What is a conversational bot?
They are known as Conversational Bot, Chatbot, Automated Online Assistant, Chatterbot, Talkbot, Artificial Conversational Entity, or just Bot.
Essentially, a chatbot is a program that mimics human conversations. More advanced bots use AI techniques to behave in a more human way, for example to understand the user in natural language, generate narratives, detect emotions or speech like a person. This way, the interaction comes more intuitive and fluent. Some advantages:
- We feel more comfortable when interacting with this programs, as the interface is more natural for people
- We do not need to learn commands, menus or work flows
- Easy, people open an app and start talking
- Quick, people want to be answered immediately
- It is a way of connecting with your users without having to get them to install an app
- You can use your voice
Chatbots are not a new technology, we can say ELIZA was the first one, developed by Joseph Weizenbaum in 1966, although the first term Chatterbot seems to be coined in 1994 by Michael Mauldin, creator of the bot Julia.
Nowadays we have more sophisticated bots everywhere, but they are mainly developed for customer service and marketing. During the last year, some companies are investing and working on bots to exploit many other areas: ticket selling, flight status, dating, weather, toys, games, etc.
I have to say chatbots have not always been successful.
In 1996 Microsoft introduced the famous Clippy chatbot in Office 2000, but it was a failure and users considered him annoying.
There was a couple of reasons for this failure, both artificial intelligence and humans were not prepared for these new interactions.
The value offered by the bot to the user was not perceived, mainly because the interaction was not very natural. And users at that time were not accustomed to digital assistants, and Clippy was seen more as something funny than useful, and after some cool tricks it became annoying and Microsoft removed it from the product.
For the first time, messaging apps are more popular than social networks:
AI technologies are ready, there is an app saturation (people use less apps but spend more time on them). Current trends show the future could be progressing like this:
Why starting with Telegram?
Although WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app in Spain and Europe, and thus my first option, at this moment they do not allow bots. The other messaging app I use often is Telegram, and compared to other messaging platforms, it’s simple, secure, free, and it has very powerful features for bots.
Juan Gerardo Cabeza