How to build chatbots that actually work?

Today, Andrew from Grata and our guest DC from RIKAI Labs take us beyond the Chatbot hype: what does it take to create chatbots which have a real impact on your business?

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WeChat Official Accounts

Tencent Chatbot Platform Unveiled

Tencent Open Chatbot Platform

Tencent just unveiled their new chatbot developer open platform (机器人开放平台) at their Developer Conference in Fuzhou, China today.

You can apply for access online at via the Tencent Open Platform (not the WeChat Open Platform) and download the forty-three page developer documentation in Chinese. Based on the documentation, there’s not a lot that is new, as the semantic language processing interface has been available in WeChat for years via Tencent NLP.

Their website promotes the following platform features:

Voice/Image Processing

Advanced voice and image processing capabilities based on machine-learning processing hundreds of millions of daily requests.

Semantic Understanding

Automated sentiment analysis based on decades of research, big data and machine-learning processing ten billion daily requests.

Custom Scripts

Tools to help you quickly deploy dialogs for interactive conversation: what to say and how to say it for rich online interactions.

Data Analytics Console

Professional tools for analyzing bot data and statistics. Developers have easy access to traffic sources, user behaviors and characteristics, chat logs, and other data, to assist in optimizing operations.

Release Testing System

Mature, flexible software quality testing system. Get accurate data you can trust on new product features.

Fast Publishing

Convenient online application. One-click submission and results are live immediately after the review is finished.

Screenshots from the site, which look more like mockups than a live product, show examples of a movie ticket bot with buttons in the chat to book tickets:

Tencent Movie Chatbot
“Good afternoon, there are lots of big name films showing these days, are you interested in seeing any of them?”

A dining bot: “I found several restaurants nearby you, do any of these look good?”

Tencent Dining Chatbot

And of course, a Didi Dache bot for booking a cab:

Tencent Didi Chatbot

This is not an altogether unexpected move by Tencent, but up until today the story has been that the West misunderstood WeChat Official Accounts to be run primarily by chatbots. This confusion and the rollout of poor performing chatbots on Facebook Messenger were the subject of Grata’s keynote presentation at the CHat Beijing conference in April, and more recently at CHat Shanghai in September. It will be interesting now to see how WeChat and Western chatbots converge and diverge as they develop.


Global Messaging Trends

Grata had the honor of giving a keynote presentation on Global Messaging Trends at the CHat Beijing event April 26th, 2016. The event was well-timed, just two weeks after Facebook’s F8 developer conference which kicked off the chatbot hype cycle in Silicon Valley.
The full, annotated presentation can be viewed via SlideShare (VPN required):

Global Messaging Trends: WeChat, Facebook, Bots, and Apps from Andrew Schorr