In the closing scene of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, the protagonist is forced to choose. The guarding knight of the grail says, “You must choose. But choose wisely, for as the true Grail will bring you life, a false one will take it from you!”
As CUI (Conversational User Interface) gains credence, clients are wondering, “How do I build an effective bot?” Several platforms are available today. This post is an attempt to help you choose the right platform for your next successful bot.
The crux of a bot is the ability to convert human input into machine comprehensible tokens. Human language varies widely based on literacy, demographics and conversational abilities. To handle these variations, the bot platform needs to include:
While NLP adds language comprehension skill, a bot needs more cognitive capabilities to serve customers smartly – capabilities include reasoning, pattern matching, learnability, perception. The bot platform can include these capabilities natively or through pluggable components allowing the developer to pick and choose. For instance, a bot can become adept at reading facial expression by using Face API.
Memory is yet another quality that a bot should possess. Akin to the human brain, memory can be:
The platform may allow usage of a cache grid or connecting to databases for persistent retention.
The platform should allow access to the bot through multiple channels – web, mobile, REST API or via popular IM front-ends such as Skype, WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. A contemporary bot platform also supports use of unconventional interfaces innovatively. For example:
In a connected world, bots cannot work in a silo and need to talk to existing systems, services and apps. The day is not far when bots will talk to each other. How easily does the platform support such scenarios? How well can the platform scale to support emerging use cases? Answering these questions reveals the strength of the platform.
In addition to the above key factors, a few other influencing aspects are:
There may not be a bot “holy grail”, but paying attention to these factors ensures you do not “choose poorly”. What have you chosen? We would like to know.