Risk Aversion for Robots
One thing I learned as a computer engineering student (and as my father’s son) is that a very important part of engineering is clarifying what a product does not do. In the engineer’s risk-centric world, avoiding risks may be more important than what a product really does. So much of the time developing or designing a product we ask ourselves “What is this thing supposed to do?” We consult with our clients, making sure not to miss a feature or special function. It is usually when a product does something or does something so horribly that we find ourselves called in on the carpet explaining what went wrong.
If nothing at all happens when we hit the start button then that elicits the Hippocratic method; Above all do no harm. If the car starts and drives through the front of a Quickie-Mart then the Hippocratic car rules have just been smashed along with all the sodas, chips and cans of Dinty Moore stew. This set of examples drives the engineering and business field of risk-analysis. Software developers operate under the same guidelines. However, in software such as web development a lot of risk assessment is seen as resistance to getting something on the screen which is generating leads and converting visitors into customers.
Support bots and virtual assistants operate under the same rules as everyone else. They must weigh the advantages of a risk assessment strategy along with the cost of producing one and seeing it through. The difference for chatbots is that they may be performing the tech support duties along with the lead generation and sales. A chatbot can act as a singular collaborative team with perfect communication skills balancing the requirements in real time. We have all heard of a marketer promising the world and the production team scrambling like mad to make something that resembles the incredible promise. The chatbot working both ends of a deal may think twice before overly bragging. Additionally, the well programmed chatbot can be made to consider quotas and return on investment (ROI) metrics while it is effortlessly chatting up a customer and flashing photos of kittens and puppies.
As we can see, chatbots can take an integral role in balancing risk aversion tactics with the need to convert sales and pay the rent. We will always need people to make the rules and deeply consider what is best for our business and clients. Luckily, we will soon be embracing bots for their remarkable ability to see the big picture and play by the rules. The added plus is: It will be safer to loiter in the magazine aisle in Quickie-Marts.