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7 things marketing pros need to know about chatbots

James A. Martin | Oct. 14, 2016
Digital marketing experts share insight and advice on how CMOs and other marketing pros can get started with — and make the most of — chatbots.

"While these sounds like obvious safeguards, unfortunately, it's not that simple," Baker continues. "An in-house bot that runs on an organization's system can be set up on a private, encrypted channel. But if an organization wishes to deploy a chatbot on a public channel, like a messaging app, it's at the mercy of that platform's security capabilities."

Other potential chatbot security issues also exist. "As chatbots become better at imitating humans, the technology will be used by hackers in phishing schemes and other social engineering hacks," Baker says. "For example, a chatbot designed to imitate a customer or vendor could strike up a conversation with an employee through a messaging app. After rapport has been established, the chatbot could entice the employee to click on a malicious link or hand over sensitive information."

Chatbot support, budgeting and ownership

"Bots require a lot of testing and support," Slone says. Most IT teams have the chatbot developers handle that work, but they don't necessarily have the resources to support the bot after it goes live. "Don't underestimate the amount of support that's involved in launching a successful bot."

Also, because chatbots "typically cross the entire customer lifecycle, companies that are silo-ed may face internal budgeting and ownership issues, as bots cross these silos," Slone says.

Bots aren't often among IT's core competencies 

"The biggest challenge for creating useful chatbots is in the underlying technologies and in the integration with enterprise systems," says Sanjay Aggarwal, a venture capitalist at F-Prime Capital Partners and a chatbot expert. 

Natural language processing and predictive analytics, which are core to making bots useful, are "not core competencies for most IT departments," according to Aggarwal. Brand chatbots also "must directly integrate into the relevant systems of record for the company," including CRM, help-desk and order-processing systems, he says. "The IT department must take a holistic view of the technology architecture so that the chatbot can be seamlessly integrated into the overall communication architecture of the company, as opposed to being a separate bolt-on solution." 


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