The Bot 101 [ Part 1 ]

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While bots are an awesome new user interface, they are not suitable for every use case.

For me bot is new word, on first time I spelt bolt. But thanks too internet era, the public search engine corrected me like my old math school teacher. Bot is awesome, and he is my one of best friend and companion.

So designing bots is a new skill; and while bots are an awesome new user interface, they are not suited for every use case, and we will need to learn how to use bots successfully.

Bots are the future of Software! And at very basic level, bots are a fresh user interface. This fresh user interface lets users interact with services and brands using their favorite messaging apps. It’s now called CUI, not VUI or GUI. CUI – Conversational User interface, VUI – Voice user Interface, GUI – Graphical User Interface. And bots are a new way to expose services through a conversational interface. In many places the Bots are sometimes called conversational agents, conversational interfaces, chat agents, and chat bots.

And in layman language the bot is only an interface for any software services, in the similar way how a website will be an interface for booking a cab. Below are evolution of Conversational Interface,

And not all bots are born the same; they are differ from one another in many features. We have many types of bots as like below in the segments of B2B and B2C business,

Bot Types:

personal bot is also called as direct message bot or sometimes it’s called private bot; which is a bot that is serving as a personal assistant to individual. E.g. H&M, Lark

team bot facilitates team processes and activities for specific to team. E.g. Lunch Train, Kip

A domain-specific bot exposes a single service, or it expose to product or brand. Airline-bot

A super bot, on the other hand is a single bot that facilitates and exposes multiple services or sometimes its brands. E.g. Allo

Consumer bots need to be memorable with special attentions. E.g. Mitsuku

Business bots need to be as transparent and minimal as possible with classical and business touch E.g. howdy, lawgeex,

Text bots usually manifest themselves in chat apps. Examples are Slack, Facebook, Telegram, Kik.

Voice bots are enabled by voice command or sometimes by a button click that initiates the conversation, and the conversations are usually in the format of short commands or even question and answer.  Examples are Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant.

Integration bots is that we will be having core service that is will not going away anytime soon, and this will be naturally published with the legacy system, and the major challenge is which part of the functionality should we expose in this bot and usually the Integration bots starts with very light functionality.  E.g. Salesforce

And the new bots are the primary interface of a new service or with its product. And here major challenge will be how can we expose all of the functionality we need in a conversational interface. In other words simply the minimum viable product (MVP) approach applies to these new bots E.g. Growbot

Bot Platforms:

We have five types of platforms for each specific use cases as below, have to choose the right platform to build our bots.

Slack, The Business Bot Platform

Facebook Messenger, The Consumer Bot Platform

Alexa, The Voice Bot Platform

Kik, The Teen’s Bot Platform

Email, SMS, The Legacy Bot Platform

Parameters to choose the bot platform:

Choosing the bot platform is now two stage process like below,

1.       Evaluation Stage [[Audience > Consumer or Business, Feature Availability, Preferred Devices]]

2.       Validation Stage [[ Potential Users ]]

Hence choosing the right platform to run our bot on is a critical factor to the success of our bot and our business.

Bot Anatomy at Ten Thousand feet high!

Bots are actually software powered users that live inside our chat apps and we do converse and interact with bots using text, buttons, voice, and other very rich tools and controls. In simple way when comes to bots, software meets humans on our playing field.

Thanks for the reading the Part I of The Bot, and we will be having series Part II, III, and IV in due course. And the conclusion is bots are a great new hammer, but not everything’s a nail; so we need to explore which use cases are better for this new and great interface. And with bots any enterprise or business can have their engagements with higher degree and value; hence the right bots are bringing best values.



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