In partnership with China CAMC Engineering Co., Ltd. (CAMCE), IFS has created a bot with a WeChat based interface for users. The ERP bot provides the next generation of interface for the CAMCE users. It will enable them to interact with IFS using a messaging interface on their mobile devices. Both Android and Apple devices support the WeChat ERP bot.
This is not the only example of a business software bot. Sage created Pegg for its Sage 100 product earlier this year. The CAMCE bot understands the security level of employees and grants them appropriate access to information. What isn’t made clear in the press release is how sophisticated the bot is. First generation bots often allow only the completion of simple tasks. However the natural language interface will allow users to use conversational language to interface with their ERP application.
Unfortunately the press releases also doesn’t reveal whether the ERP bot is available for other IFS customers. Raymond Lam, General Manager of IFS in China commented “CAMCE is a highly valued and long standing customer of IFS.This project will enable CAMCE’s employees to operate in an agile and flexible manner increasing operational efficiencies. I am convinced that this will open the door to helping more clients recognize further efficiencies in their investment of IFS Applications.”
Competitive advantage for CAMCE with ERP bot
It is clear that CAMCE seek to gain a competitive advantage over its rivals. Bots are rapidly deployed, requiring virtually no training of users. It is likely we will see more and more bots in business applications. At some point bots will have the sophistication to deliver all tasks that a project engineer needs. Mobile apps may then be redundant. It will mean that confidential data does not need to be stored on remote devices. Although what happens to chat history is an interesting question.
The initial functionality of the app includes project tracking, assists in contract management. It also allows the completion of process approvals. As we see more and more of these apps it will be interesting to see how quickly a spoken language interface evolves. Another better known example is Apple’s Siri. In future people may be talking to their ERP system, hands free.
General Manager of Engineering Administration of CAMCE, Mr. Pan commented: ”We are very excited about the cooperation with IFS. WeChat is used throughout China, so being able to provide business information that resides in IFS Applications, in a way that suits employees is meaningful in terms of usability and productivity. The WeChat interface makes it easy to access and input information into IFS Application anytime and anywhere, on any device, which enables quick response to project needs, and improves decision-making and approvals. In addition, we can use WeChat to access IFS Applications without installing additional 3rd party apps or enablers which improves our speed-to-market and reduces costs.”
In conclusion it is important that this ERP bot was developed by CAMCE in conjunction with IFS. If IFS can make the AI solution more widely available, and in different languages, then it is exciting news for customers. Unfortunately this does not yet seem to be the case. CAMCE has created the bot for its own competitive advantage. Such as undertaking is quite impressive and it will be interesting to hear how widespread the adoption is. At some point there will come a time where companies will want to extend the bots usage outside of their companies, to clients and suppliers. It will be interesting to see how licensing works in this case.