The future of One Identity — Introducing Digital Assistants - What is a bot?

Do you remember the old adage “on internet, nobody knows you’re a dog” by Peter Steiner? It was 1993 but curiously enough not much has changed. It’s still difficult, on internet as well as on your company network to tell the dogs from the people. You never really know who the other party involved in a conversation. It’s the nature of the media we use, no matter if it is a chat, an email thread or a call.

I’m a technical product manager here at One Identity and my role, beside other things, is to find ways to disrupt our market with new ideas and new ways to solve an identity challenge.

Now, as you have continued to read beyond the headline of this blog, you probably know what a bot is, but for the few of you that are not familiar with bots, let me help you understand. A bot, short for “robot”, is formally defined as: an autonomous program on a network (especially the Internet) which can interact with systems or users, especially one designed to behave like a player in some video games. A robot.

Simple but disruptive: they are an autonomous system, a reactive program that may interact with other programs or humans; a controlled solution that operate accordingly to a specific set of instructions.

Bot’s are not that new, in Internet years, they’ve been around for a while. Do you remember Microsoft “Clippy”? (Did you know the bot’s name was actually “Clippit”?) While it couldn’t carry conversations but it could answer your questions about Microsoft Word without leaving the applications. It saved time from searching through the help guide the answer. Even today, a bot’s function is the same as Clippy’s: a digital assistant whose main purpose is to provide you the tools you need to do your work in a more rapid and efficient way.

I’m guessing this brings up two questions in your mind:

  • If you’re a techie: you probably wonder how it is built?
  • If you’re more business minded: you want to know how can a bot created by the good folks at One Identity can help me?

I intend to answer both of those questions and more with my three-part blog series to be posted over the next few weeks. For now, let’s begin with an introduction to bots and a short answer to your questions.

So what can bots do - or not do?

A bot is a user interface. It is not a stand-alone product, at least from the user perspective. They are a way to interact with something digital. They communicate. They may start the conversation, maybe check things for you and provide results. They can even learn from you to achieve the results you expect and desire.

Here’s a few example:

KLM, the Dutch airline, uses a bot on Facebook messenger (here) to help travelers get their flight information. After booking your flight, you can choose the option to receive booking confirmation, check-in notification, boarding pass and flight status updates directly on Facebook messenger.

UPS uses bots on Skype and Facebook Messenger (here) to help people track shipments.

Pizza Hut use Amazon Alexa (here) to help users order their favorite pizza without getting off their chair.

There are many more examples of bots. But, as you can see, bots are becoming ubiquitous because of their ability to allow human and machines (and applications) to interact – have conversations, even -- through natural language.

Yes, Alessansdro, but what’s your company, One Identity? Are you going to use a bot to answers questions about your products? Well, that that is a great idea and so who knows if we’ll do that soon, our intent is to disrupt – positively -- the way you interact with, not only our products but also the entire IAM technology.

Think about it, let say you have this huge queue of requests and approvals that start from user provisioning, and finish with re-certification and compliance campaigns. All tasks that produce an incredible amount of emails and require extensive hours on the software portals to check, review and approve. Now, let’s imagine a “conversation” like this:

You: “Hey Alexa/Siri/Cortana/bot is there any task for me today on One Identity?”

Bot: “Yes Alessandro, you have two certification campaigns and one request from one of your peers. Do you want me to go through them?”

You: “I’m in a hurry now, let’s skip the certification for now and go to the request.”

Bot: “I’ll schedule the certifications campaign for tomorrow, I see in your calendar that you are free. The request come from Jackson S. He requires an account on System Z. Please type/say ‘approve’ or ‘deny’ or ‘reply.’”

You: “Approve.”

Bot: “Could you confirm your approval by typing or reading me the code I’ve just sent you on the One Identity Starling 2FA software token?”

You: “1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9”

Bot: “Thank you. Have a nice day, Alessandro.”

 Amazing, isn’t it? Well, I wrote it in the simulated conversation and you probably noticed: I’ve not just said “type” but I’ve also said “say” because you may literally talk with bots and I’ve just presented the most basic scenario but our intent is to provide way more capabilities than this.”

So in few lines:

We disrupted a static process by giving the user the capability to work faster, to adapt the process to the user, to monitor the results within the guidelines of the user’s needs and the process constrains.

We disrupted the way we think about products by using a new interface to provide a connection between a user and the entire stack of One Identity products -- and beyond;

We disrupted a static market that see different networks, in this case a corporate networks and user’s network, and provided a simple way to allow them to work together securely.

And if you wonder how we have done this, especially the last part, well, stay tuned on this channel because I’m going to make you stand up and yell “I want it” with the next posts.

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