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Future Thinking: Chatbots for Internal Communications…

26th May 2016

 
We’re big fans of
Shell Holtz here at Rima, and so we try to stay on top of what he is thinking and doing. Recently an email dropped into our inbox that within which, Shell revealed a topic that he has been giving thought to – chatbots. Specifically, the use of chatbots for internal communications.
 
His brief message on chatbots also included a link to Tangowork. Tangowork although not yet launched, is an example of a chatbot for internal communications.
 
 
InternalComms chatbot
 
 
One thing we share with Shell is our desire to keep up to date with the latest trends in internal communications – this can be seen through the annual ‘Internal comms trends’ ebook that we have produced for the past four years. The latest of which you can find here… ‘2016 #InternalComms Trends’.
 
InternalComms Trends
 
 
Chatbots are therefore something that has been on our radar for a while now too. Notably because they are a key component of a much bigger trend – automation. The ‘rise of the robots’ and how they look set to completely disrupt the way of work, as we know it, is something we’re sure you’re now familiar with, given the sheer amount of talk on the subject.
 
In addition, when the big players, notably Facebook, are betting heavily on messaging bots, it gives a pretty good indication on the power they will likely hold as a future communications medium.
 
Facebook M, is Facebook’s artificial intelligence messaging system. Quite simply their goal is ultimately for you to use Facebook M as your portal to the web. So, whatever you want to find out, the bot on Facebook M will provide you with the answers. So advanced will Facebook M become that it will be telling you things and taking actions on your behalf before you even knew you needed or wanted to. And it will be doing so in such a way that it will feel natural and human-like.
 
 
 

How then could chat bots be used within the organisation, to help with internal communications?

 
Well, lets first see what they are already doing. Slack is an internal messaging platform that is arguably leading the pack when it comes to internal chatbots. Their bot, somewhat unsurprisingly is called ‘Slackbot’ and it’s getting more advanced all of the time, especially because Slack let developers build their own Slackbots. And without wanting to get too technical, or boring, another key reason for chatbots predicted success, is that through machine learning they are learning all of the time. With chatbots it is their ability to understand and learn natural language. Quite simply, the more a chatbot is used, and communicated with, the better it will get.
 
Anyway, below is an example of a Slackbot in action. This one was programmed to help leaders stay updated on the progress of their team members. This is a good example of how a bot can take simple, boring tasks away from humans – freeing them up to focus on the important things.
 
 
InternalComms chatbot
 
 
It’s obvious to say, but organisations are continually looking for ways to make it easier for employees to access the information that they need. That really should be one of the ultimate goals that internal communicators are trying to achieve.
 
 
 

A Chatbot example

 
We have had numerous conversations with potential and current clients on how they can best provide employees with certain pieces of information – the right information, at the right time.
 
It’s best if we use a scenario to help explain what we mean.
 
Employees of an organisation may find themselves in positions of uncertainty, where they are unsure of the correct business decision to make. An example could be an instance when the acceptance of a gift/experience from a client could be seen as a possible form of bribery. The employee at that point in time is unsure on whether to accept the invitation, and is away from the office so away from others that they can call upon for advice. Yes they could email a colleague, but it will be unlikely that they receive the instant response they are in need of, and it will also be an additional distraction to another employee.
 
An app could be the solution. A solution where all of the information is available, but the employee still has to go through a filtering process of sorts, making appropriate selections and tapping away on their device to get to the relevant information. Clearly, taking this app approach can still be a bit inefficient.
 
However, with a messaging bot, you ask the bot a question in the natural messaging way you are used to – which will ultimately be through the use of natural language – and the bot will instantly respond with the information you need. That is one way a chatbot could improve internal communications, by providing you with the required information to help advise and inform you.
 
Inform, assist, motivate, track, advise, alert and remind you. When you take a minute and ponder the potential that chatbots hold, you may perhaps experience feelings of excitement and trepidation in equal measures. When the chatbots get to a stage when they can pass the Turing test, and so you therefore can’t decipher a bot from a human, is when we’ll know chatbots have truly arrived.
 
We’ve no doubt that chatbots will become a vital component of internal communications, just when, is really the only unknown…
 
Until next time…
 
Rima
 
 

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