keep a human involved in the decision making process.

DirectIndustry e-magazine: Who are the major players in AI and why are they getting involved?

Microsoft Tay
Raun Kilgo: Microsoft, Google and Amazon. But also robotic process automation people. Many heavy manufacturers are investing in AI. Everyone needs to enhance their decision making process without adding significant workforce overhead. They all want to make better decisions for their company and their customers, or optimize manufacturing efficiency.

DirectIndustry e-magazine: What do you think about Microsoft’s AI chatbot, Tay, which turned into an extremist after a couple of days on the web?

Raun Kilgo: Microsoft thought the bot would find good food. But people were malicious. Many feel threatened by bots and react negatively. They will do what they can to destabilize them. When we implement AI, the worst thing we can do is leave it alone. The best thing is to manage it, control it, understand it.

DirectIndustry e-magazine: Does that mean we need to redefine Asimov’s Laws of Robotics?

Raun Kilgo: Those laws are really simplistic and outdated because there’s no distinction between hardware and software. We definitely need new rules. This is what’s happening with self-driving cars. New concepts of governance need to be put in place to tell bots when to shut down rather than risk damage. AI is going to be a tremendous benefit for us. We’re going to have fewer workers, but they’ll be highly skilled. We need to maintain human involvement. It’s a slow invasion, but we’re already tied to it.

Source: emag.directindustry.com-AI and Robotics, Getting Smarter Rather than Tougher

Are Chief Artificial Intelligence Officers Really Necessary?

As artificial intelligence (AI) begins to become more popular throughout businesses and industries across the world, we are now seeing robots in places we would have never imagined including supermarkets, hotels, and call centers. And, with the introduction of all the AI comes the need to oversee it and ensure it works in the business’ favor of course. But is the role of a chief artificial intelligence officer really necessary?

Companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and Google are making AI a central part of their core intellectual property as they recognize the solutions it brings to the sales, manufacturing, logistics and business intelligence sectors. They’re employing the use of AI to try and improve productivity, implement automation, and provide predictive analysis. Using AI within their business models, these companies have a competitive advantage in helping to solve real business problems.

Many people are arguing that if you’re going to have an AI system in place, you should hire Chief AI Officers to drive the AI strategy. But, there are also those believe that’s an unnecessary move to make. The main thing that needs to be done when implementing any new AI into the business model is first to understand the business’ problems and goals. Hiring a Chief AI Officer will not get you this. Instead, you will get someone freshly trained in a relatively new field looking to implement a range of AI technologies into your organization, with their main goal being to use AI rather than solve real problems.

So, instead of hiring a Chief AI Officer, one alternative is to deal with the problems. Give the AI to the people that are dealing with these problems day in day out. These will be the people best equipped to be able to implement effective solutions as are in the very heart of it. At the end of the day, there is no magical AI solution to solve every business issue. AI will help, but ultimately it is down to the people that run the business, and that know the business inside out that will make the real difference when implementing AI systems into the organization, not a Chief AI officer.

Source: trendintech.com-Are Chief Artificial Intelligence Officers Really Necessary?

Q&A. AI and Robotics, Getting Smarter Rather than Tougher

The new wave of cobotics—robots that can safely work alongside humans—offers tremendous possibilities for industry. And with artificial intelligence (AI), smart robotics is changing the game. Thanks to new cognitive capabilities, robots can perform more than just repetitive tasks. DirectIndustry e-magazine interviewed Raun Kilgo, Director of the Robotic Process Automation division at technology research firm ISG.

DirectIndustry e-magazine: How would you define AI in robotics?

Raun Kilgo: Your workforce is human intelligence, in contrast to AI. When you give workers a framework or guidelines, they’ll spot patterns and understand how to complete tasks. Artificial intelligence is the ability of a far simpler machine than the human brain to exhibit the same level of pattern recognition, propose solutions and direct outcomes without human intervention.

DirectIndustry e-magazine: What kinds of robots can use AI?

Raun Kilgo: Industrial and mechanical robots, definitely! A robot making a car must be able to identify an inferior piece of steel intended for the hood. This requires inspection and heuristic activity to ensure that what it’s being asked to do is possible given the input. Information bots have to do the same thing when trying to understand the variability of human speech patterns and what people are asking for.

The real question is how to make sure humans are not supplanted by robots!

DirectIndustry e-magazine: How do you make sure robots can operate safely in factories alongside humans?

Raun Kilgo: The real question is how to make sure humans are not supplanted by robots! If mechanical robots become powerful enough to manufacture things independently, we must discuss the rules governing bot operations. Keep in mind that information bots can do as much good and as much harm as assembly line bots. If a bot sees something suspicious concerning my credit card while I am traveling abroad and blocks it without warning, I could be stranded. That’s why it’s crucial to establish additional controls so that AI systems don’t rely on just one or two data sets to make decisions. Maybe you need a human at the end of the line to make the decision, especially if the consequences could be serious for an individual. We need to keep a human involved in the decision making process.

DirectIndustry e-magazine: Who are the major players in AI and why are they getting involved?


Raun Kilgo: 
Microsoft, Google and Amazon. But also robotic process automation people. Many heavy manufacturers are investing in AI. Everyone needs to enhance their decision making process without adding significant workforce overhead. They all want to make better decisions for their company and their customers, or optimize manufacturing efficiency.

DirectIndustry e-magazine: What do you think about Microsoft’s AI chatbot, Tay, which turned into an extremist after a couple of days on the web?

Raun Kilgo: Microsoft thought the bot would find good food. But people were malicious. Many feel threatened by bots and react negatively. They will do what they can to destabilize them. When we implement AI, the worst thing we can do is leave it alone. The best thing is to manage it, control it, understand it.

DirectIndustry e-magazine: Does that mean we need to redefine Asimov’s Laws of Robotics?

Raun Kilgo: Those laws are really simplistic and outdated because there’s no distinction between hardware and software. We definitely need new rules. This is what’s happening with self-driving cars. New concepts of governance need to be put in place to tell bots when to shut down rather than risk damage. AI is going to be a tremendous benefit for us. We’re going to have fewer workers, but they’ll be highly skilled. We need to maintain human involvement. It’s a slow invasion, but we’re already tied to it.

Source: emag.directindustry.com-Q&A. AI and Robotics, Getting Smarter Rather than Tougher

Blue Prism Accelerates Access to AI and Cognitive Technologies with Operating System for the Digital Workforce

New Program Enables Technology Partners to Build out Best of Breed Capabilities on Industry Leading RPA Platform

Blue Prism, provider of the world’s most successful digital workforce, today announced a new Technology Alliance Program backed by industry heavyweights including AppianCaptricityCelatonExpert SystemIBM and Minit. These partners will leverage Blue Prism’s Robotic Process Automation (RPA) platform to help enterprises build out best-of-breed solutions incorporating cutting edge cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. The partners also help to underline Blue Prism’s position as the de facto standard for RPA, particularly in heavily regulated industries such as financial services, insurance, healthcare, telecom and retail.

“Our customers are seeking best-of-breed software and service providers for AI, cognitive; OCR and ICR, workflow and mobile platforms. Having described and encapsulated their processes on our platform, they have the opportunity to deploy an ecosystem of technologies that work in concert, using Blue Prism robots to provide transaction execution and process automation services, much like an operating system,” explained Blue Prism Founder and Chief Technology Officer Dave Moss. “Our software robots are becoming the foundation for more than automation: they are becoming the cornerstone for building out the next generation of enterprise-grade applications.”

Blue Prism’s Operating System for the Digital Workforce not only encapsulates and automates manual processing but also enables organizations to leverage, integrate and more efficiently utilize IT resources, platforms and technologies. The software is designed to deliver a complete automation platform that can meet the highest requirement levels for audit, security and compliance while taking advantage of cloud and AI capabilities. This gives partners and users alike an automation platform that accelerates access to emerging technologies while delivering on all the key tenants of enterprise-class software.

By leveraging Blue Prism’s technology ecosystem, customers benefit from a cohesive, best-in-class automation platform to form the operating system for the digital enterprise and deliver enablement, execution and insight on a robust and extensible RPA platform. The ecosystem supports examples such as using text analytics to provide insight into a stream of unstructured data from an email source, or directly querying a machine learning model from a Blue Prism process, to provide predictive responses.

Alastair Bathgate, Blue Prism’s CEO, stated, “We have been working with the foremost transformation advisors and partners to deliver digital transformation programs to many of the world’s largest corporations in the most demanding operational environments. For example, more than half of the Global Fortune 500 companies in Banking and Insurance have embarked upon digital transformation journeys with Blue Prism as their core Enterprise RPA platform.”

Phil Fersht, CEO of HfS, the leading RPA and digital labor analysts firm, noted, “We see an enormous move towards fully digital enterprises, and customers are looking for best-of-breed solutions that can be integrated into one digital automation platform. Blue Prism and its partners are now offering this capability, and it will be fascinating to see just how the digital workforce will accelerate the digital enterprise.”

Partner Quotes

“With IBM’s deep industry expertise, a full-range of consult through operate solutions, and most importantly, by combining our market leading cognitive capabilities with traditional RPA, we are leading with cognitive process automation, the next generation of RPA to accelerate our clients’ digital transformations,” said Jesus Mantas, General Manager of Cognitive Process Transformation, IBM Global Business Services. “Cognitive process automation is improving the efficiency of IBM clients’ processes beyond automation. For example, in procurement, human resources and finance, we are seeing an increase in productivity of 40 to 60 percent in some tasks by driving fundamental changes in the way work gets done.”

“Appian’s platform powers digital transformation for many of the world’s leading brands. We’ve found integrating with Blue Prism a simple and effective way to extend the power of Appian,” said Michael Beckley, Appian’s CTO. “Many organizations today are held back in their transformation efforts because they have a portfolio of legacy applications. Appian and Blue Prism can help these organizations transform more rapidly while avoiding or minimizing legacy integration projects. This partnership builds on the history of integrated Appian and Blue Prism solutions in production at our clients today.”

“As the inventor and leader of RPA, Blue Prism knows that RPA is becoming pervasive across all enterprise architectures and platforms,” said Christopher Lynch, VP of Sales at Captricity. “Captricity’s partnership with Blue Prism enables our largest customers to automate their end-to-end workflows, without the need for complex integrations or large-scale IT projects. We are excited to work with Blue Prism as part of our ongoing strategy to build a valuable partner ecosystem for some of the biggest life insurers in the world.”

“Celaton’s machine learning capabilities combined with Blue Prism RPA enables organizations to achieve efficiencies that were previously out of reach,” said Andrew Anderson, CEO of Celaton. “All inbound information streams can be brought into automations regardless media channel, format or unstructured nature of the data.”

“Our joint customers are the most effective proof of the complementarity between Expert System’s Cognitive Technologies and Blue Prism’s automation platform,” said Marco Varone, Founder, CTO and President of Expert System. “Together we strive to make full automation a reality while maximizing the business value of RPA. We are excited to establish a solid partnership with Blue Prism with the intention of making AI a strategic factor for success in support of a wide range of organizations worldwide.”

“Our clients can now take RPA to the next level using Blue Prism. From planning and initial analysis, to identification of areas where RPA can help the most, to continuous testing and improvement in real-life scenarios, this program will bring powerful and quantifiable technology advantages to our customers,” said Jaroslav Zubak, CTO for Minit.io. “Minit is driving the digital transformation process by enabling customers to turn their data into actionable results backed by 100 percent accurate data. We’re proud to be a part of this automation transformation initiative.”

Source: blueprism.com-Blue Prism Accelerates Access to AI and Cognitive Technologies with Operating System for the Digital Workforce

21 Bot Experts Share Their 2017 Predictions

2016 was a huge year for bots, with major platforms like Facebook launching bots for Messenger and Amazon and Google heavily pushing their digital assistants. Looking forward to 2017, we asked 21 bot experts, entrepreneurs, and executives to share their predictions for how bots will continue to evolve in the coming year.

1. Andy Mauro, CEO, Automat

In 2017 brands will realize that Conversational Marketing is a better way to learn about and build relationships with their customer than today’s digital marketing which monitors their customers with cookies, pixels, search and social data. We’ll also see powerful case study data showing that opt-in and conversion rates and the quality of profile information that can be obtained conversationally far outweighs the benefits of email marketing, marketing automation and apps

2. Tania McCormack, Director of Product Management, Flowdock

Bots will be even more helpful, more intuitive, and most of all, more human. In Flowdock, we aim to have our users interact with bots like we do the people around us to get the information and updates we need. Best of all, bots will continue to keep work fun and to make us laugh.

3. David Mendlewicz, Co-Founder, Butterfly

We’re going to see more and more instances of bots helping us develop and grow as humans. To date, bots are primarily seen as a novel utility–a way to get things done more quickly or grasp information more immediately. Moving forward, the machine genius of bots will help understand our learning gaps and fill them in with relevant, personalized information that’s rooted in real data. In other words, bots will be a boon for education.

4. Ben Parr, CMO and Co-founder, Octane AI

There will be an explosion of unique content and experiences from bots as the barrier to creating and managing them drops. This will lead to some breakout bots. Some people will be famous primarily for their bots.

5. Justin Vandehey, Founder, Growbot

In 2017, I think we’re going to see bots grow up a bit, both in terms of standards for how they should be built and how they should be used. There’s a finite set of core workflows and jobs that can be improved. Bot builders who identify those workflows and fit in without requiring a ton of behavior change…those, are the money bots.

6. Jordi Torras, Founder & CEO of Inbenta, Inbenta

Chatbots will get increasingly smart, thanks to the adoption of sophisticated AI algorithms and machine learning. But also they will specialize more in specific tasks, like online purchases, customer support or online advice. First attempts of chatbot interoperability will start to appear, with generalist chatbot, like Siri or Alexa, connecting to specialized enterprise chatbots to accomplish specific tasks. Functions traditionally performed by search engines will be increasingly performed by chatbots.

7. Dan Reich, CEO, Co-Founder, Troops

The word “bots” will slowly go away as people realize that the value is less about talking to a computer or bot, and more about having intelligent workflow within a conversational platform.

8. Dmitriy Kachin, Head of Partnerships, Chatfuel

1) AI Technology – once the Machine Learning aspect of the current AI engines moves on to the next level, and the NLP functionality becomes more sophisticated, we should see some really interesting breakthroughs in terms of chatbot experiences that will appear as a result of that. 2) E-Commerce – when the ability to monetize your bot becomes more robust with solutions integrating CRM systems, warehouse management systems, order tracking, etc – there will be a lot more motivation to realize your offering in a chatbot form. The resulting increase in various e-commerce use cases and the corresponding user traffic should be interesting to watch. 3) As a result of 1 and 2, overall wider adoption of bots.

9. Rob MayCEO and Co-founder, Talla

This year, we’ll finally see large enterprises adopting chat. In our own lead flow at Talla we’ve seen that Fortune 1000s are exploring platforms and what they can do with them. This is how people want to work—and they’re seeing the vision too. We’re at the tipping point where they’re starting to cross over. As a result, we’ll see the integration ecosystem continue to mature into more robust solutions.

10. Lauren Kunze, CEO, Pandorabots, Inc.

Right now the industry needs data driven success stories as an antidote to hype, and this year certain bot applications will increasingly yield real business results. This will help brands filter the noise and differentiate upstarts from industry leaders. Beyond 2017, I predict bots will be the primary interface for casual interactions between people and brands, and people and connected things.

11. Amir Shevat, Head of Developer Relations, Slack

We will see conversational interfaces facilitating productive business workflows. We will see bots augment our life experiences in text and voice in consumer use cases.

12. Mikhail Naumov, Co-founder, CSO, DigitalGenius

In 2017 brands will understand when to use scripted chatbots and when to use machine learning algorithms. Customer Service functions in particular will be significantly transformed with latest advances in deep learning and artificial intelligence. Human and machine intelligence will be combined in a seamless way, to make great experiences for customers.

13. Zor Gorelov, CEO & Co-Founder, Kasisto

We expect the bot landscape to expand in 3 key areas: monetization, security and overall growth in capabilities. A marketplace on popular platforms will enable discovery and in-app transactions. This will drive a higher standard for security, especially in privacy-centric industries like banking, insurance or healthcare. The more companies and players in the space, the faster the bots will improve and the more useful they will become.

14. Marlene Jia, Chief Revenue Officer, TOPBOTS

Bots will be built with specific use cases and objectives in mind driving actual adoption of the consumer.. 2016 was a year of experimentation for both the brands and users, and there were a lot of learnings that emerged. In 2017, you’ll see brands and bot creators doing a better job identifying the use case for the bot and the narrow goals of what the bot should be able to do. We can’t guarantee AI will be at the stage it needs to be to make bots intelligent enough, but what we can do is have a clear idea of what the bot should do and design it based on that objective.

15. Matthew Hartman, Partner, Betaworks

We will start to see a set of bots that are growing, solving the discovery problem in unique ways. We’ll also start to see messaging services experiment with monetization that feels native and unique.

16. Oren Jacob, CEO, PullString

We will see Alexa voice experiences grow substantially in usage, reach, and complexity. A lot of amazing things are being built for the Alexa platform.

17. Jeff Pulver, Founder, MoNage

The way “we” experience the Internet is changing, and that the result of the shift in how communication evolves will be highly disruptive. Communications will be better, easier and more relevant for us Internet users as a result of AI. Summing up the change, the interface between humans and computers is rapidly changing from an “operational” interface (Websites, apps) to a “conversational” interface (ChatBots, voice interfaces). This is revolutionary, given that the “operational” interface has been the standard way to interact with computers since the earliest computers came on the market.

18. Dennis Yang, CoFounder & CPO, Dashbot

We are already seeing continued strong growth in the bot space across all platforms for the first part of 2017. I predict we will see a number of bots hit one million DAU by the end of 2017. Furthermore, we will begin to see more bots that fully embrace the capabilities of conversational UIs, differentiating themselves from the web & mobile experiences to which we are currently accustomed.

19. Tom Hadfield, CEO, Message.io

2017 will be the year of the conversational workplace. With the launch of Slack Enterprise Grid, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts Chat and Workplace by Facebook all in the first four months of the year, the enterprise messaging space is proving to be where bots are finding mainstream adoption. 2017 will be the year that conversational interfaces begin to transform the $620 billion enterprise software industry, just as the graphical user interface did in the 80’s, the web did in the 90’s, and mobile apps did more recently.

20. Sandeep Chivukula, Co Founder, Botmetrics

More push; Less pull. Today bots react to customers. The best bots of 2017 will predict what’s improtant to customers and help them take action.

21. Rachel Law, CEO/founder, Kip

The line between software bots and robots/drones will blur as physical bots integrate into platforms. Soon you’ll be able to control roombas and drones through Messenger!

 

Source: topbots.com-21 Bot Experts Share Their 2017 Predictions

Robotic process automation – a new frontier in customer service?

Customer service has always been a key business differentiator. However, recent technological progress, greater consumer choice and eroding loyalty means the empowered customer will no longer stand for sub-standard experiences. As a result, the past few years have seen a renewed focus on the consumer.

This is being reflected in internal business structures across sectors. Where once the customer would be the sole responsibility of the marketing department, they have now become a company-wide responsibility. From the c-suite to IT, brands are placing the customer at the heart of every department and designing their processes and structure with customer fulfilment at the centre of their thinking.

Digital transformation

The digital revolution has driven further advances in customer experience, allowing consumers to interact with their favourite brands whenever and however they want. Digital tools such as webchat, apps and social media are the norm – and in the race to provide the best customer service, forward-thinking brands are now experimenting with the latest technology to create novel, value-added solutions for their clients.

This is in part driven by journey mapping. At Firstsource, we use Interaction Analytics (FCI) to map the customer experience across all touchpoints, highlighting the ‘make or break’ moments – those reasons for customers to exit any given process – in the overall journey. From there, we work with brands to improve the pain points and policies and help make them more customer friendly.

Our experience tells us that customer experience is all about convenience, so it’s important businesses stay on top of what convenience looks like. This depends on integrating new channels to help businesses interact on customers’ own terms, which is why we’re currently looking at how we can use popular messaging platforms such as WhatsApp to deliver tailored communications in real-time, for example.

While traditional contact channels such as voice and email will always be important, new technologies helps connect brands with digitally-savvy customers. As an added bonus, businesses also get the kudos that come with appearing as an innovative and customer-focused brand.

The automation opportunity

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is one of the newest frontiers in customer service. At its core, RPA is the application of a computer software or “robot” to process transactions, manipulate data or trigger responses, depending on the scope of the request. This technology has the potential to unlock value across a wide range of different industries and business functions. In particular, regulated industries with high volume and transactional business processes stand to gain significant benefits from the application of RPA.

Done well, it can deliver more cost efficient, streamlined and compliant processes. At the same time, automation allows employees to focus on higher value activity that will drive customer experience. It’s a win win for businesses who get it right.

However, while appetite for robo-advice among consumers is growing, it’s clear that automation requires careful due diligence to understand the opportunities, risks and requirements for delivery.

And consumers understandably still have their doubts when it comes to automated advice. A recent study conducted by Firstsource showed that 44 per cent of consumers see the availability of a bank branch as their number one deciding factor when choosing their banking provider – telling a cautionary tale for businesses undergoing digital transformation.

RPA transformation

Needless to say, integrating RPA is a significant undertaking. While the specifics will depend on the business, the sector they operate in, and the extent to which they are aiming to automate their processes, there are three critical ingredients for a successful RPA transformation.

The first – and perhaps most important – is that RPA must be a strategic fit for the company. RPA needs to be understood not as a process but as a strategic capability that increases business value. This re-engineering will be key to increasing the impact of automation and maximising ROI, and must be given due diligence – so it’s vital businesses understand which processes will deliver the biggest business benefit when automated, and construct a careful roadmap accordingly.

Next, there also needs to be buy in for transformation and automation from the C-suite for RPA to be a success. Cultural adoption may often require education and careful articulation of the business benefits of the solution, and lack of internal support at a senior level can be one of the major stumbling blocks to RPA implementation.

Unsurprisingly, successful automation also relies on IT engagement. Legacy IT systems and resistance from existing IT departments can often be a barrier to transformation and automation. Bringing the IT function on board at the beginning of the automation journey will help to set a clear roadmap for transformation and identify any potential roadblocks that lie ahead.

RPA in practice

When thinking about the ways businesses can use RPA, most peoples’ thoughts turn to chatbots. Microsoft, Uber and Twitter are just a few brands who have recently launched bots for customer service – although some with more success than others.

While they have the potential to go very wrong, chabots can be useful to solve straightforward transactions and simple queries. They can also help shepherd customers on a relatively linear journey, such as answering delivery questions on an order.

But RPA can be used for more than just straightforward customer engagement. It also has the potential to transform back office processes, freeing-up employees from repetitive tasks to focus on more complex and value-added work. And it can also be used to transform more complex processes, such as commercial finance operations. This is particularly valuable in the financial services industry, where many businesses rely on the efficient and cost-effective running of their commercial finance division to keep them in business.

But often, the smooth running of these operations are hampered by inefficient, expensive and cumbersome legacy technologies. And while many businesses recognise that this is holding them back, they lack the skills, resource and expertise to overhaul the outdated systems and processes. Outsourcing commercial finance operations can be an effective way to transform a business through automation with lower risk and resource.

By simplifying and automating processes and redesigning operating models, many large-scale financial organisations should be able to increase productivity in their commercial finance operations by between 30-50- per cent, while reducing cost to serve by 25 per cent.

Whether it’s customer-facing or in the back-office, brands have a lot to gain by integrating RPA in their operations. What’s clear is that automation is here to stay and evolve – and businesses must determine how it can play a key role in delivering the best customer experience possible.

Source: itproportal.com-Robotic process automation – a new frontier in customer service?