Filtering by Tag: SCIENCE

The employee communications bots are coming. Chat with me if you want to live.

I mentioned in a recent post on my blog that I had my first conversation with an artificial intelligence (AI) named Eliza during the 80s, when the greatest exposure most of us had to AI was at the movies. (Bonus points if you can name the movie I referenced in the subtitle to this post). Today, you can find AI in the form of chatbots popping up everywhere, from the operating system of your mobile phone and Facebook Messenger to web sites and, very soon, in the business communicator’s toolbox.

Chatbots are limited AI applications that are typically text based and designed to handle very basic inquiries about a well-defined body of knowledge, using plain-language (or nearly so) to have something that resembles a human conversation. Companies are already using chatbots for a wide variety of tasks, from customer service to technical support and even teen fashion advice.

Any new technology is, unfortunately, often met with skepticism by business communications professionals (especially those of us of, ahem, a certain age), and chatbots are no exception. While some communications thought leaders are diving in with both feet, (thank you, Shel Holtz) the vast majority of us working in internal communications are still typing away, creating employee newsletters and curating intranet content to be hosted on SharePoint version 44 B.C.

As they did with social media, the marketing department is off and running with chatbot technology, and it’s time for internal communicators to catch up. The question is, how can communications professionals leverage this technology in the workplace? To help you get your creative juices flowing, here are a seven ideas of how to use chatbots to improve employee communications.

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Disintermediation: Applying science to art

To some extent, this is a blog post about a blog post. But it’s also about a larger concept that has relevance to both communicators and other professionals who are experts in fields that rely upon being highly skilled in human interaction.

The blog post is a very short one, written by Ari Meisel on his ‘Less Doing, More Living’ blog. It outlines a very simple process by which he, a small business owner, has created a mostly-automated, high-quality way to screen and hire applicants for roles at his company. Take a few minutes to read the blog post now.

The greater concept Ari is leveraging here beyond simple automation of some tasks, which he is insanely good at doing, is called disintermediation (link goes to the Wikipedia definition). Whether you realize it or not, your job has been in danger of disappearing due to disintermediation since the dawn of the information age. For a long time, marketers, HR professionals, and communicators have told themselves that the ‘art’ portion of their profession would insulate them from automation, optimization, outsourcing, and other corporate cost-cutting solutions that rely on technology.

If you still think that way, it’s time to get acquainted with disintermediation. In non-economic terms, think of it as cutting out the middle-person.

Oh, and by the way, that middle person is probably you.

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The new 'three R's' for business communicators

To say that the organizational communications landscape is changing quickly would be an understatement. Just as communications professionals are wrapping their heads (or not) around social and collaborative communications tools, the rise of video-based messaging and communicating in the ‘there’s an app for that’ era, an entire new wave of technologies and ways of doing business are poised to completely reinvent business communications. 

We all know that messaging, audience targeting and measurement – PR and internal communications fundamentals that are our version of ‘reading, writing and arithmetic’ – are still the foundation of impactful communications campaigns. But how we apply them is rapidly evolving. To be effective – or even relevant – in this new era, communications professionals will need to embrace a new set of skills based upon what I’m calling the new “three R’s” for early twenty-first century communications: Reach, Robotics and Realities.

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The four trends communicators can’t afford to ignore

In 1994, I was just starting my career in training and development and was admonished by a conference speaker to “get wired or get fired.” Today I think we’ve reached the same crossroads in communications. Those who embrace both these trends and the technologies that drive them will flourish, while those who prefer to stick to established models are going to be left behind.

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Developing a business focus: A checklist for communicators

In a recent article that I developed for Melcrum Communications, I wrote about the ongoing concern internal communicators have about getting a 'seat at the table.' My assertion was, consultative and communications skills aside, more and more leaders expect you to demonstrate a real understanding of the business you are in to be seen as a credible trusted communications advisor.

How can communicators who do not have a business education come up to speed on the concepts they need to know in order to be credible in strategic communications roles?

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