Europe’s first international chatbots and mobile messaging conference, ChatbotConf 2016, took place in Vienna on October 14th, 2016. We were the attendees as Botanalytics and had the opportunity to meet bot enthusiasts all over the world.
The conference kicked off early in the morning with the crepes and pancakes. Attendees got the bags with the messages on and sessions started after the breakfast time. Program was full of good names on two stages and all the seats were taken during the day. All sessions were quite exciting and worth to listen.
Slack — Amir Shevat
After the welcoming session finished, Amir Shevat, Developer Relations Lead of Slack took the place on the main stage. Amir talked about during his talk about how Slack grew and how bot makers could develop and maintain their bots successfully. He gave some tricks and tips about some issues to be considered. All these tips are the experiences of the Slack team of course. For instance, don’t forget to let your users be able to use Emojis in these days. He mentioned about not spamming your users. Instead, he advised to digest content. In order to create a good user experience, the responses of the bot should be formatted, he pointed out.
We learnt that more than 90% of paid teams use Slack apps and integrations. Up to date, 17K integrations have been installed 3.6M times. Also, he mentioned about Slack’s exclusive fund worth $80,000,000 for bot makers. He announced that he is writing a book called ‘’Designing Bots’’ as its publisher is O’Reilly. We’re already excited!
Christoph Auer-Welsbach — IBM
After Amir’s session, Christoph Auer-Welsbach from IBM was on the stage talking about the future of AI and gave some important statistics. He pointed out that AI industry will be worth $70B by 2020. 2,600 companies developing A.I. technology and by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human. Also, 1000+ new jobs globally related to machine learning every month will be created, he said. He advised that businesses should understand that A.I. can now serve a user’s emotional need too, data science to design products and services for A.I. systems, the many ways users can react in different scenarios. It’s crucial to understand how human and machine are working on their side as their natural behaviors. Human side is much more about compassion, intuition, design, value judgments, common sense, on the other hand machine side is much more deep learning, discovery, large-scale math, fast checking. For successful A.I. systems are combined in that way, Christoph Auer-Welsbach pointed out. He explained that A.I. systems can enhance their bots by considering all the aspects in the honeycomb such as speech to text, sentiment analysis, image link extraction, concept tagging, personality insights etc.
Ido Iungelson — Viber
Third session started on the main stage started with Ido Iungelson from Viber. Ido started his talk with the graph about bots on Google Trends. Observing data he asked the question ‘’Should we build bots?’’ He pointed out the challenges of bots one by one. He broke down the ‘’reach’’ side into virality, social presence, discovery. These challenges are the obstacles to overcome the acquisition of the users on bots.
Toby Bradshaw — Microsoft
After the delicious lunch break, Toby Bradshaw from Microsoft started his talk telling about Microsoft’s Bot Framework which provides bot development tools in the platform. Toby explained how to develop bots and how Microsoft Bot Builder SDK gives you the capability of managing the bots. He listed general guidance: keeping domains specific, keeping intents distinct, not confusing intents with entities, giving better results with larger training sets, designing for confidence and using telemetry to highlight gaps in training. He summarized his talk with the words ‘’The world is still learning what a ‘great’ bot is but: mixed media, domain specific and context awareness are really important to manage the bots’’
Mikhail Larionov — Facebook Messenger
Mikhail Larionov from Facebook Messenger started his talk with the current capabilities on the bot industry. The areas are payments, webviews, sharing, ads for bots. These opportunities will be a success in near future. Mikhail mentioned that bot makers should focus on user experience, analytics/tracking, reach, scalability. These are the main priorities for bot developers already. We learnt that Facebook Messenger team is now focused on payment improvements such as one-click transactions, support from webviews within Messenger, PayPal and Stripe out of box. He also mentioned that new UI improvements will be delivered soon on Messenger for bot makers. Moreover, Mikhail gave some insights about retention and monetization for bots. Smart notifications, explicit user opt-in, opt-out, pushes, native messenger payments, custom payment flows are the assets we need to figure out if we would like to develop a successful chatbot.
Martin Raison — Wit.ai
Martin Raison from Wit.ai started his speech telling why conversational A.I is so hard. Then, he explained that bot makers can use stories while they’re creating their bots. Defining workflow is really important according to Martin. He listed some improvements that bot makers could do. For instance, bot makers could start with a ‘’happy path’’ and make a story for it, add stories to refine the specification and add new features over time, automatically run the model against existing stories to identify any ambiguities.
He quoted from John McCarthy: ‘’ As soon as it works, no one calls it AI anymore.’’
Google and Line speakers Behshad Behzadi and JoseLuis Takahashi both talked about the future of chatbots. Beshad said that the future of search will be as it is in the Her movie. Also, he gave a product demo how Google now serves as an A.I. assistant.
After all the speeches were finished, panel discussion with Line, Viber, Google and Facebook Messenger started right away. All of the speakers answered the questions from the audience. Some of the questions were about future, digital assistants, and personal bot usages.
The conference was such a great success for chatbot ecosystem. We thank you to Oratio for having a great atmosphere in Vienna.