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At the recent Ariba Live customer conference in APJ, our CTO, Dinesh Shahane, showcase the use of AI and Bots in the context of procurement solutions. What is the power of such capabilities, and why are the so compelling?

In today’s busy world, we all want things instantanteously. A bot is a software application that runs scripts to perform certain tasks. Layer that with the ability to use natural language processing and chat messages, and it becomes as easy as conversing with someone. And through intelligence and training, the accuracy of getting to the right information keeps increasing over time. Chatbots can help us navigate o the exact information we need right at our fingertips. As people move from desktop environments to mobile devices and now messaging frameworks, bots allow us to bring information into the very tools that people use on a daily basis.

Many bots started in the consumer space, with applications such as ordering flowers (1-800-flowers via facebook messenger), ordering food (Domino’s, Taco Bell, McDonald’s, etc.), travel (KLM, Alaska Airlines, Amtrak) and many others. Companies like Microsfot, Facebooks, Google are investing in this space, and touting this technology as the future. According to Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, “chatbots will fundamentally revolutionize computing”.

How about in the enterprise space? Bots can serve as assistants to aid you in getting access to key information, in providing better customers service to your customers, and lots more. While many people are still talking about this, we at Ariba have already started to build some of this. Check out Dinesh’s presentation http://techarp.com/articles/new-future-sap-ariba-features-revealed/ (watch from min 12:30 onwards), to see how this technology can be of immediate value in a procurement solution. We even created an eventbot for the conference, with a company called Gupshup (www.gupshup.io), that allows immediate access to event information the second you need it via facebook messenger – something I used many times during the event.

From an enterprise perspective the possibilities are endless. Imagine if you could interact wiht a chat message to complete your approval worksflows, file expenses, request leave, create IT tickets, understand your budget status, derive sales reports, order your supplies – all through a conversation with your phone. Amazing! I for one am excited about what this may mean for the future of enterprise apps.

Special thanks to Tony Seiler (MBA student, USC) for his contribution to this post

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