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. You can even ask for the latest news rather than browsing for them. Chatbots are personal assistants that actually assists you. It could live in any major chat applications like Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, Text Messages, etc. The idea is that these chatbots will eventually be a way to easily find anything that we are looking for, without 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 Facebook messenger bot.
Couple of chatbot examples are –
With Bots possibilities are endless, you can make bots for any kind of system that will reduce human pain and work.
How does Chatbots work?
Are chatbots really that intelligent? How do they answer questions we ask for? No, they are not intelligent itself, humans make them do 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 to ask something like: “Which is the model of your car?” Or “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 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 build based on pattern-matching, but the intelligence of chatbot depends on how human-like and intelligent these predefined patterns are and on how good the text from the user is understood.
Some Chatbots functions in an advanced manner using Machine Learning. This bot understands language and not just commands. This bot continuously gets smarter as it learns from conversations it does 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 into some of their favorite apps, often a browser, a couple of chat, social apps and may be few games. With shrinking opportunities to make money from mobile apps, developers are looking forward 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 making bots do what we ask for. As it is extended to messaging platform, it’s possible to text our request and get the reply by an automated and scalable backend.
So yes, Chatbots 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 a humongous data about consumer behaviors and preferences. At early stages, there’s a high level of human involvement needed to train the AI bot about what the user is really asking for 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 than we want 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 other which is smarter does machine learning. So for building chatbots either take a rule-based approach, the developer will be coding rules for the system. Another approach can be machine learning, which requires a massive amount of steaming data and the system will have to learn on its own. So developers 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 we want by an automated system or as we say a “Chatbot”.