Chatbot and the things you should know about it
Messaging platforms are coming of the age, and Chatbots are all the new trend now. They are touted as the next version of apps, like a huge change in the communication industry. Since Facebook has expanded access to its Messenger service, giving businesses the ability to reach customers better through different APIs, “Chatbots” has become the buzzword these days. Many questions are arising about Chatbots: What actually the Chatbots are? How do they work? How are they build? Are Chatbots a big opportunity for businesses? All this will be discussed here.
What are Chatbots?
Chatbots are artificial intelligence systems that we interact with via text or voice interface. Those interactions can be straightforward, like asking a bot about weather report, or more complex, like having one troubleshoot a problem with your internet service. Chatbots are personal assistants that actually assist you. It could live in any major chat application like Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, Text Messages, etc. The idea is that these chatbots will eventually be a way to easily find anything without even having to do a Web search or open up multiple apps. For example, instead of calling a taxi from the Uber app, you get to call it directly from a Facebook messenger bot.
Some Chatbots example are:
- Weather Bots
- E-Commerce Bots
- Food Bots
- News Bots
- Banking and Trading Bots
- Sales and Marketing Bots
- HR and Operations Bots
- Customer Service Bots
With Bots, possibilities are endless; you can make bots for any kind of system that will reduce human pain and work.
Are chatbots really that intelligent? How do they answer questions we ask? No, they are not intelligent themselves, humans make them so. Chatterbots recognize keywords from the user’s input and access the database for giving a predefined response. For example, the user is sending a text that contains the word “car”. The chatbot will most likely ask something like:
“Which is the model of your car?”
“Can I know more about your car?”
From these simple responses, an illusion of understanding the input is created, even though only a keyword has been found and the response is from a predefined pattern has been sent to the user. The chatbot basically refers to the predefined set of libraries and APIs appended to it to check for the set of patterns that it can respond with. Every chatbot is built based on pattern-matching, but the intelligence of a chatbot depends on how human-like and intelligent these predefined patterns are and on how well the text from the user is understood.
Some chatbots function in an advanced manner using Machine Learning. This bot understands language and not just commands. This bot continuously gets smarter as it learns from the conversations it has with people.
Are chatbots a huge opportunity?
Messaging apps are now bigger than social networks. With the rise of messaging apps and chatbots, the way we are using social media to interact and share is changing.
Studies consistently show that smartphone users have condensed their time in some of their favorite apps. Now poeple are often limited to a browser, a couple of chat or social apps and maybe a few games. With shrinking opportunities to make money from mobile apps, developers are looking to chatbots as a new path. Chatbots are free to use, and we can chat with them by simply sending them a message as if they were a human user.
Improvements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Programming (NLP) has made it possible to use conversational language as command line making bots understand what we want and automate the execution of the command. As it is extended to messaging platforms, it’s possible to text our request and get the reply by an automated and scalable backend.
So yes, a big opportunity in messaging apps lies in finding the pain of people and solving their issues in areas where needed services don’t exist. But the challenge here is we need humongous amounts of data about consumer behaviors and preferences. At the early stages, there’s a high level of human involvement needed to train the AI bot about what the user is really asking and how to best solve their needs.
People are using Messaging apps more than social networks. So logically, if we want to build a business online then we need to build something that people want.
How are Chatbots build?
As discussed above, there can be 2 types of bots: one that follows rules and another, which is smarter, that does machine learning. So for building chatbots, one can take a rule-based approach where the developer will code rules for the system. Another approach is machine learning, which requires a massive amount of streaming data and the system will have to learn on its own. So developers will need to properly define machine learning parameters.
Chatbots can be built on different platforms. There are tons of resources to start with. Some of the available platforms are Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, etc. Chatbots can also be customized for your own applications according to the need.
The bottom line here is we will be looking closely at AI and messaging space in coming years. The emergence of new communication platform sparks innovation and opportunities. Overall, chatbots platform has some way to go before it becomes a replacement of websites. However, the platform is still in the budding stage, and eventually, chatbots will get better in understanding natural human languages. And with time, we may be assisted in all possible ways by an automated system or as we say a “Chatbot”.