Standardization in the Year of the Chatbot

Artificial intelligence (AI) is nothing new. Simple forms of it – bots and algorithms - are spell checking your documents, virus scanning your PC, and sorting your Facebook feed to bring the pictures from your best friend’s birthday to the top.

However, many organizations are looking to implement more sophisticated models of AI as a way of automating repetitive tasks while giving customers the immediacy and quality of service they expect.

While bots are designed to deal with time-consuming repetitive tasks to allow talent – people - time to innovate, they provide yet another angle of attack for an inventive and opportunistic swath of hackers.

At Insight’s recent Technology Show, one of the key questions was how organizations may reap the rewards of this emerging technology without endangering their business. The answer is simple: Get our houses in order and have a plan before jumping on the AI bandwagon. 

Simplify, standardize then automate
Bot and algorithms are intelligent scripts and some consider them AI at its most basic layer. They can be highly positive for organizations to employ when processes are clean and clearly defined. 

For many organizations, clean and defined processes are, at best, aspirational. Hidden webs of undocumented processes, questionable information, and undefined trails of data can destroy the potential value of tools like chatbots. Why? Bots and algorithms – all AI - need access to accurate information, defined data sources, and processes to be effective. 

Though perhaps the most concerning effect is on cybersecurity. After all, how can you properly protect data that you don’t even know exists? 

It comes down to the fact that AI is nearly impossible to deploy when multiple processes conflict or are loosely defined. Imagine then trying to do something more complex like Spotify creating a personalized playlist or Lidl recommending wine choices as you do your weekly shop, all while keeping customer data safe at crucial moments in a transaction (of money or data) and protecting it once it’s stored.

The simple truth is none of this is possible without clearly defined expectations, parameters of operations, standardized and refined processes, and competent supervision. 

One may automate multiple sub-processes within a non-standard process, if they themselves are standard, but not the top level process itself unless it is generally repeatable with an expected outcome. In other words, standard. 

The key to successful bot deployment is to identify clearly defined repeatable processes, or clean up existing processes so they are clearly defined. Then implement them under the watchful eye of a trained resource to ensure workflows run smoothly. That brings us onto the next layer of preparation – people.

Bringing AI into the workforce
Artificial intelligence is going to be one of the year’s buzzwords; however, we expect organizations to begin viewing it as part of the employee base versus being a piece of technology. Why? Culture to accept automation will dictate success as much as defined and repeatable processes.

As companies increase adoption of complex AI they’re going to look at how to configure the organization to manage, monitor and safeguard the bots – just like you would people. Put simply - to be successful, organizations need to have a culture of ensuring processes and security programs fit with the way both people and bots operate.
  
If a bot helps resolve helpdesk enquiries like resetting passwords, does that make them part of the workforce? It definitely makes them something dealing with people and security.

Additionally, our latest research of senior business leaders found that AI was cited as the most beneficial tool for customer services by over a third of respondents.

AI isn’t new, its decades old, but markets are just responding to its potential due to the advances in technology and public policy. Successful organizations will be asking not only what AI – or more automation – can do for them, but how they can adapt processes and security protocols to AI. That’s when we’ll really see the magic happen.

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