By Bobby Cude, nQativ Project Manager
Perhaps you’ve heard the increasing hype about “Bots”, “Process Automation”, and “Digital Assistants”. While many see such terms as the latest buzzwords du jour, evidence is mounting that such systems provide value and are here to stay. Just as the robotic assembly line revolutionized production by increasing output while improving quality, Automation—whether in the form of a robot, a shortcut, or a script—gives you the opportunity to perform oft-repeated tasks quickly and error-free.
Here are some examples:
• Siri takes your request to find out what time a movie starts and tells you the results, keeping you from having to type and view on a small screen. Additionally, “she” can book the tickets for you.
• Scripts in ERP systems take repeated tasks, such as recurring transactions, and replicate them faster than a user ever could, saving countless hours.
• The HealthTap bot in Facebook Messenger provides real-time health advice from real doctors, all through a chat-like interface.
• A “Chipotle Button” app for Apple Watch allow you to press a button and immediately place an order for your favorite southwestern-style tortilla wrap or bowl.
These tools each have the capability to take computing to the next level – breaking down that invisible barrier between machine and user to make your day easier.
When evaluating the automation capabilities of a tool, device, or site you plan to use, we suggest you remember the four following areas:
• Privacy – Is the “bot” collecting information about me? Am I likely to provide sensitive information during the course of my interaction with the tool? If so, carefully consider if the risk is worth the benefit. Pay close attention to the reputation of the vendor and whether you trust them with your information.
• Ease of Use – Does your automation device constantly confuse your requests for “coffee” with “toffee”? Is the means of interaction straightforward and easy to use? If the technology is difficult to use, you are less likely to use it to your advantage.
• Extensibility – If the automation tool you’re looking at only allows you to do one or two limited things, it is not likely to provide long-term value for you. Look for tools that give you the capability to create your own custom commands or workflows and allow you to accommodate future needs.
• Time Savings – This is the real litmus test for bots and automation. Ask yourself, “Does this technology really make my life better?” If you can answer “yes” because a certain script saves you 15 minutes each day, then you know you’ve got something of real value. Otherwise, it’s probably just a neat gimmick.
Used properly, Bots and Automation represent a real breakthrough not just in computing, but in other areas of your workday. If you adhere to the guidelines we listed, there is practically no limit to what you can do to streamline your day and get that precious time back for what’s really important.