What are software bots?

Whether it’s due to science fiction, or simple misunderstanding, there are a lot of misconceptions about software bots. Use of the term ‘bot’ is broad, and this only serves to confuse matters further.

So, what are software bots? Here, we answer the questions around these useful software programs and clear up the uncertainty that clouds them.

What are software bots?

A software bot is a program designed to automate tasks. Typically, these tasks are simple, repetitive, and routine. So, a software bot can perform them quicker and more efficiently than a human could.

Software bots can take several different forms. For example, one of the most well-known types of software bot today is a chatbot. Other types of bot include web crawler bots and rule-based automation bots.

Either way, a bot is a software helper that supports, simulates and sometimes replaces human work.

What are software bots not?

Software bots are not the same thing as the physical robots you see walking around in science fiction movies. Instead, they are computer programs that complete tasks automatically for you.

Nor are software bots necessarily ‘smart’. While some do use artificial intelligence and machine learning, it’s not a requirement, and not all of them do.

In fact, most of them are rule-based and don’t learn as they complete tasks.

Where do software bots live?

Software bots live within computer programs. In other words, they don’t have a physical presence.

Different types of bot can be found in different software programs and solutions. For example, software bots can live within automation software. Or, you might find them within a chat interface, like a messaging app.

So, another way to answer: “What are software bots?” They’re bits of code that live within computer programs.

What do software bots do?

Software bots complete simple tasks for you so that you don’t have to do them. This could be anything from organising your documents and your calendar, to parsing and processing data.

In business, software bots are usable in two main ways. One is behind the scenes, to help with admin tasks and simple workflows. (As with automation software.) The other is on the front lines, handling a variety of customer service queries and FAQs. (As with chatbots.)

So, software bots are ‘robots’ that handle your admin without human intervention. They’re the software that you use to automate your workflows, parse your emails, and assist your employees.

What are software bots useful for?

By handling the tasks that are boring or simple for you, software bots save you time. This lets you get on with more interesting, important or difficult tasks.

Your efficiency is increased because you don’t have to manually enter information into databases anymore. (As one common use case.)

You can then spend the freed time working on that idea that could further the growth of the company.

At the service desk, you can focus on interesting and challenging customer service interactions, while a software bot answers the repetitive ones quickly for you.

An intangible helping hand

To sum: software bots are computer programs that automatically complete tasks for you.

They live within software programs, and they can handle a variety of different tasks. They’re useful not only because using them saves time and human effort, but they provide a good way to understand the way AI and automation work.

So, what are software bots? They’re an intangible helping hand in our busy, tech-oriented lives.

Further reading