Some Recent Developments in the Field of Outsourced Chatbot Software

Increased Use of Chatbots

The utilisation of chatbots has seen a massive surge in popularity, particularly among organisations that place a premium on customer satisfaction. Their widespread application in a variety of modern fields is indicative of the improvements in accuracy, availability and cost-effectiveness that have made them more valuable than ever before to businesses. According to recent research, the global chatbot market is expected to reach a value of $1.23 billion by 2025, accounting for 85% of all interactions between businesses and their customers by 2023. With such impressive growth predicted, many companies are now looking to outsource the development of their chatbots, creating a highly competitive environment in the industry.

Applications of Chatbots

Chatbots offer an unparalleled level of availability and reliability compared to their human counterparts. Unlike human employees, who may require time off due to holidays, sickness or other circumstances, chatbots are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Furthermore, chatbots can be employed for tasks that would normally require financial compensation for a human employee, making them an invaluable asset in the current market. Chatbots are also highly accurate and reliable, making them perfect for providing digital customer service via instant messaging programmes.

It is estimated that by 2023, approximately a quarter of the world’s population will be using mobile messaging applications. This shift is understandable, given the increased demand for fast responses; currently, 21% of live chat interactions remain unanswered, and customers often have to wait more than three minutes for an agent to answer their phone calls. This lack of immediacy is unappealing to customers who crave quick satisfaction, making chatbots an attractive alternative. Chatbots are able to provide scalable customer care through multiple mediums, but particularly messaging applications, enabling customers to receive swift, reliable responses.

Contracting Out Software Design and Development

The software outsourcing industry for the development of chatbots is experiencing rapid growth, as an increasing number of companies are either already using or are getting ready to implement chatbots. There are a number of primary factors that have contributed to the success of outsourcing:

  • Reduces development time.
  • Gives you access to cutting-edge resources and a reliable group of specialists
  • Utilises none of the business’s excess resources
  • There is less danger to the business as a whole.

When looking for a software outsourcing firm to provide the necessary chatbot services, it is important to keep a few important considerations in mind. Third-party organisations generally have the sophisticated coding and organised maintenance required for these services, however, selecting the most suitable provider can be challenging. Therefore, any company wishing to make use of chatbot technology should carefully evaluate the following criteria:

  1. Can you list the necessary features for the robot?
  2. How much money do we have to work with?
  3. In terms of technology, what skills does the existing team have?

By answering these three questions, every company may reduce its outsourcing options to to those that provide the services it needs.

Chatbot Technical Aspects: Outsourcing

It is not necessary to take a one-size-fits-all approach to outsourcing development services for chatbots. Depending on the needs of the company and the resources available, different steps of the chatbot development process can be outsourced. Below is a list of some of the main technological options for building chatbots.

Framework for the Analysis of Natural Language

What?

The Natural Language Toolkit (NLTK) is a suite of tools for processing natural language using both symbolic and statistical methods of Natural Language Processing (NLP). It is designed for use with the Python programming language, using English as its primary language. The ideas that form the basis of the language processing tasks the NLTK supports are detailed in a book that comes with the toolkit, accompanied by graphical examples and sample data.

Who?

IBM’s Watson Conversation Service, Rasa NLU, Microsoft’s LUIS, Pandorabots and ChatterBot are amongst a number of providers of Python-based chatbot services available.

Why?

Python is a programming language that has become increasingly popular due to its straightforward syntax and easy-to-learn linguistic patterns. As a result, Python has been employed for a diverse range of applications since its initial release, particularly in the realm of scientific computing. This has led to the development of a number of open-source libraries, which have been improved over time. Thus, Python has become an invaluable tool for developers, providing a range of useful functions.

The Natural Language Toolkit (NLTK) was the first framework to be developed for the integration of Natural Language Processing (NLP). Its release in 2001, five years ahead of its nearest rival, solidified NLTK’s status as the go-to reference for developers who wanted to make the most of NLP in their chatbot applications.

The Benefits of Contracting Out Python Programming

The development of Python chatbots can be outsourced, providing companies with significant cost savings. This process is typically divided into three stages: deployment, integration, and management. Assuming a standard 40-hour working week, the entire process should take approximately 14 weeks to complete. Depending on the type of bot being used, the hourly cost of chatbot development may range from US$25 to US$100.

It may seem that the cost for a 3.5 month project is excessive, however it is far lower than the expense of recruiting a full-time AI engineer. Furthermore, sourcing experienced and qualified AI engineers is a challenging endeavour, making the situation even more difficult.

JavaScript

What?

JavaScript (JS) is a multi-paradigm, dynamic and loosely typed programming language which is interpreted and can be used in the development of chatbots. It is based on a prototype model and offers a range of features which make it a great choice for web-based and interactive development.

Who?

There is a wide range of service providers offering JavaScript-based (or partially JavaScript-based) solutions, making it the second most popular language for bot building, behind Python. Examples of such providers include Stanford Natural Language Processing, Apache Open NLP and Microsoft’s LUIS. These solutions can provide assistance with the development of chatbots, either by providing the necessary tools or by managing incoming API requests.

Why?

Many individuals recognise that JavaScript (JS) is more than suitable for fundamental chatbot development due to its fast processing speed and ease of analysis. Furthermore, it has numerous libraries, with some containing machine learning packages such as Weka. Whilst Python can be more difficult to work with, as searching for solutions can feel like finding a needle in a haystack, JS is supported by an extensive range of documentation and resources.

Given that JavaScript has been in existence for some time, there is an abundance of documentation and helpful examples available to consult. JavaScript is advantageous in that it eliminates any ambiguity in programming languages, which is necessary for creating reliable chatbots. Conversely, when compared to Python, Weka falls short in terms of its support and flexibility.

Offshoring JavaScript

The complexity of developing a reliable and efficient chatbot using JavaScript is another consideration when deciding whether to outsource the process. Finding developers with the necessary expertise can be difficult, and non-technical staff may struggle to acquire the necessary skills to execute the task. In such scenarios, outsourcing is often the only practical solution.

Chatbots and the Future of Artificial Intelligence

Recent developments in Natural Language Processing (NLP) have enabled robots to understand and process spoken and written human language (AI). It is important to consider the contrast between the inexactness of human language and the need for computers to be given precise instructions. The ability to deduce meaning from context and comprehend regional and linguistic nuances is a vital skill for human beings.

Although Natural Language Processing (NLP) is still far from perfect, Machine Learning (ML) algorithms are ensuring that we are getting closer and closer to a point where it will be difficult to differentiate between human and machine conversations. These algorithms are constantly monitoring all interactions and gathering valuable data to improve their performance in subsequent conversations. This ability to learn from past experiences and contextual information is driving the advancement of chatbot development. Whilst a chatbot can be created without the implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the most successful ones are those that integrate it.

The Benefits of Chatbot Technology

Using conversational AI has numerous benefits:

  • Convergence between systems
  • Increased user participation
  • Improved usability and guidance for making choices
  • Enhanced focus among users

When AI Is Outsourced

It is impossible to fully comprehend the size of the business market for Artificial Intelligence (AI) services, software and hardware. It is estimated that this market will reach a value of $57.6 billion by 2023. However, for larger organisations with complex pre-existing systems, it may be a challenge to incorporate AI into their operations. There are many advantages to outsourcing AI services that businesses considering this transition should take into account.

  1. The Ability to Gain Access to Top-Level Talent

    Businesses can access a wide range of highly qualified professionals from across the globe through outsourcing. There is considerable demand for AI data scientists, and their salaries can reach very high levels. Outsourcing services provide businesses with the opportunity to access specialised knowledge, without having to invest in recruiting in-house experts. This support allows companies to make informed technological decisions and utilise the expertise of their outsourced partners to rapidly implement validated models, rather than developing them from scratch.
  2. Reduce Danger

    It is possible to make costly mistakes when planning an Artificial Intelligence (AI) project without the necessary expertise. The most suitable approach for each company is determined by the expertise of the suppliers. If an AI solution is outsourced and it does not prove successful, the financial and reputational risks are much lower than if it were developed internally. Furthermore, an organisation has the option to terminate any contract with an external data business if the project is not yielding expected results.
  3. Saving Money

    It would be highly impractical, if not completely unfeasible, to attempt to replicate the sheer quantity of data and wealth of prior knowledge in this industry. In some cases, outsourcing is the only feasible solution for accessing reasonably priced AI experts.

Non-Technical Chatbot Tasks Outsourced

In addition to the coding, businesses may choose to outsource other parts of the process of creating a chatbot. By using professional writers, businesses can ensure that their conversational messaging and brand language is cohesive and engaging. Professional writers can be employed to create and refine the bot’s speech patterns, vocabulary, and response to a request so that it accurately reflects the brand’s mission. Outsourcing the chatbot copy is the most effective way to ensure that a distinctive tone is maintained while still including all of the necessary bot features.

Future Directions in Customer Service

A recent survey has revealed that 89% of consumers would prefer to utilise a chatbot to obtain information, rather than browse a website. Chatbots are particularly adept at providing support to customers, and this can take many different forms.

Phone Answering Services

Chatbots offer the advantage of being able to cope with an influx of calls without the need to expand the workforce. This is especially useful for organisations that experience unpredictable peaks in call volumes. Furthermore, as chatbots can handle an unlimited number of calls simultaneously, customers will never be kept waiting.

Personalization

The use of standard e-commerce platforms allows shoppers to easily browse through a wide selection of products, but typically lacks guidance as to which items may be suitable for their needs. To address this, companies may look to integrate chatbots into their websites which can provide customers with advice and help them make informed decisions. This in turn can lead to an increase in sales as well as customer satisfaction.

Perfection in Detail and Promptness

It is no longer necessary to worry about the accuracy of the information, the amount of time it would take for a human customer service agent to obtain the relevant data, or the lack of capability to find the necessary information, as chatbots have all the information they need readily available. As a result, customers can now get their needs met more quickly and accurately than ever before, thanks to the introduction of chatbots.

Strong Prospects for Success

It is undeniable that chatbots are having a significant impact on how businesses interact with their customers (and, to some extent, internally). There is a valid concern that the increased use of chatbots may lead to job losses in areas such as sales, customer service and support, as has been seen in the past with the introduction of new technologies. Research suggests that by 2023, AI could be responsible for the displacement of up to a quarter of all jobs.

Despite the increasing automation of routine and mundane tasks, humanity is not doomed. In fact, there is a great opportunity for individuals who have honed their soft skills, such as leadership, collaboration, and adaptability, to take advantage of more innovative and fulfilling jobs in the future. Those who are willing to embrace change and remain flexible will be well-positioned to reap the benefits of the evolving job market.

As the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots continues to grow, businesses must keep up with the pace in order to remain competitive. Those that do not invest in technology and adapt their customer service approach to include these digital tools will find themselves falling behind. Consumers appreciate interfaces that are easy to use, and in today’s world, this includes well-designed chatbots. Businesses that cannot match the efficiency, accuracy and personalised attention offered by their competitors risk failing.

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