In what is believed to be the first initiative of its kind in the UK, an office building in Warrington is now communicating with its tenants via ‘chatbots’. Tony McDonough reports
Business tenants at a technology hub can now communicate with their building via ‘chatbots’ in what is believed to be the first initiative of its kind in the UK.
A chatbot is a programme that automates processes on command. People already widely use chatbots in their everyday lives via Siri on iPhones or Alexa on devices such as Amazon Echo.
Now occupiers at technology and engineering hub The Base on Dallam Lane in Warrington can interrogate the building’s bespoke chatbot, nicknamed the BaseBot, to find out information related to their use and occupancy of the building.
Sylvie Morton of Langtree, which manages the building on behalf of owner Warrington & Co, explained: “The BaseBot allows occupants to identify basic information such as whether any mail has been logged for them. This is proving particularly popular in light of the COVID emergency as people can check information remotely if they have to work from home.”
The system could go much further, helping tenants identify their latest energy usage, rent and rates payable – even current broadband speeds on the building’s super-fast fibre network.
“BaseBot is designed to give as much control to our tenants as possible,” added Ms Morton. “We’re adding to its functionality and it’s already proving very popular, with more than 50% of tenants logging in regularly.”
The system has been developed by Base tenant Chatbot Labs. Earlier this year, the firm’s boss Chris Bain predicted a productivity and jobs revolution in the North West from uptake of new chatbots.
A chatbot is a programme that automates processes on command, interrogating the host’s multiple data sources to find the answer to any question. The command can be verbal or written. Mr Bain predicts that soon all businesses and buildings will be using them.
He said: “It’s great that Warrington is leading the country on this innovation. We’re developing BaseBot as we go but any company can adopt the principle. If you run an accountancy practice and want to review a client’s file you can ask the chatbot to find the information for you. Factories have had robots for decades and now offices will soon have digital robots.”
The system is now being developed to allow more sophisticated queries that will allow tenants to get a much more rounded view of their occupancy needs and uses.