Let’s not beat around the bush. No one wants to read large documents anymore, especially using mobile devices or cell phones. So, all the brochures, users manuals, hand books, training materials, and documents as such are becomming a majestic grave-yard of information. They are still being produced with the sad knowledge that very few people will read them.
Reading is OUT, Interacting is IN
The number of young people who declare reading as their “leasure activity” is declining in the world over the last few decades as claimed in a recent article. Technology is to be blamed. But instead of blaming technology or finding other excuses, we should look at it as a paradigm shift.
The short (recorded) history of human cognition shows tendency toward the tools of active learning (interactive) rather than old fashion, passive learning (reading).
Who wants to read a book about Abraham Lincoln if you can just talk to him. This is the new euphoria amplified with virtual reality, augmented reality, and chatbot technologies.
The Difference in a Nut Shell
The IRS publication 443, which talks about small business tax matters, is a PDF file. It is not a comfortable reading, as seen on the left below, especially when you are looking for something. On the right is a chatbot, called Terry Kohen, who prompts the user with navigatable options. Most importantly, you can ask questions at any time to see answers from the document. There are 4 more examples of how documents were replaced with chatbots at this link.
Don’t Write a Document, Write a Chatbot!
The chatbot technology is not yet matured enough to produce perfect results. However, some of the recent advances are at a point of making a difference in the enterprise world due to the fact that call centers have to answer questions that are already in such documents.
Here are the key factors that will determine the winners in the race of chatbot development platforms:
- Creating a chatbot should be as easy as writing a document, (or copying it to the platform) without any coding requirement.
- Chatbot development should not require instance-by-instance data entry for each step of conversation. It should be automated enough to create infinite conversation from the embedded content.
- It should not require long deployment cycles (as in neural network training) so that content can be modifed or new content can be added instantly.
- Chatbot solution should offer free expression of questions at every step of the way with answers (coming from the document) that are reasonably acceptable.
There are half a dozen platforms out there including Microsoft Bot Framework, IBM-Watson, Amazon-Lex, Google Chatbase, and Facebook Messenger Platform. None of them fits the requirements listed above, and they are not necessarily designed for the purpose of turning documents into chatbots. However, feel free to comment if these platforms were used for this objective (with examples), or other platforms worth mentioning for this cause.
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