A few months ago I started working at Kopano. And as is often the case, a new job means new technologies to work with. One of these new technologies is Mattermost. And I like Mattermost. It allows me to communicate with my co-workers in an easy, accessible way. What I must admit though, is that used Mattermost almost exclusively as a chat tool, and not a ChatOps tool. Shame on me! Or not?
Because even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t know how to “use” or “do” ChatOps. Yes, ChatOps is great for developers and DevOps, but I’m not a developer, I am a marketer and in all honesty, I haven’t got a clue how ChatOps could benefit me. Even more so, until recently, I didn’t even know what ChatOps meant.
So for me, and all the other “normal/non-tech” people out there, I will try to explain what ChatOps is and how non-techies, especially online marketers, can make the most use out of it.
What is ChatOps?
ChatOps is short for Chat and Operations and is not so much a technology but rather a way of connecting your business to a chat interface. Simply said, you could see your chat window as an information hub where people exchange knowledge with other people but also with machines.
ChatOps is currently quite known among techies, however, for non-IT the possibilities are plentiful too. To give you an example: say you’re part of a sales group chat. With ChatOps you can let your CRM automatically send lead reports to your group chat. You could also execute a script directly from the group chat, requesting, for instance, the status of your high-priority development tasks. Essentially, ChatOps gives you and your team immediate access to all the information you need to take swift and deliberate decisions. How awesome is that!
What ChatOps Tools Are Available?
Two well-known example of ChatOps enabling tools are Slack and HipChat which are used by millions of people all over the world. However, these tools are hosted in public clouds which means you don’t have any control over what happens with your data. At Kopano we therefore chose to use and integrate the open source solution Mattermost. I love Mattermost but we’ll be honest: there are, other nice open source alternatives available. My colleague Andreas Rösler tried some of the most popular solutions and wrote about his experiences on his personal blog (German).
One of the nice things about ChatOps are Bots. You can use two kinds of bots: bots requiring you to use command line language and bots that allow for the use of natural language. Whereas the former can only respond to pre-programmed commands the latter understands new commands and learns from conversations. What bot you use, is completely up to you, but keep in mind that ‘AI bots’ are still quite basic. On the Mattermost website you can find a selection of bots that are free to use but, of course, if these bots do not fulfill your requirements, you can always build your own (that is, if you know how to code)!
Some Cool Use Cases
All and all, ChatOps is a pretty cool concept. So how can you, as an online marketer make use out of ChatOps? Well, Mattermost allows you to integrate with a lot of tools via their API, here are some ideas I’d like to try out.
Manage social media channels directly from Mattermost
Although I try to keep track of what’s going on our social media channels at any time, I’m half of a marketing department so missing mentions and comments happens to me more often than I’d like to admit. Since I am logged in to Mattermost about 24/7 it would be great if I could receive a notification from, say Twitter, when someone mentions us or uses the Kopano hashtag. Even better would be if I could reply to mentions or post messages from that same channel.
Share and discuss web analytic reports with your team
As any marketer I depend on a web analytics tool to measure the effectiveness of our marketing efforts. Every week our team looks at analytics reports to see where we’ve improved and discuss where we can do better. So wouldn’t it be wonderful if you didn’t have to generate and send reports to your team members by email every week but just have them delivered in your Mattermost channel? Or receive a notification when your website traffic suddenly rises or drops, or when an analytics goal was reached. I most definitely think so.
Get notified about lead status changes in your marketing automation tool
Last but not least, one of the things that I’d find very useful is getting an update when a contact converted into a marketing or sales qualified lead. Of course I can check this in our marketing automation tool, but assuming I’m already receiving social media and web analytics notification in my Mattermost marketing channel, it would only make sense to receive lead conversion notifications in the same way.
Of course these scenarios are all theoretical but in the next few weeks, together with my developer colleagues, I will try to get started with some of these integrations and find out to what extent Mattermost/ChatOps will fulfil my expectations. Keep you posted!
Integrate with Mattermost – DIY versus integration services
If you are considering integrating Mattermost with the (marketing) tools of your choosing, I’d advise you to ask the assistance of a developer. Of course, there are companies that offer online integration services, like Zapier, IFTTT and Integromat, but these come with a caveat. Most, if not all of these integration providers, are US-based cloud services and cannot guarantee data privacy. So, if you don’t have a developer in-house, please hire one to do the job for you. This puts control in your own hands, allowing you to build open source integrations that you can host on your own server, keeping your data as safe.