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: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/bot-service/
I created an FAQ chatbot for one of my own products as a practical test, which you can see running live here: http://www.harpninja.com/wp/faqhelp/
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 https://qnamaker.ai
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: https://www.oreilly.com/ideas/bots-what-you-need-to-know , but I would definitely recommend Microsoft (the new Apple!).