Recently many MSPs and partners attended a lecture on “How to Throw an Election” discussing bots with the notorious Tcat. The well-attended event was to further our technology conversations beyond the LAN and even MSP land. The context was actually SECURITY and that is always a crowd pleaser. Funny thing is, an election bot rehash article emerged here just as I was writing the blog. If anything, this report from the NY Daily News is interesting.
But the real reason we’re here is to talk business bots. A tip of the hat to Sage (the accounting software firm) for hosting a one-day bot “BOTlanta” workshop in Atlanta as part of the Sage Summit 2017 conference (in part this made me think about the above Tcat lecture). “At BOTlanta, Sage’s chief of AI and bots, Kriti Sharma, will outline the importance of establishing a bot code of ethics and provide an interactive step-by-step guide on how to create a bot of your own.” This free day-long workshop was open to the Atlanta community. Bravo!
The Bot Chick: Kriti Sharma
At the Sage Summit keynote, Sharma introduced PEGG, a voice chat bot that resides on the Amazon Echo device. Beyond cool, you can use the most natural interface of all (voice) to manage the Sage One cloud-based accounting system. For example, you can as management reporting questions such as “How much does Microsoft owe me?” You can watch the keynote speech here as I shot a point of view (POV) vid (see below).
Now the good stuff. I had 1:1 interview with Sharma (“the bot chick”) after her bot presentation. First Sharma clarified that Pegg was launched as a chat bot for Facebook messenger and Skype. You could essentially type commands. At Sage Summit 2017, the voice portion of the Pegg chat bot was introduced. Point well taken.
“We use analytics to help design and improve Pegg. It’s the only way.” Shared Sharma. “Over 20,000 people are using Pegg and we can discover new features that people want. Our development time using a chat bot is much faster than traditional application development.” She emphasized voice integration as a way to get more tasks done and “open up the industry to a new wave of users who don’t have accounting expertise.”
Interestingly, Pegg is best thought of as having strengths in management reporting and revenue side transactions such as issuing an invoice. “You can’t trigger a payment from Pegg as we haven’t built a global payment solution yet.” Sharma added. “So security isn’t that different from a keyboard or mobile interface. We don’t want to give an account balance without some type of voice signature.”
Finally, I asked her if the industry is “early” with artificial intelligence with the likes of IBM Watson, Amazon Alexa and now Pegg. “Yes and no. The way I see it is that Watson and Alexa are very general. Pegg is solving a use case defined for a particular industry. And I want to speak of ethics. Bots should not pretend to be humans.” Sharma concluded. With that, refer back to paragraph one concerning Twitter bots and elections.