Bots seemed to be the hot topic of 2016. But, why are so many businesses looking to use a bot? Why do they see potential in something that, in many ways, is a competitor for some of their own customers’ businesses?
Well, let’s take a look at Sage’s bot—Hello Pegg. This is an exciting development in the history of Sage. Pegg allows customers to manage their business admin through their favourite messaging apps. Basically, you ask a question, and Pegg finds out the answer for you. But surely in the accountant space, this is disrupting how they help their clients?
You are correct, but if an automated bot gives you the same data as your accountant, then you may need a new accountant to help run your business. And this is where the difference lies—data vs information / insights. As much as bots will adapt and learn to understand each user’s nuances and provide the right data in response to a question, it will not necessarily be able to tell you what it means, or how to use it.
This has always been one of the focus areas for Sage Intelligence, giving relevant, insightful information to customers. As a result, we are very excited by the possible synergies of bots and Sage Intelligence.
Don’t bot about, this stuff is useful!
There are, of course, the obvious quick wins: “Please give me my Income Statement for 2017?” Where Sage Intelligence will respond with a lovely formatted Income Statement. However, what does an Income Statement mean to a business owner with no financial background?
Isn’t it more likely that they will be asking: “How much money is owed to me by my customers? How long has it been since they last paid? Can I pay myself a salary this month?”
Or take the other extreme, a huge global organisation trying to get an understanding of the regional differences in tax calculations, and how similar roles are underpaid as a result. A task of this magnitude would involve many experts, many hours, and is probably better spent giving everyone a raise!
But a task of this magnitude could become easily possible when automation and bots are involved. They never get tired and don’t get bored doing the same task over and over, even when the parameters change. They also don’t need to work in one system, they can work on multiple systems at the same time.
The latter is something that has always made Sage Intelligence a very powerful reporting tool, the ability to report off multiple data sources through the Connector module. Added to this and with almost 20 years of experience, Sage Intelligence can then produce reports that provide information (not merely data) to business owners and accountants. We are extending this model with a cloud connector which will allow connections to multiple cloud data sources.
A powerful combination for the reporting solution of the future
In addition, with the flexibility of Excel and its seamless integration with Sage Intelligence, these reports can be customised to be insightful to each client’s specific needs. Leveraging PowerBI, our HTML dashboards and Google Sheets in our cloud product will further allow for even better visualisations for customers going forward.
And so, combining all of this allows for a bot which can respond to real world questions, with answers coming from the Sage Intelligence financial reporting engine (with adaptive learning), and from multiple data sources. This equals a powerful solution that gives business owners and accountants the right answers to any questions they have.
The only question, in fact, that won’t be asked is, “Why bot-her?”