Software Bots Are Changing the Business Operations Landscape
The advent of Internet technology has revolutionised the technology world. Innovations in cloud technology have paved the way for a multitude of new services and solutions such as Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Robotic Process Automation, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality. Today, software bots, augmented with artificial intelligence is empowering businesses in intelligently automating business processes.
An Overview of Software Bots
A software bot is a unique software program that is designed to automate tasks. It enables businesses to automate repetitive and routine tasks to optimise resources efficiently. Being an automated program running on the cloud (or off-line), bots perform tasks more efficiently and accurately when compared with humans. Software bots can assist humans or can completely replace them in some business operations. Bots take up different roles. While some of them just work in a role-based process, others can intelligently perform tasks and take decisions too. Unlike robots that have a physical presence, software bots only live within software programs and don’t necessarily take a physical shape. They can be a part of a messaging app or a website, part of your existing business intelligence systems, your CRM and email systems – as well as your IVR (phone systems).
Software bots can analyse data, organise documents, manage calendars, parse data, perform administration tasks in the background or engage customers in chats and emails. Google was one of the first to fully leverage software bots in the form of web crawlers for its search engine. Today, many businesses use software bots unknowingly to handle basic customer service operations, business automation, as well as removing the need for repetitive and laborious work.
The Evolution of Software Bots
Initially, bots were used to perform basic office automation tasks. Later, search engines started using bots to crawl millions of websites for indexing and cataloguing tasks. At the same time, hackers also took advantage of them and started using them to perform DDoS attacks, spam users and hack networks. The next phase saw the advent of chatbots that dynamically interacted with customers. These chatbots later took a more complex shape in the form of digital assistants. Siri, Alexa and Cortana are famous examples of digital assistant solutions. They receive voice commands and provide the required information. On the other side, bots gave rise to the Internet of things and home automation systems.
In 2016, social media giant Facebook added bots to its messenger platform. Today, the software bot market is open for innovation. Paired with artificial intelligence, software bots are now empowering every industry. Right from content writing to coding, bots are replacing human tasks with ease.
- Types of Bots
A bot doesn’t have a physical presence and performs simple and repetitive tasks such as organising documents or performing admin tasks.
- A chatbot too doesn’t necessarily have a physical presence and converses with customers in real-time. While Alexa and Siri come in a physical form, they still perform customer service chatbot operations.
- A robot is a hardware bot that has a physical shape and arms to perform physical tasks along with software tasks.
Benefits of Software bots
Software bots have revolutionised business processes in recent times. Starting with simple IRC bots and web crawlers, software bots have been rapidly evolving to perform intelligent and complex operations too. Here are some of the key benefits offered by software bots to businesses of all sizes.
Software bots significantly reduce operational costs as they perform tasks in a fraction of time. According to Vedametric, one of Australia’s leading bot developers, bots can come as cheap as $1000 as well as reach prices of $50,000 – depending on the scale of tasks for the bot. Development costs are a one-off cost which means bots can be scaled to run in a parallel, simultaneously and on several devices at once. At a cost of $50,000 – one single bot can be used to replace 1000’s of employees.
Other savings are not inherently visible. For instance, if you want to acquire a company, it takes several days for data analysts to pull out credit history, business revenues, TCO and ROI and other relevant data. However, a bot does it within seconds. Software bots enable businesses of all sizes to optimise resources to the core.
Software bots accurately run a task every single time and consistently deliver the same results. Be it invoice management, data entry or document organisation, repetitive tasks are automated with zero errors. As such, business efficiencies are significantly improved.
Software bots work at incredible speeds and handle work that is generally done by multiple people. A product-writing bot can write product copies for thousands of products in a few seconds. It can look for market prices, do a bunch of calculations and update prices accordingly based on set margins or daily data.
Better customer engagement
Software bots enable you to analyse customer behavioural trends and better engage them 24/7 with reduced hold times. With a highly available and consistent customer service across the infrastructure, customers experience is significantly improved. An AI-powered bot will be able to semantically, as well as contextually, analyse the message and respond accordingly based on tone analysis, word usage, and so on. It can “read between the lines” just like a human can and make effective decisions on what to say to communicate with the customer.
Compliance made easy
Human employees come with baggage. A company has to provide several facilities to their employees and comply with governing regulations. However, with bots, you don’t have to face any HR, Labor or legal hassles. As such, you can focus more on your core processes.
The State of the Software Bot Market
The global software bot market is rapidly increasing in recent times. Today, chatbots are the most popular software bots across the globe. According to Forbes, the global chatbot market earned a revenue of $2.6 billion in 2019. This value is expected to touch $9.4 billion by 2024, growing at a CAGR of 29.7% during 2019-2024. Similarly, Grand View Research opines that the global chatbot market will grow to $1.25 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 24.3% between 2018 and 2025. Mordor Intelligence reports that the chatbot market earned a revenue of $17.17 billion in 2019 and is expected to touch $102.29 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 34.75% during the period 2020-2025. These numbers speak volumes of the growing popularity of the software bot market.
How Are Businesses Leveraging Software Bots
Here are some of the key industries that are leveraging the software bot innovation.
Chat bots are revolutionising the customer service landscape. These AI-powered chatbots can simultaneously converse with multiple customers, answer their queries and efficiently provide the required information. They decrease hold times, quickly answer common issues and efficiently route traffic to the right places. They offer instant resolution and are available 24×7. With chatbots, automation becomes easy. They continuously learn and improve what they offer. Customers might be comfortable asking various questions to a bot instead of a real human which means you gain new leads as well as generate up-sales and cross-sales. Hubbot for HubSpot, Chatfuel for Facebook Messenger, Botsify, Insomnobot 3000 are some examples in this segment.
Software bots are taking up the role of content writers too. For an e-commerce business that deals with millions of products, bots not only organise and catalogue products, but they are also creating product copies and datasheets. E-commerce bots developed by Vedametric can rapidly search all your competitor’s pricing across hundreds of sales channels, automatically increase/decrease pricing as well as identify sales trends across several industries.
Data/Customer Scraping Bots
Having an employee analysing data and process data from social media, or other data sources can be very, very time-consuming. A bot can do it all automatically, within minutes and report their findings to you periodically. It is also able to apply business intelligence to data it finds to predict events accurately. Vedametric has developed bots to do just this for some of Australia’s largest businesses.
We recently created a bot for one of Australia’s largest telco’s to identify competitors’ customers who were complaining about service levels. Every available data from these customers were collected, analysed semantically & contextually, and this data was then used to create an automated marketing campaign to those customers directly. The result? An 80% conversion rate.
While healthcare was initially slow to the digital revolution, it is now aggressively embracing this technology innovation. Healthcare institutions are using healthcare bots for patient engagement, digital prescriptions, track patient care, streamline and automate administration tasks while alerting the concerned medical teams in case of emergencies.
The e-commerce industry is in the frontline when it comes to leveraging software bot technology. Software bots act as a digital shopping assistant that interacts with customers, offer them support to navigate across the site, analyse their needs and help them in choosing the right products that meet their preferences, improving the customer experience. In addition, they offer effective marketing services by sending automated alerts in the form of promotional offers, production information, new arrivals etc. Hennes & Mauritz AB (H&M) saw a significant increase in sales when they integrated H&M chatbot in messenger app in 2016.
Software bots are changing the way businesses operate and engage with customers. Businesses that are quick to embrace this innovation are surging ahead of their competition. Failing to leverage this trend is sure to leave you out of the game.
If you’d like to chat more about bots (with a real human, of course!) – please contact Vedametric on (02) 9011 1010 or send us an email.
Kunal Miind // Vedametric.com.au
About the Author
Kunal is the lead engineer and automation expert at Vedametric. Vedametric is a chatbot development company in Australia and provides a multitude of technology solutions for its customers.