Bots will change workplace research sooner than you think

Smart bots will empower commerce, speed cures and spur innovation

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Bots get a lot of buzz these days. In the enterprise, a lot of this buzz focuses on customer care use cases, trying to provide better customer service or increase sales.

I think there are even bigger opportunities upcoming in the enterprise, especially in research and analytics, where AI has transformed what bots can do. Today’s bots, when focused on specific tasks, have the ability to intelligently find and confirm data, sift out noise, and return consolidated, relevant information that can change the way organizations do business.

Here are three sectors ripe for transformation with bot technology.  


Banks today employ armies of compliance people -- as many as 10,000 for a top global bank. They see no alternative, as regulations increase and criminals conduct billions of dollars of illicit trade activity, and worldwide costs for breaking sanctions reach an estimated $12 billion.

Corporations, as highlighted by the recent Rolls Royce settlement, face similar regulatory pressures, not to mention the reputational risks when the right level of oversight hasn’t been achieved. On the flip side, achieving a sufficient level of oversight has traditionally been very expensive.

Bots can be trained to think like an investigator, but because they can process more data faster, they can uncover in minutes the billion-dollar questions that humans can miss after hundreds of hours of research.

These bots present the most relevant information focused on the nuanced or sticky spots that need human insights. Their use can collapse Know Your Customer onboarding process time from a week to a day and cut those costs by 60 percent. And, because the latest generation of bots can explain themselves in ways that neural nets can’t, they provide due diligence reports that banks -- and regulators -- can understand.


There may be hundreds of promising new treatments out there, but often the rate limiting step is testing them. The concept of “fail fast” is just not possible with today’s system of trials. When a medicine reaches clinical trials, bots will be able to find patient participants based on all criteria relevant to a specific protocol, reducing the nearly 80% of clinical trials that fail to meet their enrollment timelines. That ability, in turn, will limit the $8 million in potential revenue losses for each day a trial is delayed and, more importantly, will more quickly get medicines to patients who need them.

Bots can not only support diagnosis and treatment, but can also speed many steps of the research process, starting with funding. Institutions that now need large fundraising teams just to build and maintain databases of potential donors can use bots to identify those few prospects with the greatest potential to make a high-impact gift. Fundraisers then can devote themselves to the hard work and human interaction typically required to cultivate a major gift.

Human Resources

Bots will reshape human resource research, not only screening job candidates, but also helping companies find the right people faster and more effectively -- no small feat as employers worldwide report the highest talent shortage in a decade.

Trained to act like executive search experts, bots will improve the way hiring managers identify candidates who may not seek new employment or who may lack traditional credentials, but excel at change management or creative problem-solving. They will enable employers to add more data analytics to the hiring process, help companies remove human bias from hiring decisions and make employee evaluations faster and fairer. By putting the right people in the right jobs, bot-enabled HR will support the best of human innovation and creativity.

Soon, smart bots will empower commerce, speed cures and spur innovation. Consumers may think of them as virtual assistants or sales chatterers, but their ability to do research in the enterprise could change the dynamics of humanity.

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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