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Changing Trends in the Chatbot Space
Justin Vandehey, Co-Founder, Disco
• Chatbots are enabling more meaningful interactions between people, both online and offline. Chatbots aren’t replacing human interactions; rather they are helping humans have more meaningful connections with one another. For example, Disco helps employees celebrate great work together. It encourages and documents a meaningful and natural interaction between two colleagues.
• Chatbots are becoming more intelligent and taking on more complex tasks. By learning more about your natural work and personal behaviors (shopping, browsing), chatbots are helping consumers and employees become more efficient and free up time to get higher level and more strategic tasks done. This assumes they have context and an opportunity to observe natural behavior, which brings me to last point.
• Chatbots are enhancing native software platforms and applications. For example, Disco strives to be a recognition platform that meets employees where they work, whether that be Slack, Google for Business, or Microsoft 365. Disco’s chatbot enhances the functionality of these core platforms as well as our core web service and dashboard, where Disco’s customer, HR and culture executives, experience the most value.
In 2017, brands have increasingly partnered with established retailers like Amazon; Google Home for creating voice-assisted bots. What do you expect to see in 2018?
I think the some of the most innovative brands are going to strive to use advancements in chatbots and AI to meet their customers in other, non-conventional or traditional means. For example, Delta partnered with Disco (formerly Growbot) to reward NY based employees as part of their ‘Summer Friday’s’ campaign. Each week, Delta sponsored a special reward for NY based employees that used Slack for internal communication, and used Disco to deliver that reward. It was great for Delta because they could build on the relationship they had with their customers in a way before wasn’t ever done before.
What kind of potential do chatbot hold in different verticals starting from marketing, sales to customer retention and engagement?
Saving time and personalization seems to be the two largest opportunities across each of these verticals as it pertains to chatbots. For example, Troops.
Chatbots can consolidate and condense workflows to help CIOs get more out of the existing systems that they’ve already invested in
AI helps sales leaders save time by entering information directly into the interface of Salesforce, saving reps hundreds of hours in data entry each quarter. Platforms like Hubspot, the maker of GrowthBot, help marketers and sales leaders get information about competitors and prospects to be more efficient in their acquisition tactics. Solutions like Octane.ai help brands and celebrities build relationships with fans and customers by learning more about them and tailoring campaign efforts to address their interests and preferences.
Chatbots will be used to gather and store customer insights for further analysis. How will this makes chatbot better equipped to answer future questions and helps understand customers?
I see chatbots like Disco helping re-imagine the workplace in a way that makes employees more efficient and happier. Disco is focused on employee recognition, so our mission is to help employees identify great work when it happens and celebrate those achievements when it’s contextually relevant to do so. This information can be used to help inform compensation and performance evaluation decisions for employees, or help a HR executive understand the behaviors, skills and traits of top performers. Other chatbots like Donut.ai or Polly.ai are great solutions for connecting new employees with one another, or getting a quick pulse insight via survey from employees, respectively, within the context of their day-to-day work. Each of these unique interactions, whether between colleagues or with a chatbot, provide a snapshot into a moment of a particular employee’s work behavior and history.
Along with chatbot, big data has been one of the most talked about terms in the past few years. Your thoughts on this emerging trend?
A chatbot might not be the best way to derive an insight that has an impact on conversion, retention, or revenue growth. I’m highly skeptical of chatbot solutions that passively collect data and promise meaningful insights without any input or guidance from a human to come to a meaningful solution, such as customer or employee sentiment solutions. When you use Disco, there’s very clear intent to do so, and employees and HR executives understand why they’re using it and what question they’re hoping to answer. If you don’t know what question you’re trying to answer about your employees or your customers, a chatbot likely has an answer for you (literally and figuratively).
What are the major tasks for organizational CIOs at this point in time?
One of the hardest parts of being a CIO would be implementing technology that my employees love while also eliminating solutions that are redundant and not mission critical to my business. chatbots provide an opportunity to consolidate and condense workflows to help CIOs get more out of the existing systems that they’ve already invested in, such as enabling software systems to work more effectively by themselves or work with one another. That’s where I see the biggest opportunity for folks working in and around the chatbot space.
What is your advice for budding technologists in the chatbot space?
First and foremost, focus on one problem and start simple. When we initially launched Disco, we supported many complex workflows and commands that made the experience bloated and less valuable. When we narrowed our focus to one use case, recognition, the results were outstanding. Usage skyrocketed and our value proposition became so much clearer. Keep it simple. Second, chatbots are not a means to an end. They’re one tool in a large toolkit of complementary software solutions or programs aimed at helping you achieve your business outcomes. Chatbots should be a critical part of your strategy, but not the strategy.