Bots may seem like cute little helpers that do trivial tasks such as playing your music and reading you the news and weather. But their cute little name belies a larger truth: We are living in the Era of the Bot and they are touching and changing every aspect of our culture, from home to work and beyond.
If you aren’t already clear about this: a bot is not actually a physical robot, but a piece of software that automates the exchange of digital information.
Today’s bot universe looks very much like the human one. There are good bots and bad bots. Bots built for being social. Chatbots for providing helpful replies that can be pre-built or driven by new intelligence tools. Then, there are the bots you probably know the best, Alexa and Siri. Sheesh, even little kids have Story Bots on Netflix.
The evidence of how common bots have become is all around us, but here are some fun bot-facts:
• More than half of all Internet traffic is now conducted by bots. And the number of bad bots easily outnumbers the good bots, according this annual report. Bots are hacking websites, scraping data for credit card numbers, and impersonating hot Harvard-educated men and women to seduce you into sending their human masters cash.
• More than 2,200 bots help to edit more than 45 million pages of content on Wikipedia. For example, one of these bots is called InternetArchiveBot (IABot), and he does one thing: retrieves archived copies of dead web links. There’s even this crazy story about how Wikipedia’s editor bots have been, quite seriously, engaged in conflict with one another, according this article in the Guardian.
• Social media bots have been used successfully in politics for years now. For example, fake social media accounts created and managed by bots were found to like some politicians a lot more than others, suggested more popularity than really existed. These bots are put to work liking and sharing stories favorable to their cause rapidly, to amplify their impact, according to this Washington Post story.
But let’s get more serious. With bots successfully doing a gazillion tasks a day, are you using bots in your business yet?
Bots for Business Are Here
The world of business bots is known as Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and if you aren’t looking at RPA bots for your business, you may be falling behind your competition. This is especially true if your business is, say, over more than $100 million in revenue.
You should be using bots — which are increasingly called “digital workers” in the business world — to do all the repetitive tasks that humans no longer need to do: pay your invoices, onboard and offboard employees with their email, health care and 401K accounts, manage all your repetitive shipping tasks.
Today’s RPA bots can already handle extremely complex tasks requiring complex logic across business apps. But as artificial intelligence offerings grow, the bots are only getting smarter and more capable. You can learn even more about RPA capabilities in The Essential Guide to Robotic Process Automation.
If your business feels like you have workers tied up doing mundane repetitive tasks, when you have more important things for them to do, it’s probably a good time to look at what a bot can do for you. Especially in this high-employment era where talent is hard to find.
In fact, if your enterprise feels strangled by complexity, inaccurate work, disorganization and chaos, a bot can probably help. There’s even a handy ROI calculator to show you just how much your business can save by having bots do some tasks instead of humans.