4 mins read — Jun 5, 2017

Bots or Not? Looking at the Potential for Bot Integration


by Sing Li

Bots or Not? Looking at the Potential for Bot Integration

Bots have been around forever, and they continue to be somewhat imperfect. For those who aren’t clued up on bots, here is what you need to know. They are programs that let you carry out “conversations” (ie. type a question or command) and get an answer or accomplish your goal from within the app.

Generally speaking, bots that are currently being developed are nowhere near the Westworld-level of AI that we may have hoped we’d have by now, but many platforms are creating bot integrations that are useful and help streamline processes in one way or another.

Most bots are not going to pass the Turing test but they do provide an alternative to, for example, spending time looking something up, which provides some interesting opportunities for automating tasks within your organization (and ours).

Even though there are limits to what can be achieved, using bots to automate repetitive or daily tasks for our users (team chat users and developers) is something we’re very interested in doing. There are a number of bots that already exist that we could integrate, or build, or that our users might like to build.

Some bot functions we think could be beneficial to RC users, to use in-chat are:

Set reminders Bots are handy for quickly setting a reminder, for example if you’re discussing something and want to return to the topic in a few weeks’ time. You could potentially set up reminders for yourself, or for your whole team with a typed command within the chat.

Keep notes. All of your chats are logged, but if you know that a specific part of a conversation is going to be useful later and don’t want to have to hunt for what you need, a bot could allow you to post specific notes to a stored file, either for your own use or for shared functions (like creating meeting minutes).

Send part of a chat to your phone. You could create a quick snippet and text it to yourself, or someone else, or everyone on your team. I find myself doing this with bits of info now and again, to ensure I don’t forget to address them later in the day, but it could also be a way to achieve very quick, direct comms with your team.

Search for an existing dev solution. For developers, you’re not sure whether a solution to your issue exists, a bot command could seek it out for you, or find solutions to similar problems.

Tech support. Just a quick way to answer FAQs: either FAQs about how to use Rocket.Chat or FAQs that your organization receives internally.

Faster screen-sharing/voice calling. Just a quick typed command and you’d be in.

Doc search. Again, just a quicker way to find the info you need, either in the Rocket.Chat documentation or in your own shared company files.

Train staff. Simplify onboarding and integrate it more seamlessly with ongoing comms.

Security bot. Keep tabs on what’s being shared, and notify admins if anything fishy is going on.

Conversation search. Users could potentially search by phrase for a conversation in your team’s log if you’re not sure where it is or can’t remember who said it or in what context. The benefit over regular log search is being able to do it from within an ongoing chat. 

Natural Language Processing (NLP). This kind of comes with the territory, but NLP helps bots figure out what you mean whether or not you recall the exact syntax of the command you need. Projects like IBM Watson and Google API are improving this tech all the time (and Rocket.Chat has already begun to make use of it via integrating with the APIs).  

But your opinions and thoughts matter more than ours. Do you think your team would benefit from being able to carry out these tasks more quickly? Which tasks are most needed?

If we’ve missed a function you think is important and could be improved with a bot, tell us what it is!

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