Chatbots and Business Intelligence - your personal virtual data assistant

by Jens Siebertz
Handy-Display mit Chatbot

The use of chatbots is increasing. There are now more than 100,000 chatbots for Facebook Messenger alone. Even if you tend to associate artificial intelligence with this topic, the bots are technically more like a full-text search engine. The text-based dialog systems consist of a text input and output mask, which can be used to communicate with the underlying system via language. The applications perform tasks independently and automatically, but usually resort to prefabricated databases with specific answers and recognition patterns. Within the database, the entered question is then broken down and the individual parts are further processed according to predefined rules. The idea behind it is not that new: in the 1960s, Joseph Weizenbaum programmed ELIZA, the first virtual psychotherapist.

In a study by Bitkom from the beginning of the year, respondents expressed a growing desire for a virtual personal assistant: one in four can imagine using a chatbot. However, according to the study, a large proportion of sceptics, who alongside the supporters of chatbots represent about 75 percent of the study sample, do not believe that the information provided by chatbots is reliable or would not like to communicate with a computer. 68 percent of the supporters would like to use the program as an assistant for scheduling. For this purpose, the chatbot is supposed to synchronize their own diary with that of a colleague using voice command and, as a result, arrange a suitable appointment. Almost two-thirds of respondents would like to use the chatbots for reservations or purchases of event tickets, and 58 percent for research purposes when searching for specific products or booking flights, hotels and train journeys.

Business Intelligence and Chatbots - a useful connection for businesses

Chatbots can be used wherever communication is concerned. In addition, so-called "action bots" can not only answer questions, but can also carry out actions such as travel bookings or bank transfers. Therefore, the fields of application are very diverse and the use in companies is also increasingly discussed. This is because virtual assistants can also optimize processes and support communication with customers and partners. In combination with Big Data, which often remains unused in many companies, chatbots can be used for process optimization and simplification within the company.

For example, companies that already use business intelligence systems to visualize and analyze their data can use chatbots to communicate this data specifically. For instance, imagine your turnover falls below a certain level that you have previously classified as worrying. In your business intelligence dashboard, you can already see this alarming decline in sales at a glance. Here, the chatbot supports the statement of the dashboard with linguistic communication and therefore underpins the importance of the statement. And you don't always have to keep an eye on your dashboard, because the chatbot will begin to speak if there are any alarming problems. With the help of a link you can also call the dashboard directly. The possibilities here are very varied. You can also set up chat groups such as a "Sales Group". This group will then be informed by the chatbot when a customer order is lost or it is used to discuss the reasons for the sales decline internally. Of course, communication also works the other way around and questions such as "How much is my current turnover?" or "How many stocks of product X are still available?" can be retrieved from the business intelligence system via the chatbot.

Another example of the use of chatbots and business intelligence from sales planning: A supply chain manager would like to know the inventory turnover of the last financial year. The business intelligence bot then creates a detailed chart of inventory turnover, supplemented by other key figures. The chatbot can provide information on the current status of the achievement of a goal at any time, with precise objectives such as "10,000 US dollar turnover until X. X. 2017", which have previously been defined, and then illustrate whether the necessary progress towards the goal has been achieved at the current time. Multimedia chat bots can also add videos or pictures to the information.


The use of chatbot systems is increasing and their application possibilities are becoming more and more diverse. They can also optimize processes in companies in many ways. In order to be able to access all databases quicker and therefore provide intelligent dialogues for the users, business intelligence systems support a quick and targeted data reader. In the area of online shopping and customer service, the use of the technology is increasing and it is improving with the growing number of users. Even though there are still many skeptics about the technology, it is time for areas outside of online retail and customer service to start communicating more with the systems.

What potential do you see in corporate chatbots?

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About the author

  • Jens Siebertz

    Jens Siebertz started working for INFORM in 2003. He is passionate about business intelligence, management reporting, data analysis and production controlling.

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