2017 was a year of chatbots. I posted about chatbots a year ago in my article Will chatbots simplify user experience? My assumption was that PLM complexity can justify development of PLM chatbots. I even know the company in PLM space that did it. But I was wrong… PLM workflow experience might be bad, but chatbots will not make it different. So, here is my “rethinking” story about chatbots. It was inspired by the article from Unified Inbox – What future holds for chatbots. The article brings some interesting data points:
Picture the scene, you want to find out information about a product/service and contact the business on Facebook, very often this happens out for hours for a business. For many, this can be the bain of their lives. With chatbots such as HubSpot, you can connect, refine, understand and deliver to customers no matter the time of day – The 24/7 customer service format in real life.
Chatbots can be used to help provide terrific customer service and interactions no matter the time. Unfortunately, we’re still in an era where many brands don’t respond to customer inquiries. Chatbots will help overcome this, giving businesses a great addition to the value of their services.
Chatbots and AI go hand in hand. When harnessed right they can be a terrific asset for a business. In fact, there are currently 100,000 being used on Facebook Messenger, up nearly 70,000 from 2016. Improving the experience of people is one of the USPs of chatbots, and this goes for not only customer service but also the employee experience as well.
The same article compares chatbot with local store owner- she knows everything you like, before you do; she has unique personality and she knows and loves her product.
It made me think about interesting value chatbot can bring in PLM domain. PLM systems can create chatbots for the products manufacturing companies are creating. Yes… those products that developed and manufactured using the same PLM systems. Chatbot will be created as part of Product documentation service and it will become part of product documentation. PLM chatbot will provide a service for product customers using cars, airplanes, phones, etc. You don’t know how to use your fridge? Talk to PLM fridge chatbot. You don’t know when is car maintenance? Ask car chatbot. You don’t know how to change a filter in air conditioner, ask chatbot. When I bough a car, I’ve got car user manual. I never open that book, but when I needed info about how to do something with my car, I was searching for video on Google. Here is a thing – chatbots will become a new way to document products for customers.
You can ask me how is it connected to PLM. Here is the thing.. most of product behavior is impossible without information about the product itself. This product self-knowledge combined with deep understanding of product internals from design, engineering and manufacturing will create a new experience for products.
What is my conclusion? PLM chatbots will become part of product documentation and experience. They will know all manufacturing and engineering information, maintenance rules ,parts and components. They will be able to answer on customer questions and help to improve products. Sounds crazy? Maybe today it is. But it 10 years every product will come with their own chatbot available to users or programmable using IT for maintenance, service and education. Just my thoughts…
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Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.