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How To Decide Whether Automation via Bots Is Right For Your Application

For every moment a customer is engaging with digital products and services online, there are untold numbers of variables that have to be managed behind the scenes in order to deliver the best possible experience. 

Think of a person searching for car insurance online as an example. As they navigate through websites or apps to determine the right coverage, there are modules within an application that might be used to help them check rates, calculate any discounts available to them or search queries to check for driving violations.

Customers might not even be aware of these behind-the-scenes activities in a digital experience, but for those on the sales, marketing or product side, it’s essential that they be managed quickly, easily and accurately. 

Traditionally, this has meant developing an admin panel that can be monitored by the team on an ongoing basis. If someone orders a pizza, for instance, an admin panel might be the place where the restaurant can ensure ingredients they’re no longer offering are pulled from an online menu.

While admin panels make sense from a product development point of view, companies may not even realize they have another option. By using bots, businesses can automate many of the back-end tasks of a digital experience, freeing up team members to focus on other areas. 

When people hear the term “bots,” of course, their first thought might be a chatbot, which some companies deploy on their website to have online conversations with customers.

In this case, though, the bots aren’t visible to consumers but make use of application programming interfaces (APIs) to connect key aspects of the digital experience and integrate with other applications as needed. 

Despite the promise and potential they offer, there isn’t a lot of information readily available to help companies understand the differences between admin panels and bots, and how they should decide on one or the other.

This post is an attempt to help fill that void. 

Where Admin Panels Have Been Used To Date 

Companies have made use of admin panels in a variety of ways. In some cases they might look like a dashboard that allows them to see that the business rules they’ve set up for an application are performing as they should. 

A bank might use an admin panel as it rolls out cheque imaging services for its customers, for instance. When a customer snaps an image of a check with their smartphone and uses a banking app to deposit it, an admin panel would provide the bank’s team with a view of all the critical steps involved.

These could include artificial intelligence (AI) technology to read the content from the photograph of the cheque, validating the account information and so on. 

Admin panels can also be used to pull up statistics or other data that are required by business users. In other cases admin panels allow the team to intervene in a process.

Those working for a social media platform might get an alert that a user has violated their terms of service, for example, at which point a review committee needs to either block the user or dismiss the alert. 

The Benefits Bots Can Bring 

Unfortunately, admin panels can sometimes prove complex and cumbersome for people to navigate and find the information they want. It can require considerable training, which has to be repeated every time a new hire is onboarded. 

Contrast that with bots, which can be developed quickly using multiple languages that are highly familiar to most developers, such as Python and Node. Bots also work well with APIs associated with popular internal communication tools, including Microsoft Teams and Slack. 

Just like issuing voice commands to smart speakers like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, here we issue commands in written file format in Teams and Slack.   

Bots not only offer a responsive and intuitive experience, but allow organizations the potential to optimize the costs of development. 

When you’re creating admin panels, for instance, there can be considerable work to conduct all the necessary user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) research. Multiple user flows and interactions may need to be integrated, such as making buttons clickable, building functionality into drop-down menus and having the application accessible via a keyboard. Testing, of course, is a big part of setting up admin panels, too. 

With a bot, however, there is no UI to worry about or user journey you need to follow. It’s just a matter of putting in the right commands, submitting it and getting to the results. 

Finally, bots mean there is a reduced chance of errors, given that you don’t have to deal with user input validations and SQL injections that are more typical of admin panels. 

Why Bots And Admin Panels Will Continue To Coexist 

I don’t want to suggest that bots are always the best solution, of course. Organizations should consider whether those on their team — product managers, for instance —need to have a visual experience of some kind on the back end of the application.  

There are also scenarios that involve a lot of data processing or interventions from the team. Think of it like a flow chart with a lot of diamond boxes (or “decision boxes”) on it. Each diamond box you add as part of the user flow introduces greater complexity. This is where admin panels might remain the right choice. 

Bear in mind, that bots will require some training and a potential learning curve for your team, just like it takes some time to get accustomed to issuing commands via Alexa at home. Be prepared to have the appropriate documentation to make adoption as straightforward as possible. 

In fact, bots and admin panels will likely coexist in many organizations. Perhaps using bots for more common processes and applications will mean an organization can invest in what is necessary to develop admin panels for their most sophisticated applications. 

This is an area where our team has the experience to help. For more details on bots we’ve developed, and what’s possible for you, book a discovery call with us today. 

Ajit Mediratta

TECHNICAL LEAD