Chatbots – bringing smartness into your business

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The Conversational User Interface, or CUI, has arrived and is here to stay. The Mobile first to AI first day reached. With machine learning and AI being deputed to make our lives easy for the businesses – these chat bots are extremely becoming attractive to bring the intelligent systems to their core software stack.
With chat bots already in the market, several of them are offering to do things for us through our various communication channels. A series of personal agent services have emerged that leverage machines, humans or both to complete tasks for us such as, Clara Labs, Fancy Hands, Task Rabbit, Facebook “M”, to quote some examples…

The most important question – why businesses should pay attention?

Conversation-driven UI now enables us to do everything from grabbing a taxi, paying the electricity bill or sending money to a friend. Various examples of existing chat bots such as Siri, Google Now and Cortana demonstrate value to millions of people every day – particularly on mobile devices, as the CUI can be superior to the GUI or complementing it. With these bots, any business can adopt new level of communication and engage their customers in a much wider way than they ever could.
With the cutting-edge technology, personal assistants, the bots and conversation agents are rapidly becoming an integral part of one’s digital experience – they are as vital a way for user to interact with a service or an application, as is a web site or a mobile experience. So how to make a next chat bot for your customers giving them a next level digital experience?

Let’s now explore how to build chat bots with Microsoft’s Bot Framework in the next few sections.
What is Microsoft Bot Frame work?

Microsoft Bot Framework, is a comprehensive offering to build and deploy high quality bots for your users to enjoy in their favorite conversation experiences. All the developers writing bots face these similar problems as mentioned below:

  • Bots require basic I/O,
  • They must have language and dialog skills,
  • They must be performant, responsive and scalable and
  • They must connect to users – ideally in any conversation experience and language the user chooses. Bot Framework provides just what you need to build, connect, manage and publish intelligent bots that interact naturally wherever your users are talking – from text/sms to Skype, Slack, Facebook Messenger, Kik, Office 365 mail and other popular services.
Language Understanding Intelligent Services (LUIS)

One of the key problems in human-computer interactions is the in-ability of the computer to understand what a person wants. LUIS is designed to enable developers to build smart applications that can understand human language and accordingly react to its user requests. With LUIS, a developer can quickly deploy an HTTP endpoint that will take the sentences which were sent to it interpreting them in terms of their intents (the intentions they convey) and entities (key information relevant to the intent).
By using LUIS web interface, you can create an application, with a set of intents and entities that are relevant to your application’s domain. For example, in a travel agent app, a user might say an utterance like “Book me a ticket to Paris”. In this utterance, there is the intention to “Book Flight” and “Paris” is the entity. Intention or the intent can be defined as the desired action and usually contains a verb, in this case “book”. The entity is a relevant information of a specific data type, in this case “Paris” is the location entity.
Once your application is deployed and traffic starts to flow into the system, LUIS uses active learning to improve itself. In the active learning process, LUIS identifies the utterances that it is relatively unsure of, and asks you to label them according to intent and entities. This has tremendous advantages; LUIS knows what it is unsure of, and asks for your help in the cases which will lead to the maximum improvement in system performance. LUIS learns quicker, and takes the minimum amount of your time and effort. This is active machine learning at its best.

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Who are the target users for the Bot Framework? How will they benefit?

The Bot Framework is targeted at developers who want to create a new service with a great bot interface or enable an existing service with a great bot interface.
All the developers writing bots all face the same problems such as:

  • bots require basic I/O,
  • They must have language and dialog skills,
  • They must be performant, responsive and scalable and
  • They must connect to users – ideally in any conversation experience and language the user chooses. The Bot Framework provides tools to address these problems while also providing a way for users to discover, try, and add bots to the conversation experiences they love via the Bot Directory.

As a participant in the Bot Framework, you may also take advantage of:

  • Auto-configured Skype channel and Web channel,
  • Embeddable Web chat control,
  • Automatic card normalization so your bot is responsive across channels,
  • The Direct Line API which can be used to host your bot in your app,
  • De-bugging tools including the Bot Framework Emulator (online/offline), and
  • Powerful service extensions to make your bot smarter through Cognitive Services such as LUIS for language understanding,
  • Translation for automatic translation to more than 30 languages, and FormFlow for reflection generated bots.
Deep dive as a developer

If you are a developer, you can get started by visiting the Bot Framework site. To register a bot in the Developer Portal, you’ll need a Microsoft account. The Bot Builder SDK is open source and available to all on Github.
We also have guides to get started building a bot using Node.js, .NET or REST API:

  • Get started with the Bot Builder – Node.js.
  • Get started with the Bot Builder – .NET.
  • Get started with the Bot Builder – REST API.

At Mobinius, we are exploring the chatbots and adopting it into our global customer base. With the advancements of artificial intelligence, and Mobile first to AI first world have begun and more and more business shall explore the chatbots in years ahead to come.
Thinking about automating your conversation?? Well, for more info @CAWI™, please feel free to visit us at
Author: Praneeth

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