Zach! Long time. Remember me? ;)
I’m also working very closely with Chatbots at Wirkn. I’ve been a big proponent of NLP based chat interfaces (without them it’s basically a CLI, and who wants to interact with a CLI?!). The problem we face with them is one of scale, many of these NLP-aaS providers are very expensive — we see millions of chat interactions per month and this usually puts us in the thousands of dollars plus per month category. It’s just not financially feasible for us to run NLP at such a scale (yet).
How are you planning to tackle this challenge? Just wait it out until it gets cheaper? Do you know of any toolkits or frameworks that can be used instead of SaaS providers (even if there’s some elbow-grease required to prime it, or it must be context-domain restricted as you’ve mentioned)?