You’re Doing it Wrong

Why Your Bot Project is Destined for Failure

Since last year there has been an uptick in the number of companies, organizations and individuals developing Bots. With new eyes, everyone sees the potential these programs have. With new frameworks, platforms, channels, AI and a host of other features being invented and released, the possibilities are becoming endless. Everyone is hoping to see real engagement and in some cases revenue being generated by using Bots.

Sadly, though I must say that based on my observations and conversations there will be a lot of disappointed people in the coming months and years. Simply because most are doing it wrong. They are not seeing the forest opportunity because they are focused on the tree of technology. Bots are a applications; they are mere pieces of programming which until quite recently was out of the reach of most. But with advancements the technology is finally to a place of bringing in what I call First Generation Bots.

Daily, I hear stories of entrepreneurs asking “what skills do I need to look for when hiring a developer of a Bot I plan to build?” This question is kind of off base in my opinion. Because it is not the developer who should be the first person you look for when wanting to build a Bot. In fact, I would argue they should be the last.

Some of the best Bots out today started with a story and the story started with a purpose, an objective. Think about it. A Bot is a conversational entity, it has conversations. And conversations matter. Everyday each of us engage in hundreds of conversations, be it in person or virtually. We are seeking not just information. We are seeking a connection, common ground, we want to know that the person on the other end of the conversation understands us. If you don’t get the information you are looking for then the conversation fails. And yes, if the connection is not made the still conversation fails.

And the best way for us as humans to gain connections is through stories. When you last spoke to a business were you only looking for data? Some might say yes. But I disagree. If you had the same conversation and the person was short or curt or rude to you, even though you may have gotten the answer, would that have been a successful conversation? No, it would not, you most likely took the information you gained and conducted your business elsewhere.

So, why would the same not be true for Bots interacting with people? If you are designing a Bot, you (should/must) have a specific purpose for the Bot. It could be to form connections with new customers, recruit people to come work for you, sell your product or services or become the preferred place that people go to for information. Each of these purposes have specific steps which must be accomplished for the desired outcome to be achieved. And this is where storylines come into play.

Remember Bots are programs, which are only a series of instructions or steps which the Bot must perform. But if you do not have the steps in place then how can you build a Bot to achieve your outcome? The companies who can tell compelling and engaging stories will be the ones who will see success with Bots. Instead of looking for a developer first, do what some of the successful users of Bots are doing like Microsoft, Marvel and Universal Studios to name a few. They are not looking at the technology they are looking for story tellers they are snapping up literary geniuses. People who understand the art of conversations. The same people who can write a story which on the big screen makes people laugh, cry, empathize and sympathize with fictional characters in make believe surroundings. And they are turning their creative juices towards their outcomes and purposes. They have story lines and storyboards which are captivating.

Once the story is in place then they look for the developers. And when they go looking for the developers they know exactly what skills they need. They know that a full stack developer is nice but what they need is a developer who can deliver the experience which they have already laid out. Therefore, their Bots succeed. This is why video games with Bots as a part of pre-launch are able to launch with extraordinary revenues. It is also why Bots are making loyal followers for certain characters.

If you are building a Bot and you do not have a clearly defined outcome with associated stories. Stop your efforts and get those in place now before it is too late.

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