4 Replies Latest reply on Apr 23, 2017 4:18 PM by Smiers

    Chatbots: Are You Talkin' the Talk, Walkin' the Walk?

    Bob Rhubart-Oracle

      tiny_wooden_robot_350.pngThey can't mow your lawn or vacuum your floors, but Chatbots are making an impact on how people interact with technology, and they're certainly generating a lot of virtual ink. But are they showing up on your radar as an architect or developer?

       

      For my next Oracle Magazine column I want to explore Chatbots where the rubber meets the road for those directly involved in designing and building enterprise solutions. As usual, I rely on your insight and experience in telling that story. Your responses to the following questions will provide both background and direct content for my article.

       

      1. Are you currently involved in the development of chatbots or in the planning of any chatbot projects?
      2. What steps have you taken to prepare yourself for such projects?
      3. What unique challenges have you encountered (or do you anticipate) in chatbot development?
      4. What tools or technologies are involved in your chatbot development?

       

      Responses to these questions may be quoted in the article. Any quoted material will be fully attributed.

       

      In order to be considered for inclusion in the article, responses must be posted by May 1, 2017.

        • 1. Re: Chatbots: Are You Talkin' the Talk, Walkin' the Walk?
          JRSim_UIX

          fb.pngHi Bob;

           

          The Fishbowl team has  built a chat bot named "Atlas", which was initially developed as a entry for Fishbowl’s annual hackathon event. We are now using it internally to help to build up its intelligence through machine learning and natural language understanding capabilities. Once we feel Atlas has built up enough wisdom, we plan to release him  as an offering with integrations for SaaS and PaaS applications. He'll also be at our demo booth at Oracle OpenWorld (booth 5527 – Moscone West) if you'd like to chat to him. If he's busy, we will also have Amazon Alexa on hand to connect with him and pass on tasks.

           

          We took the  the time to research the best cloud platform that we could easily integrate with and deliver Atlas from. Our goal from the beginning was to make an intelligent bot and not simply an  - “if-then-else” bot. We also wanted to write a user flow and look at common tasks where we could abstract the user interface and do the interactions through user intents. Our intent here was to enhance the user experience to quickly access content and get tasks completed effectively without going through a click form filling process stream.

           

          We had a lot of fun developing Atlas, but we also encountered some challenges. –The biggest ones were multilingual support and connecting user credentials so that Atlas only retrieves relevant info for the user.

           

          We are now looking at areas where we can enhance Atlas, such as an administrative interface to allow users to review mapped credentials and his offerings/capabilities from outside of the chat window on Facebook & Slack.

           

          The Fishbowl team is currently  using the Google Cloud platform to deliver Atlas from and integrate with Oracle PaaS & SaaS and on prem applications.
          We are excited about the future for Atlas and the use cases for bots overall.
          Who knows, bots could replace mobile apps? We shall see…

          • 2. Re: Chatbots: Are You Talkin' the Talk, Walkin' the Walk?
            Lucas Jellema

            Hi Bob,

             

            We are not currently involved in chatbot development. We are looking somewhat more broadly to alternative interaction channels for users with systems - including voice recognition/speech capture (followed by largely the same logic that sits behind a chatbot).

             

            We have a number of use cases where data capture is too cumbersome or time consuming for end users which results in relevant information not gathered. Lowering the threshold for the end users to easily feed data in - understanding the user, providing smart defaults based on rich context knowledge about the users, their location, their schedule, customers etc. from back end systems - is a very real challenge, related at least to the chat bot challenge.

             

            Real time interpretation of input, given the current context and the preceding interaction, is the key.

             

            kind regards,

             

            Lucas

            • 3. Re: Chatbots: Are You Talkin' the Talk, Walkin' the Walk?
              Rolando Carrasco

              Hi Bob.

               

              First of all, the chatbots for my organization are highly relevant because of our background on service orientation. Chatbots can be a channel that originates something within an organization.  In the way they can learn, most sophisticated actions can be taken. So that make them very appeling for me and my team.

              It is true that we haven't implemented a project with them, but we do make research and some type of development around it to be prepared with Demos or even with some common scenarios that I think could be interesting for different customers in different industries.

               

              Another important thing is that chatbots are a technology piece for Digital Transformation. For example: in public sector. They can use it to enable an online channel  for assitance. A citizen can actually trigger a process while using the chatbot. That is good for the citizen and for the government in many ways. For the citizen since that will allow him to do something from his couch instead to make a line on a government facility; and for the government since that will reduce the ammount of onsite assitance and can actually extend the attention hours.

               

              For that to happen, the government institution should had some service in place, and there is wherre our experience is very valuable. That is why we see this topic as a very interesting one.

               

              Regarding your questions:

              Are you currently involved in the development of chatbots or in the planning of any chatbot projects?

              A. Planning and lookink for opportunities

              What steps have you taken to prepare yourself for such projects?

              A. Internal research. Demos. Labs. Creating some videos to create awareness in the community

              What unique challenges have you encountered (or do you anticipate) in chatbot development?

              A. As any technology, my primary concerns are around reliability, availability, scalability. And in particular, the algorithyms related with the machine learning inside the bot. Which is instrinsicaly related with reliability. Because if the chatbot is not reliable, the process that it can trigger will be wrong, and then a lot of problems may ocuur

              What tools or technologies are involved in your chatbot development?

              A. Service Orientation. Java SE. Some Javascript.

               

              Thank u

               

              best regards

              Rolando

              • 4. Re: Chatbots: Are You Talkin' the Talk, Walkin' the Walk?
                Smiers
                1. Are you currently involved in the development of chatbots or in the planning of any chatbot projects?
                  Related to Oracle technology we are starting a project for the Dutch Police (the Oracle Intelligence Bot is still not available). With other technologies we have already implemented chatbot projects at our customers.
                2. What steps have you taken to prepare yourself for such projects?
                  Designing a project for Chatbots is different then a ‘standard’ User Interface project (whether this is a Web Application or an App). The focus is on conversation rather then on a transaction. Chatbots are another channel in the interaction with customer, with the primary focus on delivering a 'fast track' for providing answers or enabling transactions 
                3. What unique challenges have you encountered (or do you anticipate) in chatbot development?
                  We encounter two main challenges, understanding the conversation and meeting expectations
                  1. Understanding the conversation.
                  How many ways are there to say ‘My Bicycle is stolen’? My bike is stolen, My tandem is gone, somebody nicked my iron horse etc. With bots you need to able to understand the intent of a sentence, in singularity and in context of a conversation.
                  2.The expectation level of the end-users and the companies are sky high. Chatbots are expected to deliver NLP and AI in every possible way. So we need to tone down the user expectations. That is why we have created a Chatbot Maturity model, to provide a roadmap and make it clear what can be expected in the first and consequent releases.
                4. What tools or technologies are involved in your chatbot development?
                  From a technology perspective different technologies support NLP capabilities, such as Apache Open NLP and Stanford NLP. These tooling can be implicitly available in tooling (such as the Intelligent Bot Services), bit also explicitly used when calls via API’s are made to enrich the conversation. These API calls need to be fed with the proper information from the question sentence in order to provide the right answer.
                  From a design perspective a conversation focused design is used.