Build impressive chatbots, without having to be an NLP expert. Botpress' NLU chatbot strategy supports you in creating a conversational interface.

While the managed Botpress NLU model allows developers the ability to access the latest in NLP technology without being an expert, understanding what NLP is and how it applies to chatbot technology is still critical for context. This blog will outline NLP, NLU, and how Botpress incorporates these technologies into its developer platform.

NLP, NLU, NLG...Oh my!

NLP (Natural Language Processing) is a field of study that includes NLU (natural language understanding) and NLG (Natural Language Generation.) The important thing to note here is that not all NLP technologies apply to the needs of the chatbot developer, but that the quality of NLP, NLU, and NLG included in a chatbot platform can have a huge impact on the quality of the resulting bot.

For a deeper outline of NLP & NLU, check out our in-depth guide to NLP & NLU.

The other key thing to note about the NLP sphere is the breakneck speed at which it is developing right now. The ability to process and understand natural language is growing exponentially, and it is very hard to keep up with the latest models & techniques.

Interestingly, we believe this is a result of how the chatbot industry originated - from customer interest, rather than from disruptive technology.

Why Chatbots?

Some industries originate in a technical breakthrough, and some develop from a business need. The chatbot industry was rooted in customer demand - sparked when the very first chatbots became available through Facebook Messenger & others. An entire industry was created in response to the potential in those first few applications. The user interface came first, and highlighted the promise of the technology: What if a business could *talk* to its users and customers, using what is almost certainly the customer’s preferred interface: natural language? Interest in getting chatbots to actually work came second, and so the underlying technology was developed in response to the demand.

As a result, there have been huge developments in Natural Language Processing (NLP) in the last few years. The technology driving NLP is new and developing very quickly. As that technology evolves, so does the ability of chatbot builders to create impressive, robust chatbots that can meet customer needs, often without human customer service intervention.

Of course, that assumes that the chatbot works - that is, it can understand what the user says to it, it can access the right information to respond to the user’s question, and can respond quickly and appropriately. That has been the struggle, up until now.

The Botpress Managed NLP Engine

In Botpress, we are aiming to create a chatbot platform that balances the rapid innovation in NLP technologies against the right-now need to build an effective chatbot. We believe we have created the ideal platform - neither too-simple nor too-complex - that will allow developers to build bots that actually help customers.

Botpress distinguishes itself through the quality of the NLP module, our open source stack, which is deployment agnostic and completely customizable, and the quality of our developer tools, which allow the developer to create really impressive conversational interfaces.

Botpress has created a managed NLP engine that incorporates the latest NLP developments into a single module within our platform. Using Botpress, developers can access cutting-edge NLP without needing to become a data science or machine learning expert. At the same time, the NLP module provides insight and transparency into the NLP engine, allowing developers the ability to customize it as needed for their application.

This managed NLP engine helps to “future-proof” Botpress chatbots - providing the abstraction layer needed for new advances in NLP to be incorporated, without a complete rebuild of the chatbot. Developers can build a chatbot now on Botpress, with heavy customization of business logic and integration with existing company systems, and be assured that new developments in NLP will be incorporated into the Botpress NLP module without requiring changes in their chatbot logic or workflow.

Since the NLP engine is the very start of the work a chatbot does - literally in parsing the user’s intent - its integrity is supercritical. The quality of that first step drives the quality all the way through the bot-user interaction.

To learn more about the Botpress NLU engine, please visit our NLU engine documentation, or to read more about NLU in chatbots, read our Intro to NLU.

Botpress for Developers

Botpress is essentially a developer stack for chatbots - providing the tools required to power a chat: connectivity to chat delivery platforms, natural language understanding, a question-answering engine, and workflow automation. Combined with simple and scalable deployment solutions, these developer tools make for the most effective open source chatbot platform available.

We believe that, in the future, conversational interfaces will become the primary way that humans interact with software. A conversational interface is much more intuitive to the user, and would be a significant paradigm shift. As the ability to understand and act on a user’s conversation improves, there will be a shift from the user having to learn the software to the software having to understand the user.

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