Bots, the revolutionary new AI powered assistants, have lately been taking over our daily, mundane tasks, in hopes of making our lives easier and more productive. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would have heard of popular Bot-based platforms such as Slack, Kik and Telegram. Most recently Bots were also added on Microsoft owned Skype Messenger and Facebook Messenger. Of course, who can forget Microsoft’s big faux pa with their Twitter chatbot Tay.
Almost everyday, new bots are added to these platforms, and the one that caught our attention for this article is an accounting bot, aptly named Pegg. Pegg is a result of a partnership between Bot-building platform Gupshup and business accounting software provider, Sage.
Pegg is currently in Beta phase, but even now, it’s quite useful, with the potential to make tedious spreadsheets history. So what can Pegg do? Well, for starters, it can become a key tool for you to keep a track of your daily/monthly expenses and earnings. The best part about it is that you can make these entries by simply having a conversation with Pegg on either Facebook Messenger or Slack.
For instance, we asked Pegg to create an expense entry of food ordered from a cafe. On initiating a conversation with Pegg, it asks you to state your country of residence, so it can set the appropriate currency for your accounting purposes. Once that is out of the way, Pegg asks for the source of income, with an option of uploading receipts. All we had to do was send an image of the receipt to Pegg, and it added the same to the expense entry with ease.
Along the way, the bot even gives you tips on the kind of questions you can ask it. This prompted the second task we assigned Pegg. In this case, we asked the accountant bot to add a bunch of income entries, and without a glitch, Pegg did just that. However we noticed a discrepancy when we asked Pegg to add an expense entry in another currency. It does not convert the same to local currency, while adding it to your final tally. Maybe something the developers can look to add in the final version of the bot. Currently, it looks like the bot is trained to recognize keyword like ‘payments’, ‘earnings’, ‘paid’, etc. It can understand simple context, but can get confused with a twist in language (See example below).
Pegg's ultimate goal is to assist small businesses and startups that want to avoid the hassle of maintaining cumbersome spreadsheets. “Over 65 percent of small businesses continue to largely rely on spreadsheets and manual recordkeeping practices that are not only inaccurate and time consuming, but also incredibly tedious and costly to maintain,” said Kriti Sharma, Global Director of Mobile Product Management at Sage. “Gupshup’s industry-leading cross channel bot platform has given us the ability to overcome the complexities of today’s accounting software and offer a fun, intuitive and accessible experience to entrepreneurs and small business owners,” she added.
It’s true that bots are the future of workplace management, but there are many barriers to cross for bots to become reliable assistants. All we can say right now is that the work seems to be on and the future looks ‘bot’tastic!