2016 was the “year of the bot”. Have you heard this phrase tossed around the web development community recently? Bots are dope! From chat apps that intuitively help set reminders, to online shopping assistants that snag the perfect deals, bots are gaining traction everywhere. Coupled with the rapid expansion of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), there’s been a massive influx of new applications, technologies, and ways to coalesce with them.
So, Why Bots?
Bots are becoming the cornerstone of this new landscape for their flexibility in handling many of these unique integrations. They allow developers to wrap complex API interactions into convenient and familiar interfaces, that are ultimately more enjoyable to communicate with. A great example of the bots’ ubiquitous rise to power can be seen in the recent popularity of messaging app Slack, and the expansive amount of third party integrations being developed for it.
Thanks to popular bots like Siri, Cortana, and the new Echo, we’ve seen first-hand that that informational transactions within a conversational UI is not only easier, but much more comfortable for the end user. This is because users only want the information they require. It’s painfully inefficient to navigate a myriad of links or menus, and bots are able to take that monotony out of the equation. Let’s not forget about major companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, that have followed suit by updating their APIs to allow for more advanced integrations. Facebook Messenger’s platform update last April expanded the support to chatbots and third party apps. With all this dust being kicked up, the bots are ushering in a new era of accelerated interaction – and Samanage is at the forefront implementing meaningful bots.
Heads up slackers, Samanage inbound!
We are excited to announce that we will be launching our very own Service Desk integration for Slack! At Samanage, we love Slack — it has vastly improved communication, transparency, camaraderie, and, most importantly, productivity throughout the worldwide company. Seeing as there has yet to emerge any truly remarkable service desk apps in the Slack marketplace, we saw an opportunity too excellent to pass up.
…But What is it?
Colloquially referred to as ‘Marty,’ the Service Desk for Slack is our very own Slack API integration to be released on the Slack Marketplace early 2017. It will allow end users to install a custom bot integration to their team’s channel that will interact with their company’s Samanage Service Desk environment, in real-time, through an intuitive conversational interface.
A Bot You Say?
Hell yea a bot! Isn’t that what we’ve been talking about here? Marty provides a whole new level of intelligence and agility in delivering information by helping to enhance workflows through simplification and automation of redundant tasks, such as escalating a support ticket or looking up a community post for quick answers. In the context of the Samanage Service Desk, this means faster resolution times, streamlined reactivity, and higher satisfaction for the user.
What is the coolness factor?
Slack has become the perfect testing ground for developing and deploying custom integrations. They make it incredibly easy and provide excellent support, so we intend to throw the kitchen sink at this thing. Developed in Node.js, with the help of Howdy AI’s incredibly powerful Botkit framework, our Service Desk app utilizes Api.ai’s natural language processing to create an intelligent bot user that responds to messages, both direct and ambient, in real-time. This allows Slackers to orchestrate an incredible variety of tasks, like checking or changing the status of an incident, submitting service requests, and updating or commenting on tickets, from the convenience of one interface as if they were interacting with a regular service tech. When compounded with Api.ai’s machine learning, the bot will actually grow and develop to that team’s specific use case and language, saving loads of time and repetition for employees and technicians alike.
Look to the Future, Marty
Currently, Marty’s primary focus will be on support tickets and the interactions surrounding them from both user endpoints. However, it is entirely possible that the scope of functionality could be expanded in the near future to include asset management, benchmarking, and even importing and exporting files or reports. There is also the potential to integrate Marty into the variety of open API messenger apps out there, such as Google Chat or Facebook Messenger. With innovations like Marty coming to fruition, the future of IT and service management is looking incredibly intelligent, slightly artificial, and ever so bright.