What Are Conversational Bots?

An Introduction to and Overview of AI-Driven Chatbots

What Are Conversational Bots?

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Artificial intelligence has made enormous progress in the last five years, and after a decade of texting and messaging on smartphones, people have become comfortable with conversational interfaces. Put together, those two trends mean we’ll soon be chatting with conversational bots: intelligent software designed to make you feel as though you’re talking to a real person. Chatbots are able to automate human tasks by translating fluidly between unstructured language and structured data. Imagine a customer service chat via instant message, email, or voice where the bot has answers before you can ask the question.

In this report, authors Jon Bruner and Mike Barlow examine the promise of chatbots, as well as the challenges they face. Driven by recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots have a bright future in customer relations, healthcare, games and entertainment, and worker productivity (picture a bot as your personal assistant). Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently declared that, "bots are the new apps."

Browse this report and explore today’s emerging chatbot landscape, including:

  • Why chatbots now?—Understand the factors behind the rise of bots, some of their use cases, and questions still to be answered.
  • Messaging platforms/frameworks for bots—Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Facebook Messenger, Google Now and Google Assistant, Microsoft Bot Framework, and more
  • AI Platforms and Frameworks for bots—Api.ai, Google TensorFlow, IBM Watson Conversation, Wit.ai, and scikit-learn
  • Real-world examples—Burger King, Fidelity Investments, Amtrak, Cobalt (CRM), Troops, and more

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Mike Barlow

Mike Barlow is an award-winning journalist, author and communications strategy consultant. Since launching his own firm, Cumulus Partners, he has represented major organizations in numerous industries.

Mike is coauthor of The Executive's Guide to Enterprise Social Media Strategy (Wiley, 2011) and Partnering with the CIO: The Future of IT Sales Seen Through the Eyes of Key Decision Makers (Wiley, 2007).

He is also the writer of many articles, reports, and white papers on marketing strategy, marketing automation, customer intelligence, business performance management, collaborative social networking, cloud computing, and big data analytics.

Over the course of a long career, Mike was a reporter and editor at several respected suburban daily newspapers, including The Journal News and the Stamford Advocate. His feature stories and columns appeared regularly in The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Miami Herald, Newsday and other major U.S. dailies.

Jon Bruner

Jon Bruner

Jon Bruner is a data journalist who approaches questions that interest him by writing and coding. Before coming to O'Reilly, where he is editor-at-large, he was data editor at Forbes Magazine. He lives in New York, where he can occasionally be found at the console of a pipe organ.