Have you noticed things have gone a little quiet on the Chatbot front lately?
What happened – is the party over before it even began?
Far from it – but what businesses are beginning to realise, and developers are likely to have known for a while, is that building a “good” chatbot takes time, brains and imagination.
Although it’s not so complicated to build a basic chatbot (check out the guides on Facebook, or for our money, Microsoft’s bot developer guides and framework are the best we’ve encountered so far), building a bot that genuinely enhances a customer’s experience is an altogether tougher ask.
That’s why the news that SAScon, a renowned search, analytics and social media conference which will take place in Manchester on 16th-17th June this year, will become the first conference to be supported by a comprehensive Facebook Messenger Bot, is worth paying close attention to.
The event’s organisers say the chatbot will be able to deliver automated support, information and interactive experiences, and connect and interact with delegates.
“SASbot”, which has been designed by myclever™ Lab the innovation hub of myclever™ Agency, begins by learning delegate’s names, and will be able to answer a range of questions about the event, such as who is speaking and where, where the best parking can be found, and crucially, the time and place of the next coffee break!
The bot will use its gleaming new send / receive API to provide images, links, and calls to action, can talk to Twitter, and deliver the kind of rich, interactive experiences we have all been waiting for.
Says Jim Meadows, Head of Product at myclever™ Lab, “SASbot has had to learn just shy of 800 variations, meaning it is a rather comprehensive Facebook Messenger bot.”
Richard Gregory, co-founder at SAScon added; “we are proud to be leading the way in this arena, becoming the first UK conference to offer this experience.”
It’s all very well Mark Zuckerberg and Cheryl Sandberg taking to stages around the world and proclaiming the age of the Chatbot is here; what was needed was a dash of inspiration and application to actually bring these technically complex beings to life.
So congratulations to SAScon, and to myclever™ Lab, for taking on the challenge, mastering the Wit.AI and LUIS language functionality (which is how Bots hold conversations), and succeeding!
These early stage developments and milestones are crucial to the creation of, let’s call it, AI-as-a-service. Without the efforts of people like SAScon’s organisers and myclever™ Lab, the Chatbot revolution would be over before it had begun.
But thanks to them, the next time you attend conference, you may find you’ll be making space in your laptop bag for your own personal, Augmented Reality avatar, dancing in your hand and enthusiastically telling you all the about the event and where to stop for food and refreshments.
Alternatively, you could just bring your kids with you!