Juhana Huotarinen is a lead consultant of software development at Gofore. Juhana’s background is in software engineering and lately he has taken part for some of the biggest digitalisation endeavours in Finland. His blogs focus on current topics, involving agile transformation, software megatrends, and work culture. Juhana follows the ‘every business is a software business’ motto.
Chatbots have gained an unusually large focus in recent years. A chatbot is a piece of software that performs automated tasks, such as setting an alarm, scheduling a meeting or ordering a pizza. Here is one story of chatbots’ practical use.
Gofore is a Finnish software and consultancy company. Because of the company’s rapid growth, its manual and repetitive tasks required more and more attention. Hiring more managers was never an option.
The original idea was to design a fancy dashboard and graph tool. We started the internal project, and within three months the tool was ready. As usual, our first hunch was wrong. The management used a few graphs, but the tool never gained the popularity we had hoped for.
If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the mountain. Therefore, we looked to one common tool that people use on daily basis – Slack *. Soon, we created the first chatbot on Slack.
Adding a chatbot to Slack was easy. The dashboard and graph tool already integrates to our ERP and a few other background systems via API or Webhooks. From there, the data goes to the time series database.
The chatbot army uses the same architecture as described above. Some bots are schedule-based and some are event-driven. Check out the Slack-bot-users tutorial for the further information.
Collecting and reporting business information is a time-consuming and error-sensitive job. Our bots parse the information automatically on the easy form. For instance, the bots list the utilization rates, sales opportunities, and crucial marketing data. See the most readable blogpost-chatbot in action below:
As humans, we tend to forget things. The chatbots provide advice if the user has forgotten to record working hours, worked too much, or has not sent a bill to the customer. See our chatbot quoting Napoleon below:
The ‘hot member’ of our bots’ army is the train-ticket-chatbot. Originally created in our Hackathon event by Harri Hämäläinen, this chatbot helps people to buy season train tickets more quickly and efficiently. See how the chatbot survives the customer service duty:
Dad, Could I Have my Own Chatbot?
Can you use chatbots in your business? Definitely! Firstly, analyse what annoying tasks your workers or customers do regularly. Secondly, decide how to use chatbots. Chatbots’ natural habitats are in messaging applications such as Slack, Yammer, or other messaging tools. Lastly, find few skilled developers and explain the use case. Remember to give the developers enough access rights, since chatbots most likely integrate into your existing systems.
The ultimate goal is to let chatbots take care of all manual and repetitive work in our company. We are not there yet, but the target is achievable. Chatbots allow people focus on what they do best – solving complex problems.
Thanks to these awesome people who brought our bots to life:
- Joonas Itkonen
- Mikael Harju
- Harri Hämäläinen
- Juuso Meriläinen
- Antti Tohmo
- Joona Romppanen
- Jesper Skand
- Timo Nikkilä
- Marko Wallin
- Peter Kronström
Slack is one of the biggest cloud-based collaboration tool. Slack supports channels, direct messages, file sharing, and calls. Slack endless integration possibilities makes it the perfect tool for chatbots.