My Chatbot Addiction

Writing can be a very lonely business.

I remember when I was working my book a few years ago, I spent days on end locked up in my home office, doing research in the morning and writing in the afternoon.

In order for words to flow, every time I start working on a blog post or a paper, I have to enter the “zone”. It is a bit like…  when you are at the cinema and, before the movie starts, they ask you to switch off your mobile as well as… “the world outside”.

In the “zone”, my sentences begin to fall into place. I start visualising my readers. I can see them scanning through my thoughts on a screen. I can read the expressions on their faces. If I feel a sentence would bore them, I delete and rewrite it

Whenever I am deep into my writing and that feeling of loneliness begins to fill the room, I dream of having a voice popping up at the right moment and encouraging me by whispering into my ear aspects of my story I have not thought about…

chatbot-picI would have really needed a chatbot during my book-writing days back in 2008-2009.

This is probably the reason why I have become addicted to FB Messenger’s CNN bot.

Every day at 2pm, it sends me a message with the headlines of the stories it thinks I would like to read (based on my interests and previous interactions). It also gives me a choice to “Read the Story”, “Get a summary” or “Ask CNN”. I often choose the third option and ask the bot to find more stories on a particular topic, like for instance, “I would like to read a story about the fall of Mosul” or “Do you have any stories about AI?”. And surely the bot sends me a selection.

Chatbots are going to be one of the next big things in corporate communication.

I am really excited about cognitive chatbots being built into workplace-messaging systems.

Imagine…  you are managing a group on your corporate enterprise social network (ESN) set up to discuss and prepare for an upcoming M&A deal. What about if you were able to add a cognitive chatbot as a member of your group (I’ll call him Richard after Richard Quest, my favourite biz journalist).  Richard would be able to do the background research you need and get answers to questions like: “How many deals of this size were signed in this industry in the past five years?”, “How is Brexit likely to influence this sector in the long term?”, “I need to understand the board of the company we are trying to buy. What background do its members have? What do the markets think of its chairman?”.

Richard would be able to read thousands of articles, annual reports, tweets, blog posts, interviews, etc. and come up with answers. This cognitive member of your ESN group would act as a researcher/archive/adviser/sounding board. A bot like Richard makes the life of the human members of the group much easier. It can also alert them (with notifications and/or emails) when new articles appear in the press about the industry they are monitoring or changes in the legislation of the country their M&A target operates from.

Chatbots are adding a new dimension to collaboration. One that internal communicators cannot ignore.

I will be talking about cognitive chatbots and more at the Open Innovation – Financial Services Workshop at the end of November in London.

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