Photograph of Women Working at a Bell System Telephone Switchboard, circa 1945.
Photograph of Women Working at a Bell System Telephone Switchboard, circa 1945. (source: The U.S. National Archives on Flickr).

In this episode of the O’Reilly Bots Podcast, Pete Skomoroch and I speak with Amir Shevat, head of developer relations at Slack and the author of the forthcoming O’Reilly book Designing Bots: Creating Conversational Experiences.

We often talk about consumer bots on the podcast, but workplace bots are arguably a more attractive market for the time being. Companies are able to drive adoption by fiat (“all employees are now required to file TPS reports through the bot”), and bots can draw on large volumes of well-linked internal data in ERP systems, calendars, and so on.

Slack is principally a workplace messaging platform, so we kick off our conversation with Shevat by talking about design considerations for workplace bots and bots that can work with groups of human users. We also cover the recent release of Slack Enterprise Grid, a new Slack offering for very large companies with up to half a million users.

Discussion points:

  • Developing bots for very large installations
  • How bot developers can test bots for the enterprise
  • Slack’s January release of threaded conversations and its impact on bot development (see Shevat’s VentureBeat post “Building better bots with threads” for more details)
  • The state of conversational AI: Shevat describes two types of conversations—“topical” (for which a great deal of AI is necessary) and “task-led” (which needs less AI)

Other Links: