What are Chatbots?
A chatbot is a service, powered by rules and sometimes artificial intelligence, that you interact with via a chat interface. The service could be any number of things, ranging from functional to fun, and it could live in any major chat product (Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, Text Messages, etc.). Most chatbots learn from past conversations and don’t just answer questions about whether or not you need to bring an umbrella on your commute (though they can do that, too).
Chatbots can start anticipating what we’ll ask them because of their artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. They won’t just serve up answers, but make suggestions before we even ask.
Why are Chatbots gaining traction?
Gartner projects that more than 85% of customer interactions will be managed without a human by 2020; and chatbots are expected to be the number one consumer application of AI over the next five years. If those numbers don’t sway you, then perhaps this will: Your competitors are already on board with bots and using them to build an army of loyal, engaged customers through interactive self-service and innovative relationship-building programs.
For example, Taco Bell’s TacoBot lets customers order on Slack chat. The beauty brand giant Sephora lets customers skip a trip to the store by fulfilling makeup orders on the messaging app Kik. And Ticketmaster customers can now use a new website chat widget (built on the Chatbot Development Platform from Inbenta, a pioneer in natural language processing, and AI technologies for customer support and enterprise e-commerce) to ask questions regarding their order or learn about other events of interest through the automated recommendations function.
Examples of creative bot use abound and businesses not willing or able to get ahead of the trend risk losing otherwise loyal customers to more dynamic, inventive competitors.
Platforms for developing chatbots
- Microsoft Teams
- Chatscript – Chatbot engine
- Facebook Messenger
- Google Assistant (available on Allo app & Pixel phones only)
Technical Tools Overview
Of the development tools available, focus on these four:
Redis is an open source software project (sponsored by Redis Labs) that implements data structure servers. It is networked, in-memory, and stores keys with optional durability.
RabbitMQ is open source and commercially supported messaging for applications. It is easy to use, runs on all major operating sytems and supports a huge number of developer platforms.
Node.js and MongoDB
The programming language we used was node.js with MongoDB as a backend database.