Bots Big SXSW Moment: B2B, Best Practices, & Conversational Design

Bots are having their moment.

If bots were one of the hot buzzwords leading up to the 2017 installment of SXSW, then by all indications, they’re starting to, well, take over the convention spaces in Austin.

On the second day of the technology convention, sessions about bots were beyond well-attended, jammed with standing room crowds.

Need proof? Look no further than the first session of the day.

Bot Best Practices

As we figure out bots and where they fit in our personal and professional lives — it’s sort of a wild, wild west. We’re learning a lot, and it will take time for us to start adapting and evolving best practices.

One of the first sessions of the day is a perfect place to start.

Kik CEO, Omar Siddiqui and product manager, Laura Newton illustrated the importance of implementing best practices early in bot development. This is especially important whether you’re an individual bot creator or a company with hundreds of employees. One of the best ways to do that is to remember that bots are built around the way we all communicate with each other. No matter how big or small your bot project — we’re all talking about conversations.

Top four bot best practices:

1. Build for Conversations

When you are interacting with a user in a space they are used to talking to friends, coming in with a “wiz bang graphics experience when that’s not the way they are used to interacting isn’t going to be successful.” 

Instead, focus on the conversational experience for the user. “Conversations will become the new interface,” Laura Newton argues.

Examples of Conversational Bots:

Romance Now — provides different ways for users to experience a story in conversation format.

Statsbot for Slack — Shows you live analytics and stats so that your colleagues or work group can discuss.

 

2. Start Simple  

“Creativity Requires Constraint.”

When designing and developing bots, there’s an impulse to think about features, much like we would with an app. But there’s a need to focus.

Everyone had this impulse to handle all kinds of features, but you need to be focused and have a specific value add. If there’s one thing you can do well, you can still get users. Think about how your users can start that conversation. 

 

Example of bot simplicity:

Tic Tac Toe bot in Kik. It’s a bot with a bit of attitude. If you’re losing, it will actually make fun of you. If you make it wait, it gets annoyed. It’s simple — yet, entertaining. 

3. Know Your Audience

“Know your audience,” Omar says. “They all have a clearly delineated target. A Teen [on Kik] will not enjoy Statsbot. The platform on which the bot is being delivered is very relevant. A bot on Kik is a different personality than on Facebook.”

When your researching your audience remember these three points:

  • Different workflows
  • Different mindsets
  • Different audience

4. Be Social

Don’t focus on being the conversation — augment the conversation.

In terms of customer service, users expect to receive attention where they are. Whether that’s on Twitter or Facebook Messenger, Kik has proven a use case for when bots can help. Once again, if that’s the purpose, then focus on that specifically.

It’s important to be authentic on a consumer platform.

Platform Agnostic

 

Laura Newton sees a future that is very aligned with our Message.io’s mission:

“We want bots to work like the web, where you don’t have to build for a different platform like for iOS and Apple for mobile,” Laura says.

Well, we couldn’t agree more!

Bot Powers Work

 

Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of HubSpot, argued that bots are not just having a moment — they’re defining a very important chapter in technology.

Think about the evolution we’ve experienced in the last few decades.

As he explains, “this is not just a consumer phenomenon. Bots are in the workplace”

To prove his point — think about the following slide. How many of you use one of these at work?

What skills do you need to embrace this new future? There’s some important ones to focus on:

  • Data Science
  • Writing
  • Coding
  • Conversational UX

IBM Watson House

Our own Chris Traganos took a trip around the IBM Watson House, which was full of displays relating to AI, creativity and even an army of life-sized 3D-printed bots.

SXSW Day 3: Bot Sessions We’ll Follow

Will Bots Replace Bureaucracy?

Have a legal problem? Ask a robot. Helper bots are poised to do much more than order you a pizza.

Joshua Browder’s quest to help ordinary people navigate legal systems started because he was bad at parking. He knew how to program apps, so after successfully conquering the parking ticket system in his native London last year, he developed a simple chatbot that could walk his friends through the same process.

After appealing over 175,000 tickets and expanding to help the homeless, his chatbot marked the accidental beginning of a movement that Browder now leads: creating bots to help average citizens untangle legal systems.

Hear how advances in technology should worry lawyers.

Shop Shifting: How Tech is Changing Commerce

Imagine snapping a picture of a stranger’s coat and buying it online on the spot, or picking up a product—without ever pulling out your wallet—at a grab-and-go supermarket.

Those fantasies are fast becoming realities, and they’re powered by recent breakthroughs in A.I. and next-gen UX. These technologies will transform the way we shop, raising consumers’ expectations and forcing brands to continuously work to make shopping a better experience than ever before.

Join speakers as they demonstrate how upcoming advancements in A.I., AR, VR, bots and home assistants can be combined throughout the shopping process—from prediction to purchase—to delight customers and drive sales.

See Something Awesome — Share it With us!

If you want to share updates or follow along with us, check us out on Twitter and Facebook. We look forward to exploring this awesome new world of bots with you throughout the weekend. 

 

About Taylor Pipes