SAP Chatbots

Bots are the new apps! Is this really true? Will the Bots eat the Apps? Will the Apps go the traditional camera way?

Baa Baa App Stores
Have you any Apps?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
3 phone screens full;
One for the master data,
And one for the dashboard,
And one for the little sales toy
Who lives in the cloud.

There is an app for everything! Desktop apps, Web apps, and Mobile apps. Do we really need so many apps? Do I need an app to alert me about a new sales lead? Do I need an app to get my sales summary? Do I need an app to approve a sales document?

Apps were supposed to make information access easier. But building dedicated apps for simple scenarios has resulted in overload of apps, displacement of information all over the place and app fatigue. Apps are better served when they cover a wide range of functionalities. Example: Field service app where a technician can access all the work orders and related information in one place. But does it mean that we give that app to everybody who wants to report a problem in the plant? It is an overkill.

This is where Bots step in. Bots are micro-apps that make information access contextual. Alerting a user about a new sales document from SAP inside iMessage in iPhone or inside Skype. Allowing action on the sales document from the iMessage or Skype. Using Siri or Cortana to get the latest Sales Summary from Salesforce.com.

Bots vs. Apps is not about Superman vs. Batman. It is judicious use of both to help people communicate better with enterprise systems. Bots replace Apps in the following scenarios:

  1. When people communication and information from enterprise systems need to be brought together for better decision making
  2. Ease of access to alerts and follow-up actions
  3. Voice based conversations without user interface
  4. Help people achieve a lot from the same interface keeping it conversational

If you consider Bots as micro-apps then the Apps are just getting a new skin and structure blending with conversations. Hey! Someone has to still build an app to host a bot even if the app is Siri or Cortana or some other voice agent!

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