Chatbot

Chatbots – a botched play or a game changer?

A lot has been said and written about chatbots. After the Silicon Valley hype in 2016, the hue and cry over chatbots seems to have slightly died down now. Well, Facebook’s announcement of a 70% failure rate  dampened the expectations of most.  In fact, we tried a few of the bots on Facebook’s messenger bot platform, and while they were great initially, bots sometimes just don’t get it.

 

Microsoft’s Tay didn’t fare well either, with the bot running rogue on Twitter, sending out racist tweets after some of the users manipulated it. The other bots are in various stages of progress with majority of them not being able to process empathy, sarcasm and other everyday elements in human interaction.

Bots – the future of customer engagement

While Facebook’s announcement served as a major wake up call, the chatbots race is far from over. Gartner predicts that by 2020, customers will manage 85 percent of their relationship with a company without interacting with a single human. The era of Conversations as a Platform is rolling in. As Satya Nadella, CEO Microsoft said at the Toronto World Partner Conference event last year:

Chatbots fundamentally revolutionize how computing is experienced by everybody. Pretty much everyone today who’s building applications, whether they be desktop apps, or mobile apps, or websites, will build bots as the new interface.

Microsoft has certainly begun roll out, as could be seen on Skype. We spotted quite a few chatbots, ranging from weather, news, virtual assistant to games. To further prove that chatbots are far from over, Google has announced impetus to its AI and Machine Learning initiatives in the recently held Google I/O 2017 event. As more and more tech giants venture into the Chatbot landscape, the bot party is far from over. In fact, Markets and Markets estimates the Chatbots market to reach $ 3,172 Million by 2021.

How can businesses benefit from chatbots?

Omnichannel has been the war cry of businesses for a long time. Today, businesses connect with customers over websites, apps, social media, TV, Emails, etc. In the early 2000s, SMS was all the rage and businesses tapped it to engage with customers via notifications and promo ads. So heavy has been the onslaught that SMS is now perhaps experiencing the messaging equivalent of banner blindness. The latest medium to interact with customers, is where they spend the most of their time – Messaging platforms. Following the shift from SMSs to IMs, businesses can also jump onto the chatbot bandwagon to use messengers for customer interaction.

Three main ways in which businesses use chatbots:

Customer Support

Giving out routine information. Chatbots can dispense frequently asked information. Instead of flipping through FAQs, customers can quickly state their requirements and get answers from the bot.

Shopping Assistant

Helping customers discover and order products that best suits their needs. We used this Yatra Bot to check for flights tonight from Bangalore to New Delhi.

 

Payments

Helping make quick payments via secure gateways. Payjo is an Indian bot on Messenger that helps users recharge prepaid phones online and pay for DTH and postpaid bills via bot.

 

These are just three use cases of how businesses can use chatbots. There are hundreds of scenarios that are being tackled daily, with more bots joining the rank.

Benefits of using chatbots are:

  • Reduces manual efforts expended for routine tasks
  • 24×7 support made available to customers
  • Obtain more sales leads

 

While chatbots are in primitive state (as far as this technology is concerned) and need lots of improvement to be widely used, we are on the right path towards increased customer engagement. As AI technology develops, chatbots will have a better understanding of human nature and converse at par with humans. It is too early to say, but one day we just might be able to get them pass the Turing test with flying colors, and be worthy of the Loebner Prize.

At AgilizTech, we believe that chatbots are going to be the medium of B2C and B2B conversation in the near future. We’re exploring this exciting new realm of possibilities and are gearing up to leverage AI and Machine Learning to build revolutionary chatbots.

summer-internship-at-agiliztech

Campus to corporate – a glimpse of summer internship at AgilizTech

Internships is one of the key things that differentiate a fresher’s resume from a hundred others. More and more students are realizing this and taking the initiative to engage in productive, experiential internships while pursuing graduation. This summer, we had four promising interns from the coastal haven of Karnataka, Mangalore. Akshay, Alok, Ananthu and Arjun, the third-year students from NMAM Institute of Technology, Mangalore, joined our 40-day program of summer internship at AgilizTech.

About the project

The interns worked on AgilizTech’s in-house product, Stepout2Play. Under the mentorship of Shyamraj Sampath, the Technical Manager and the able guidance of Guddu Kumar and Niraj Kumar, Software Engineers working on the project, the four interns learnt to efficiently structure and modularize code for the web-based project. They worked extensively on the Java Play framework, JavaScript, JQuery, HTML5 and CSS3, to build applications for Stepout2Play.

Adapting to startup culture

While AgilizTech by itself has a very cheerful work atmosphere, the interns certainly added their charm. They took the initial ice-breaking session of stand-up performance in their stride, with one of the interns even mimicking the seniors! Balancing their playful nature with their dedication and commitment, they adapted themselves to AgilizTech’s lively startup culture – even burning midnight oil to meet the project deadlines.

The interns at AgilizTech Second Anniversary Party. Summer internship at AgilizTech.

The interns at AgilizTech Second Anniversary Party

The journey – from amateurs to professionals

As Shyamraj says, “When they first came in, they were unaware of coding standards and best practices. But they were eager to learn. They were like fresh clay, ready to absorb knowledge and mold themselves into better coders. We had a running joke, in fact – whenever I asked them if a module was ready they always said, “Yes sir, it is done.” But upon checking in, the code would immediately break. But once they could see the UI shape up, see their code come to life, they were motivated to learn more.” He sums it up by saying that the internship was their journey, a transformation from amateur coders to professional software developers.

In the words of the interns, “We gained a great deal of office experience working with the project team and got an insight into project development. It was an amazing experience and we thank everyone who helped us during our internship.”

summer-internship-at-agiliztech

At the end of the internship period, AgilizTech provided the internship experience certificates and as a small token of appreciation for their contribution, HDFC Gift Cards, while wishing them fruitful careers.

These were the second batch of interns to have worked at AgilizTech and we would love to collaborate with more students for our projects, as this program helps us build a connect with the student community and enables them gain foothold in the industry.

Solved – Unable to retrieve audio/video file recorded and saved in Ionic 2 App

AgilizTech works on exciting web and mobile app projects for customers around the globe. We develop both native and hybrid apps for our customers.

Recently, while building a hybrid app on the Ionic 2 Framework, our developers encountered an issue in coding an audio/video file record and retrieval. The initial functionality seemed simple, but that’s where Cordova threw spanner in the works. We had researched extensively online and weren’t able to find any solution. So, when our developers toiled for a few hours, and successfully solved it, we decided to share the solution and let others benefit from it.

For this project, our team had used the Cordova plugin – cordova-plugin-media-capture. This plugin provides access to the device’s audio, image, and video capture capabilities.

It is super easy to use. So, to record a video, we used the code:


navigator.device.capture.captureVideo(
	(result) => {
		console.log(result);
		console.log(“Video captured Successfully”);
		// Your code goes here.
	} ,
	(error) => {
		console.log(error);
		console.log(“Video captured failed”);
	}
);

Everything looked pretty simple. The video was getting recorded using the device’s recording application. On Android, the code worked like a charm. However, the team ran into issues in the iOS device, as the saved file was not getting played.

While debugging the issue, we observed the Media Capture object in captureSuccess.
In Android, the file was getting stored in a persistent location, so the code worked fine when we tried to retrieve the saved file.

But in iOS device, the file got stored in a temporary location!
Result, we were unable to play the saved file in the application.

Solution?

Once we figured out the issue, the solution was simple. We just had to copy the file from this temporary location to a persistent location.

We chose a persistent location that covered both Android and iOS. The File plugin provided such an alias: cordova.file.dataDirectory

navigator.device.capture.captureVideo(
	(result) => {
	  console.log(“Video captured Successfully”);
	  var fileName = result[0].name;
	  var dir = result[0].localURL.split(“/”);
	  dir.pop();
	  var fromDirectory = dir.join(“/”);
	  var toDirectory = cordova.file.dataDirectory;
	  File.copyFile (fromDirectory , fileName , toDirectory , fileName).then( res =>{
			console.log(“File successfully copied”);
			// Your code goes here.
		});
     	  } ,
	(error) => {
		console.log(error);
		console.log(“Video captured failed”);
	}
);

Everything fell into place after that.

Summarising, to make the recording and retrieval possible, just save the file in a persistent location that’s common to both Android and iOS.

Have you faced a similar issue while building an app in Ionic 2? Do let us know in the comments!

AgilizTech is working on some pretty cool Hybrid Apps powered by Ionic 2. Would you like to know more?

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