Are you ever tired of all the so-called disruptive technologies that business leaders keep asking you to implement? It’s great to see so much innovation that can impact your business—but sometimes you just want the IT infrastructure to remain stable for a little while.
So, when you hear Microsoft’s Harry Shum, executive vice president of AI and research, say “We are infusing AI into every product and service we offer, from Xbox to Windows, from Bing to Office. AI is going to disrupt every single business app,” you might have mixed feelings.
Before you roll your eyes at yet another disruptive technology, it’s important to understand the advantages of these new bots (and how to make sure they don’t hurt the end-user experience).
What Office 365 Bots Mean for Your Business
When Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella declared that bots are the new apps in 2016, we were just on the cusp of their popularity. But once Facebook jumped in headfirst, there was an explosion of chatbots in consumer-facing messaging apps.
For IT pros wondering what to make of Office 365 bots, it’s important to look beyond the social use cases for artificial intelligence. Think about how chatbots can make a difference for your employees:
- Easier Access to Data: Office 365 bots will have total access to your deep database of contact information and files. Rather than having employees waste time searching for the right information, a chatbot can help them make faster, more informed decisions.
- More Efficient Collaboration: Breaking down IT silos is a major focus for companies looking to grow more agile and adapt to disruptive technology like AI. But as long as these silos still exist, employees will see friction in collaboration (even with a powerful product like Office 365). Chatbots in the productivity suite will make it easier for employees to stay on the same page during collaborative projects.
- Increased Business Productivity: How much time does your sales team spend doing menial tasks like followups and administrative processes? Chatbots could take over many smaller tasks and free up your employees to tackle more complicated problems.
These are just a few high-level benefits of greater access to AI in Office 365. None of them will matter without employee buy-in, though. While AI has been in the works for years, there’s been a great deal of skepticism around the technology. When you introduce new computing-intensive chatbots to your IT network and no one uses them, you never have to worry about performance problems.
Now, AI is going mainstream and this skepticism is falling away. And as bots become integral tools for all employees, you’ll have more pressure on your shoulders to maintain a high-quality end-user experience.
A Word of Caution for Office 365 Bots
Two benefits of using chatbots (from a technical standpoint) are low-bandwidth usage and the ability to work over SMS and without an internet connection. If these two advantages work as advertised, it’s easy to get caught thinking you don’t have to worry about them on your network.
However, you should consider one of Microsoft’s emerging use cases—video bots in Skype. The videoconferencing features of Office 365 already put a strain on your network, but what happens when these video bots take off?
One potential use case is for employees to have a Skype video bot acting as a personal assistant. Imagine what would happen to application performance and end-user experience if every employee was using video chat almost all day. There’s no doubt that increased reliance on AI will make your IT infrastructure even more complicated than it already is. Are you prepared to keep the network in check?
The increased use of AI in Office 365 is just one thing to keep in mind as you focus on maximizing end-user experience. There’s a lot to think about if you want to keep business productivity on track in these days of quickly emerging technologies.
Download our free white paper, 14 Metrics to Optimize End-User Experience, for more information about keeping an eye on your network amidst disruption.