Creating a Bot from Scratch vs Using a Bot Platform

The Bot Value Chain by Jean-Marc Ly

With the rise of bots, software designed to automate tasks (making a reservation, purchasing a product, distributing content, providing customer service or sending coupons), there is a degree of development knowledge needed to create intelligent, robust and scalable bots. By nature, bots are applications that live on top of existing communication channels that take advantage of their interface UI and adds NLU (Natural Language Understanding) to facilitate communication between the software and an individual.

Bot development differs from app development is many ways. Apps require proper planning, a specific designer for UX flow and platform specific building blocks. Bots on the other hand offer a more streamlined and linear execution. However, building a bot isn’t as simple as it looks. Let’s take a look at how bot development is done today and a new emerging development method.

Building a Bot from Scratch Today

Bots rely on several preparation steps to ensure a good working bot. You need to prepare the conversational script as part of your bot spec, the bot architecture and your development environment.

Spec & Conversational Script

The conversational script acts as use case of actual user conversation. Because most bots interact with users via a chat interface, the bot must guide the user toward the answer or task. The content of the script creates a context that relies on user behavior and add-on NLU (Natural Language Understanding).

System Environment & Configuration

Next you need to create the architecture and engineering design of the bot. You need to create both the back-end and front-end ranging from setting up the servers to the front-end conversational interface, user action and any computation needed. A developer will typically need to spin up their own servers, build, deploy and manually wire up the corresponding SDKs, incorporate NLU (Natural Language Understanding), fiddle with platform specific API, manage hosting and preparation of deployment package including processing of dependencies, test and deploy. These steps usually takes developers a bit to set up since there are many connecting interfaces, services, plugins and configurations. Will you manually host it yourself, use Amazon AWS (which requires configurations) or another service? Will you create a management interface to monitor your resource spent and key-value storage of your conversation history?

Bot Development

With your system configuration all set, you can now start building your bot. Use your conversational script to create a working bot while testing it to make sure it responds well and to check for any errors. This step is very straightforward as your spec guidelines gives you the skeleton of the bot.


Once you are satisfied with your bot, it is time to deploy it to your hosted environment. You need a stable hosting environment where the bot will reside that allows you enough flexibility to expand your hosting and monitor your bot/resource usage.

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The Future Voice of Companies are Bots

We think you should message a business just the way you would message a friend — Mark Zuckerberg.

Bots, simple computer programs used to perform tasks & engage with individuals, are at the forefront of customer engagement. As Mark Zuckerberg echoes, business will need to reinvent themselves to stay competitive, drive growth amidst a more global demand and increase business efficiencies to beat out the competition. With Facebook’s recent introduction of Discovery Tab in Facebook Messenger and the openness of the internet has given consumers more power and choices, a greater voice and the ability to interact directly with brands and corporations. Consumers are reaching directly to companies for brand advocacy, support and also negative feedback. How can enterprises cope with the growing usage of social media and many different channels to interact with their customers all over the world?

The New Frontier Of Customer Engagement

What is a bot?

For those of you new to this, let me explain what a bot is and where do they live. Skip over this section if you have read my previous blog post.

A bot is software designed to automate tasks such as making a reservation, adding a calendar appointment, purchasing a product, distributing content, providing customer service or sending coupons. Bots are designed to create a “conversation” that simulates chatting with a human. Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing systems are used to make a bot facilitate a more “natural” conversation between the machine and a human.

Where do bots live in?

Bots live primarily in messaging apps, on websites and mobile app, and IoT devices (Alexa, Google Home) which often is built around a conversational interface. As Facebook and other messaging platforms are launching their own bot store and discover bot platforms, consumer brands should take advantage of these channels to create business opportunities, branding outreach and consumer engagement vehicles.

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