Chatbot development with Azure Bot Service

Chatbot development and deployment

There’s a lot of hype at the moment about AI in general, and chatbot’s being the next big “app market”. Reality is the tech is still very immature and there are not a lot of use cases where the chatbot workflow is a better UX than simple point and click with a well defined menu and information architecture.

FAQ’s are an important corner of the customer support sector and is one area where they may have use so I decided to test out Microsoft’s bot service, which is still in preview mode:

I created an FAQ chatbot for one of my own products as a practical test, which you can see running live here:
As you can see from the image there’s quite a bit to it, architecturally and technology wise, with a number of different services from NLU (Natural Language Understanding) to the bot development to connecting various user touchpoint services. There are a number of different types of bots you can implement and an FAQ bot is best implemented using another service they have called

Overall it’s a pretty nice developer workflow considering the different services they have hooked up to make the development and deployment a relatively painless experience. This FAQ chatbot is using their inbuilt web chat preview which made it a snap to integrate into WordPress without having to code up a plugin. The bot has also been deployed to Skype, Slack, and Facebook Messenger.

There’s a lot of different options for developing chatbots, which this article gives a great overview of: , but I would definitely recommend Microsoft (the new Apple!).

Cognitive Technology – a Quickstart Guide Infographic

“I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that” HAL 9000

Cognitive Technology, Smart Apps, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence…the list of new technology buzz goes on and on.

But what do they actually mean?

Cognitive Technology Infographic

Here’s an infographic to help explain what Cognitive Technology is and how it can be applied for business use.

The use cases are many and varied, depending on your business needs.

  • Expert systems
  • Autonomous vehicle control on Land. Sea, and Air
  • Robotics
  • Sales and inventory forecasting
  • Price modeling
  • Image, video, and handwriting recognition
  • Text and document analysis for classification, concept, and sentiment extraction
  • Customer segmentation and market analysis
  • Social network analysis for brand and product affinity
  • Anomaly detection for fraud and other behavior patterns

There are also many vendors in this space ranging from the big 4

  • IBM
  • Microsoft
  • Google
  • Amazon

to many smaller players focused on providing different levels of service.

Image Credit: Evolution by Jakob Vogel from the Noun Project

Cognitive Technology Quickstart Infographic

Cognitive Technology Quickstart Infographic

3 Key Reasons Digital Transformation Projects Fail

Digital Strategy drives Digital Transformation, not Technology

Digital technology changes quickly, and this can impact your business dramatically if you’re not ready.
Digital Transformation is the process of taking your Digital Strategy and applying it to your business.

However, over 70% of Digital Transformation efforts fail to achieve their goals or a solid return on investment.

This free white paper highlights 3 key reasons why Digital Transformation efforts fail.

Download Sonicviz_DigiTrans3KeyFailures now to avoid making the same mistakes.

Technology is Changing The World of Work

The speed of technology change is happening faster than ever before. The social change as a result creates both opportunities and threats.

The impact on business can be seen in areas from recruitment to customers to operations.

What is your Digital Strategy in response to these forces?




How the World of Work is Changing [Infographic] by Next Generation

Image credit: Development by Kevin Augustine LO


Quickstart Digital Strategy

A quickstart course on Digital Strategy to learn how to successfully transform your business with digital technologies.

Learn the concepts, processes, and tools to create a Digital Strategy for your business.

Available now at

Transform your business with Digital Technologies with this introductory course on Digital Strategy.

  • Learn the key elements of digital strategy
  • Discover how to assess your digital readiness
  • Create a digital strategy
  • Practice evaluating digital suppliers
  • Grasp Implementing a Digital Transformation
  • Find out how to create a culture of innovation

Digital Strategy drives Digital Transformation, not Digital Technology.

This introductory course is for small to medium business owners and employees who need to transform their business digitally but are overwhelmed by the speed of technology change & choice in front of them.  You’ll learn about how to successfully leverage digital technologies effectively and efficiently in order to better serve your customers and grow your market.

Content and Overview

This course contains over 30 lectures and over 2.5 hours of video content. It’s designed for small to medium business owners and employees who want to transform their business by integrating Digital Technologies such as social, mobile, analytics, VR, AR, 3D Printing, sensor networks and the internet of things, SaaS, and cloud technologies such as big data and machine learning.

We’ll cover what Digital Strategy and Digital Transformation is, what the key elements of Digital strategy are, and how to assess what level of Digital Readiness your business is at by learning how to to a Digital Audit.

Then we’ll go through the process for creating a Digital Strategy, starting with your purpose and working through a lean and agile business planning approach suited for the fast changing digital technology environment of today. We’ll then see how to evaluate different types of suppliers of Digital Technologies before moving on to showing you how to manage the process of implementing a Digital Transformation.

Finally we’ll wrap up with a look at how to create and foster a culture of innovation in your business, essential for companies that need to remain responsive and agile to meet current customer needs and as well as develop new products and services.

By the end of this course, you’ll have valuable skills that will help you create a Digital Strategy for your own business as well as understand how to implement Digital Transformation projects to integrate new technologies into your products, services, and operations.

What are the requirements?

  • Access to the internet
  • Basic business knowledge
  • Basic computer skills
  • Basic Internet skills

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Over 46 lectures and 3.5 hours of content!
  • Understand Key Definitions
  • Understand the key elements of a Digital Strategy
  • Conduct a digital audit to assess Digital Readiness
  • Create a Digital Strategy
  • Evaluate Digital Suppliers
  • Implement Digital Transformation
  • Create a Culture of Innovation

Who is the target audience?

  • Small to medium business owners and employees who need to transform their business digitally but are overwhelmed by the speed of technology change & choice
  • This is a practical introductory course so is not for you if you are looking for a detailed theory course on Digital Strategy

Meteor.js – A New Paradigm for Connected Client Apps

I recently wrote a high level overview of Meteor and evaluating it for your project’s use case.

“Meteor.js is one of the most exciting new developments in the continually evolving technology landscape for full-stack web & hybrid app developers.

Sometimes, the incremental and never-ending changes of web tools and platforms build up over time and collide with user expectations. Multiplied by market forces they produce a radical shift in the technology approach to solving user problems. The last time this happened with the web was the late 90’s transition from static websites to database driven ones. We are now in the early stages of another one of these paradigm shifts.”

Download it as a pdf -> meteor_platform_evaluation

[ Originally posted on the Ziptask blog @ Meteor.js – A New Paradigm for Connected Client Apps ]

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