Six Ways that Teneo Studio Accelerates Bot-Building

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Artificial intelligence is an evocative term. But the days when it conjured up images of arcane academic research or even science fiction are gone. Today artificial intelligence means business. And that requires a streamlined, robust, and cost-effective process for building intelligent, conversational digital employees.

For all the advances in artificial intelligence technology, creating a digital employee that actually delivers on its business goals can still be a long, complex task. How can such a complex process be simplified and accelerated?

This is where Artificial Solutions’ integrated development environment for smart conversational bots, Teneo Studio, comes in. Teneo Studio isn’t just a regular coding environment. It takes a unique visual approach to assembling an intelligent, conversational digital employee. Below, we’ll take a look at six ways that Teneo Studio makes creating bots easier.

1. Maintaining high-level overview

Creating a digital employee involves a lot more than code. Take natural language, for instance. The ability to converse with users in natural language is essential for any bot or virtual assistant. But natural language is full of ambiguity and variation. A well-designed development environment for bots must let the developers dive into the details of handling language in all its richness, without getting so lost in the details of language processing that they lose sight of the wood for the trees.

Since intelligent conversation involves a lot more than words, a digital employee needs to understand more than just combinations of words and phrases. The bot must also grasp the concept of a structured dialogue, so that it can guide the user from an initial request to some form of conclusion that has business impact.

Teneo Studio represents these dialogues visually as diagrams of flow charts. By switching between flow charts and the more detailed building blocks, the developers can dive in and out of the details without losing sight of the high-level business goals of the digital employee.

2. Simplifying internal communication

With all the buzz of big data and dizzyingly clever algorithms, artificial intelligence can sometimes appear as end in itself. But it is crucial to keep in mind that digital employees are developed for business reasons. And because the tasks that the digital employee performs must be anchored in the daily operations of the business, the developers must work closely with subject matter experts and business stakeholders.

But how do you translate from business needs to code, without information being lost in the process? The answer is communication between developers and business stakeholders. Thanks to its intuitive visual representation of dialogues as flow charts connecting the conversation between bot and user, Teneo Studio can give business professionals a glimpse of the internal working of the bot. Subject matter experts can look at the dialogue flows and give the developers feedback about the digital employee even before it has been deployed.

A picture is worth a thousand words, but when you are creating a virtual assistant the power of a visual flow representations to simplify the communication between developers and business professionals is invaluable.

3. Documenting the digital employee

All things pass, and few things pass more rapidly from memory than the purpose and functionality of computer code. And that is why developers rely on documentation. Documentation is essential, but few developers actually enjoy writing it.

One of the great strengths of Teneo Studio’s visual approach is that the visual representations of dialogue as flow diagrams constitute easy-to-read documentation of the bot’s functionality. In simple cases, a quick glance at a flow might be sufficient to see what its purpose is. In more complex cases, the visual flow architecture provides indispensable aid for a developer who is about to work on the bot. The flow diagrams hold both the dialogue components and test cases, which means that the flows constitute their own documentation.

4. Reusing modules

Reusability is a cornerstone of software development. Few things are more wasteful than to develop and maintain duplicated code and functionality. Yet in natural language conversations, duplication seems almost inevitable. No two dialogues between a bot and a user are exactly identical, and any dialogue that purports to be natural must accommodate within it changes in topic or revisiting previous topics.

Dialogues meander back and forth, just like musical improvisations over a theme will mix structure with flexibility. Teneo Studio’s dialogue flows are modular and allow developers to chain them together. This modularity lets developers reuse functionality without duplicating code. Thanks to this reuse, the conversation can remain directed yet flexible. In other words: a natural, human-like conversation.

5. Integrating code

Teneo Studio’s visual dialogue flow approach is highly flexible and modifiable. But there are times when developing a fully functional digital employee requires more flexibility than a point and click interface can provide. That flexibility is available in Teneo Studio by adding computer code to the flows.

Sometimes, the code is just a single line providing functionality as simple as converting an upper case character to lower case, or the other way around. Other times, much larger pieces of code are used to let the digital employee integrate with other computer systems to retrieve data. Such data can be presented to the user, or fed into a machine learning component.

Machine learning components like statistical classifiers can also be integrated using computer code, an option which greatly empowers the digital employee further in its business mission.

6. Standing on the shoulders of gigantic amounts of data

In a world where big data is grabbing the headlines, it is easy to forget that data is merely the means to an end: to extract actionable information. When that process involves analysing natural language with the aim of bot development, it can be particularly long, arduous, and complex.

However, Teneo Studio comes with built-in libraries containing language resources for over 35 languages. The creation of these libraries has been informed by vast amounts of conversational data.

With these language resource libraries, Teneo Studio frees up developers to think about how the digital employee can be designed to meet business aims, rather than coming up with all the different ways of saying “yes” (there are more ways than you’d think: Oxford Dictionaries Blog lists 22 different words). And since the libraries extend beyond words and synonyms, developers can add dialogue flows for common, generic questions and dialogues with a few button clicks.

To conclude, there are several ways that Teneo Studio allows developers to work smarter and more efficiently to create intelligent, conversational digital employees. Teneo Studio isn’t just a development environment for code. It is a purpose-built environment for conversational AI that accelerates the work of building intelligent, human-like bots. Teneo Studio lets developers work in a robust and scalable manner, and lets them focus their energy on how the bot best can meet business aims by engaging with customers in a natural way.

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Gard Jenset holds a PhD in English and quantitative corpus linguistics from the University of Bergen. He is currently working as a knowledge engineer at Artificial Solutions, where his duties include analytics, text mining, and data science for natural language. Before joining Artificial Solutions he worked as an associate professor of English, doing research in research methods and corpus linguistics and teaching English and applied linguistics.

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