27 September 2016
Chatbots? What is it, you might be wondering? To start with, Chatbots are the new revolution after mobile apps came in, that changed the way we consumed information.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take time and feed you with what’s up in the chat bot world and why they would matter so much in the coming future.
What is a Chatbot?
A chatbot (or "chat bot") is a set of pre-defined (pre-programmed) set of rules that would trigger one after another when a certain condition meets. Or, we have another type of chat bots that are kind of big boss in this new upcoming online revolution, where the chat bot is powered by artificial intelligence (AI).
Such bots are self learning in nature and their dictionary keeps on growing depending upon the information they receive from the consumer. This means, they would only get smarter with the passage of time and would be in a better position to serve them over the time.
How to make a Chat bot? – Briefly
Before we go on, it’s important to explain where and how chat bots are made, to sketch a general picture about it. Below are few ways to approach it.
- If You know coding
If you know coding, you can use popular chat bot API (pre-made code functions) that you can call with in your app and get the desired results for your platform or business, and feel the power that chat bots can deliver.
For example: Facebook chat bot API.
Overview of Facebook Chat bot with Example:
Below are few platforms that you can join and start building chat bots for your brand.
We’ll cover this topic in the coming future in detail, with complete steps.
- If you hate coding
If you’re not a coding enthusiast, then there are more platforms to help you make chat bots with simple drag and drop, then you can imagine.
World of chat bot is moving fast and soon we’ll see the bots all around us online to assist us in any way possible.
If you’re a consumer. How will chat bots help you?
If you’re an every day tech geek who loves to explore new things online, then you’d be fascinated with how chat bots would make your life so much easier, in the times to come.
Lets take some different chat bots that are currently out there, that are ready to serve you in different ways, depending upon what they were made for.
Type #1 Content Syndication
Sometimes, you just love to consume information online about a certain topic. How you get to approach it? You Google that and gets bombarded with tons of links that you have to make a decision, that could change your life.
With a content syndicating chat bot, you can simply ask it for a specific topic that you’re currently interested in and it would give you information you’re looking for.
An example of it is the current CNN Facebook chat bot, that gives you latest news when you trigger it by writing to it something.
Type #2 Reservation
Some companies are using Chat bots for reservation purposes. Like restaurants have developed chat bots to assist their customers, to order their food in a natural chat conversation, with a bot.
Like wise, any hotel can use them to help customers book a room with a simple message to bot.
Type #3 Teaching
Many developers are now utilizing the power of chat bots in teaching Industry with a bot that can guide the learner towards the right sources.
The bot can respond the user with what it can help with. Then the user can select any of the options. Looking forward to that, the bot can reply back with valuable information, that would serve the question posted.
Type #4 Friend
Some bots are made out of fun that talk back, as a usual friend would do. Developers have made such bots to be on the lighter side. Such bots would talk back with funny stuff, which become a good source of entertainment.
Type #5 Finance
Then there are some bots in personal finance niche which helps in keeping track of your finances.
You see, there are endless possibilities that can be empowered by chat bots.
Why is everyone running after having a chat bot for their company?
Well, that’s a great question to ask at this point, now that you know what they can be utilized for. You see, it’s recently for the first time that more people have started to use messaging applications ‘more than’ the social networks.
And as the popular marketing saying goes “Be there where the crowd is”.
At this point of time, if someone plans to start building a mobile application for ‘some purpose’, it’s too late to be in that market.
The future is for chat bots that would serve everything by residing with in the chat applications that we spend most of our time on.
In the near future, we would most likely see all in one messaging app that would not only be used for direct messaging to our social circle, but to:
- Order a pizza
- Book a hotel room
- Get a medical advice
- Learn new stuff
- Search for something
And what not. There are endless possibilities of what chat bots can be used for.
As the popular Entrepreneur from Betaworks once mentioned:
People are now spending more time in messaging apps than in social media and that is a huge turning point. Messaging apps are the platforms of the future and bots will be how their users access all sorts of services.
In case you are currently looking forward to build an online business and wish to see it flourish fast, the best place to do is with in a chat bot.
Business are all about ‘serving’ people in some form or shape. The best approach to do so currently is via chat bots.
Once websites were used to serve people, then came in mobile applications and now it’s time for bots to take over.
That goes to show why chat bots are so hot and are making the headlines these days. It’s a start of revolution. Anyone heading in first serving the people, would be at the top of the iceberg very soon!
Chatbots are paradigm shift
As Niko Bonsatos, who is a managing director for General Catalyst said:
There is hope that consumers will be keen on experimenting with bots to make things happen for them. It used to be like that in the mobile app world 4+ years ago. When somebody told you back then… ‘I have built an app for X’… You most likely would give it a try. Now, nobody does this. It is probably too late to build an app company as an indie developer. But with bots… consumers’ attention spans are hopefully going to be wide open/receptive again!
How do chat bots work - a look from the inside
Now as we explored earlier, there are 2 types of chat bots. One are simple rules based and other being far more complex that make use of AI (Artificial Intelligence).
- How rule based bots work?
These bots are programmed to do or perform a certain action against a certain trigger point. So a typical chat bot would either get triggered if you first type something to it in the chat application, it resides in. Or, it would first greet you with something nice or funny when you open the chat window.
Either way, when you reply back to it, it would then start its sequence it was trained for.
For example: You train a chat bot in the following way:
Write back “Hey thank you for being here. I hope you’re all well.” -> when user types something into the chat.
Such chat bots always keep on detecting if a user has typed in something in the chat box or not. The moment something comes up from the user, they’d write them back.
- How AI based bots work?
Now these bots are super hard to make. There is ‘no comprehensive’ example of such bots out there currently that can talk back to you just like a human would do naturally.
Though researches are underway to build self learning platforms that would keep build the dictionary for self learning and there is quite some valuable advancement done in AI and machine learning.
What makes programing these bots hard is how we humans communicate. AI based bots not only keep track of the ‘word dictionary’, but also their ‘context’.
This is the hard part. It requires a lot of logic implementation than we can imagine.
In a nutshell, there are no drag and drop style platforms yet which would help ‘everyday’ user to make such AI based bots for them selves.
They can currently be programmed, and only the best of programmers around could bring their heads together to work upon computer AI, which has a huge scope in years to come.
As the CEO of Assist, Shane Mac recently said in a statement:
Beware though, bots have the illusion of simplicity on the front end but there are many hurdles to overcome to create a great experience. So much work to be done. Analytics, flow optimization, keeping up with ever changing platforms that have no standard….
Hope this quick guide was helpful for you in understanding the importance of chat bots and what they can do for the community for years to come.
This is the time you take decision and jump into the ocean that would soon going to have high tides.