What are chatbots?
Chatbots, also known as smart bots, are flavour of the month in the tech community at the moment, but like many technologies, they are not an entirely new concept. The main reason they are currently making big waves is because they have become a lot smarter.
As technology evolves, so does technology's ability to provide humans with more efficient and effective ways to solve problems. Chatbots provide a mechanism for big brands and publishers to reach their users in new and innovative ways, and as traditional communication transitions to message-based communication, we see an increasing need for these smart bots in chat applications such as Slack, Facebook, WeChat and Kik.
Smart bots, artificially intelligent driven software, have the ability to learn over time, enabling them to provide more intelligent responses to the end user. I think we are quite some time away from these smart bots turning into Skynet with plans of destroying the human race, but we are at the beginning of a new era in technology.
My team and I specialise in Web Real-Time Communications (WebRTC) development and while WebRTC is not specifically related to artificial intelligence and chatbots, the use of artificial intelligence supplies us with innovative ways to provide enhanced communications within our clients’ applications.
WebRTC gives us the ability to add real-time communications capabilities to applications through the use of live audio and video streaming, screen sharing, secure document sharing, traditional telephony integration, and much more. As a result, we see chatbots becoming a big part of how companies will achieve enhanced customer services to their end users.
Imagine building a solution that allows your customers to engage with a chatbot to answer simple questions about their account. As the customer engages with the chatbot, certain triggers are identified in the conversation indicating that a live person is required to effectively address an issue.
The solution will escalate to the next level of interaction with a live person while capturing all of their questions and account information before they are transferred. Customers can transition seamlessly between chatbots and a real live person without even knowing the difference. Studies show that customers who receive great customer service have better brand loyalty which increases a company's bottom line.
What do developers need to know about chatbots?
When building applications, we first define the problem that we are trying to solve for our clients. In today’s technologically advanced world, that means thinking outside-the-box for ways to enhance user engagement without a need for increased human representation to field common inquiries.
Chatbots supply developers with a tool that provides smart and interactive responses to customers. However, chatbots are only as smart as their programming. Developers must continue to tweak and fine tune their algorithms over time to avoid situations such as Microsoft’s A.I. bot Tay where information 'learned' by the bot was corrupted by what it was taught on Twitter. Much of the news and press you will see related to chatbots focus on their integration into messaging applications, but we see these bots being integrated more cleverly into Internet of Things (IoT) devices and applications.
As our lives become one with the devices we use daily, we will witness a shift in the way we communicate and engage with our surroundings. Whether it is through human to human, human to machine, or machine to machine communication, it is clear we will soon be living in a world where artificial intelligent machines will become a normal part of life.
Lantre Barr is CEO and founder of Blacc Spot Media
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