In my previous post I looked at how I believe Professional Ecosystems are the future of work and learning, and how organisations (and L&D) might support them.

In this post I want to look at how individuals might make use of chatbots to build smart Professional Ecosystems, and how organisations might use them to provide intelligent access to their own content and services as well as offer personalised support to individuals.

Why chatbots?

First a bit of background: two things have happened recently that are considered to be big turning points.

Firstly, use of mobile devices has now exceeded use of desktop machines to access the Internet, and secondly, people are now spending more time in messaging apps than in social networks.  This has led to predictions that messaging apps are destined to be the platforms of the future, but more than that, it is also considered that it will be through bots rather than apps that users will access all sorts of services.

In fact some go as far as to say that bots will cause a “near term disruption in how businesses interact with customers, and a long term paradigm shift in how people will interact with machines“.

What actually is a bot?

A bot, or as it is more commonly known, a chatbot, is a piece of software that’s designed to simulate a conversation with a (human) user in the interest of giving you information that you want or enable you to complete a transaction (source).

Conversational or chat bots, often make use of artificial intelligence and natural language processing technologies, and they’ve been around for some time. Take for instance, Alice and Evie. Their purpose is also to learn from you as they chat with you so that they can provide you with better answers to your questions.It is true that a lot of the mobile chatbots that are to be found in messaging platforms are very primitive in comparison, as they only offer a strict set of preset commands to connect with a user. In other words they won’t “understand” anything outside of that command set, so, they certainly wouldn’t pass the Turing Test. But even these simple bots can provide some useful functionality, in as much as they can offer a level of automation or personalisation to content and services that was not so easily achievable before – for example they can make it easier to find something without having to do a Web search, or open up multiple apps.

It’s clearly early days for bots, so this is just the beginning of what it is going to be possible in the future.

How you can incorporate bots into your Professional Ecosystem?

Well, you could use them to interface intelligently with the content and service providers you already use (as I highlight on the diagram (right) I used in my previous post). Examples of their use might therefore be to ..search for relevant or customised content (or courses) on say YouTube, Wikipedia or Courserar eceive relevant or customised news automatically (from news sources, blogs feeds, Twitter accounts)receive customised productivity support (e.g. alerts, reminders, etc)or to have an intelligent personal assistant (like Viv, which goes beyond the capabilities of current personal assistants like Siri and Cortona)

Where can you find bots?

More and more messaging apps are supporting bots, e.g. Facebook Messenger, Slack, Kik, WeChat, Skype and Telegram. There are even SMS bots, and Microsoft, Apple and Google are working on them too. (Note: WhatsApp doesn’t (yet?) have a bot platform)

Read all : The Future of Work and Learning 2: Chatbots | Learning in the Modern Social Workplace

Author: Jane Hart

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