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Accounting software provider Sage is working on a chatbot built on Facebook Messenger and Slack that lets you manage business finances, including expenses, something that small businesses will find appealing since it’ll allow them to focus on doing their work. It’s expected that this program will be available to the public later this month. Sage provided a sneak peek at VentureBeat’s MobileBeat conference this week.

Preview of Sage's chatbot for Facebook Messenger.

Above: Preview of Sage’s chatbot for Facebook Messenger.

Image Credit: Sage

Small business owners have a lot on their plate and having to deal with complex account software shouldn’t be something they have to worry with, at least according to Sage. The company wants to tap into the growing freelance and sharing economy (thanks Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, and TaskRabbit) and reach them using applications they’re already familiar with, particularly Facebook Messenger and Slack.

Some of the things Sage’s bot will be able to answer are how much you earned last month or who still owes you money. You should also be able to use it to document expenses such as what you’ve spent on dinner with a client last night. We’re told that the bot will respond accordingly and log all the relevant information into Sage’s system, while keeping track of all administrative issues.

The company has partnered with bot development firm Gupshup to create its chatbot. Kriti Sharma, Sage’s director of product management, told VentureBeat: “We want to simplify business processes and workflows, reduce friction and help the adminphobes leverage technology that they already love. Bots enable us to do exactly that — bringing information to the users favorite messaging app. Bots enable personalization and the conversational interface can even make the experience of boring business administration fun.”

Working with Gupshup gives Sage the ability to expand its chatbot to more platforms while also providing tools that are necessary for bots, especially those dealing in financial matters. Gupshup gives developers access to analytics, data protection, security, auditing, resilience, and compliance controls. This relationship helps set Sage up to expand into other platforms like Skype, Kik, Telegram, and WeChat in the future.

Sage’s bot should appeal to users of this U.K.-based software company. Sharma explained that its customers range from freelancers to large enterprise customers, all which subscribe to being social, connected businesses. With the rise of Facebook Messenger and Slack within the workplace, it was perhaps logical to believe that companies should play in the areas where workers are, not the other way around.

In fact, Sharma stated “initial trends suggest that users are engaging with [the Sage bot] more frequently than other channels. They are entering information, such as expenses, more real-time than before. Also, these users are asking more data-driven questions about their business.”

This bot is free to use, but some of the more advanced features Sage has built in, which the company hasn’t disclosed yet since it hasn’t officially launched yet, will only work if you’re paying for one of its existing products.

Stay abreast of the latest news on bots, messaging, and AI from MobileBeat 2016. Read our coverage here.


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