CPA Practice Advisor

OCT 2018

Today's Technology for Tomorrow's Firm.

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OCTOBER 2018 ■ 7 FROM THE TRENCHES with some bots being particularly bad: ■ Spambots that harvest email addresses from contact pages ■ Downloader programs consuming bandwidth by downloading entire websites ■ Website scrapers that grab the content of websites and re-use it without permission on automatically generated doorway pages ■ Viruses and worms ■ DDoS attacks ■ Botnets, zombie computers, etc. Why Some bots (and for that matter progressive web apps…which need to be covered in another article!) are replacing the apps that we have grown accustomed to on our mobile phones, tablets, computer and websites. There are many reasons why this is happening: users like messenger apps, users are getting tired of apps, bots are more human than apps, bots are simpler and faster than apps, bots are cheaper, brands want bots and frankly bots are great! Bots: are able to take orders (1-800-Flowers, Pizza Express, TacoBot), provide information on request (Skyscanner), provide personalized tips (Sephora, H&M), provide Real-time updates (Bank of America), lead users through purchases (Spring), enable users to print documents (HP), and connect with real doctors (HealthTap). Developers are finding that integrating with bots provides them new capabilities with less effort. Examples here include: Amazon Lex, Facebook Messenger bot builders, a bot connection for Office 365 Outlook. Further, you can build your own Slack bot in five minutes – see Zapier Blog. What? Chatbot platforms vary widely. DataMonsters has a comparative ChatBot Table ( that compares 25 mostly free Chatbot platforms. You can choose proprietary suites with bots, among them are: ChattyPeople, MEOKAY, Smooch, Botsify, Beep Boop, Chatfuel, Facebook Messenger Platform, Telegram Bots, BotKit and FlowXO. For more information about building bots, consider the following references: ■ ■ ■ In addition, the following will provide more introduction into the world of bots: ■ Agent-based model (for bot’s theory and background) ■ BotList index of bots ■ Botnet ■ Brilliant Bots for Slack ■ Comparison of Internet Relay Chat bots ■ Facebook bots ■ IRC bot ■ Social bot ■ Software agent ■ Spambot ■ Twitterbot ■ UBot Studio ■ Votebots ■ Wikipedia:bots How? So how do the bots approach work? Explaining bots is a lot like explaining apps. “There’s an app for that,” could easily become “there’s a bot for that.” Bots are used to buy up good seats for concerts, particularly by ticket brokers who resell the tickets. Bots are often used in Massively Multiplayer Online role playing games to farm for resources that would otherwise take significant time or effort to obtain; this is a concern for most online in-game economies. Bots are also used to increase views for YouTube videos to show “popularity” and improve ranking. Bots are used to increase traffic counts on analytics reporting to extract money from advertisers, which has been shown to be as high as 54%. Bots may be used on internet forums to automatically post inflammatory or nonsensical posts to disrupt the forum and anger users. What does this mean to the practice of accounting and to accountants? We have several working examples available: ■ Hilton Connie ■ Sage Pegg ■ Zoho Ask Zia – will retrieve accounting data based on request ■ Botkeeper – the first robotic bookkeeper using AI and ML ■ SlickPie – MagicBot A.I. – automated receipt data entry tool (bot) as part of their free accounting and invoicing ■ Thousands of Slack bots Implementing bots can take repetitive work and make it easier. Bots can assist with routine tasks that are part of our daily workflows. Recommended Next Steps Bots are here to stay. Just like you learned about apps when smartphones started to arrive, bots have been around before smartphone apps and are gaining momentum with more cloud-based services guaranteeing them a bright future. While bots have been used for malicious and illegal activities, many are used for good. One of your biggest risks is that the bot development platform that you select may harvest valuable information from your client information, and most of you probably don’t want that. The simple advice here is don’t use that tool! However, this harvesting disclosure is often buried in a license agreement you haven’t read. For bots, you need to make sure someone has read the fine print initially, and every time a license agreement is updated. If you don’t think there are consequences, simply think Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. We’ve tried to give you enough background that you can understand some of the fundamentals of the bots opportunity. How can you use bots for both business and personal productivity gains? Here's a summary of what you need to know about bots: Key Information TECHNOLOGY: Bots Why is the new technology Engagement with brand and community better? is stronger supported by cloud resources like AI and ML How can you do this today? Chatfuel, FlowXO, Gubshup,, and Risks Security backdoors, aggravation of clients Where/when to use When questions and answers are routine How much? Most tools are free or low cost, and bots are less expensive to develop than apps When expected in mainstream Arriving now, more sophisticated in two years Displaced technology or service Mobile apps and low-level customer service reps Other resources Accounting Today, CPA Practice Advisor

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