November 6, 2019
“Alexa, what’s in the news today?”
“Google, what’s the weather like in Florida right now?”
If you have ever asked a question like this, then you’ve interacted with your very own chatbot. The concept of the chatbot was originally introduced in 2004 by Michael Mauldin to define conversational programs, and has since become a very important tool for business. But what are the benefits of having an open source chatbot or smart assistant, how do you build a chatbot, and why choose an open source chatbot over commercial options? Let’s dive a little deeper into these questions.
There are so many ways that businesses can benefit from a chatbot. Not only are chatbots necessary if you’re trying to keep up with the latest trends, but they also allow for improved customer service. In fact, one study showed that at least 83% of shoppers request assistance when they are doing their online shopping. With the right technology, an open source chatbot can provide these customers with all of the assistance that they need – answering their questions, giving them advice, and directing them towards pages, images, or tutorials that may be helpful. And the best part? An open source smart assistant doesn’t charge by the hour – so they can offer assistance to your customers 24/7.
Not only that, but creating a chatbot can save you money. Yes, they do cost money to create and run, but they are a lot cheaper (and faster) than hiring employees to work round-the-clock for the task of offering online customer service. In addition, chatbots can help to prevent human error, and monitor consumer data for you to help you gain valuable consumer insights.
The process of building a chatbot is similar to that of building any piece of software, and follows through a variety of stages:
The planning stage
The building stage
The testing phase
The publishing phase
The connecting phase
The evaluation phase
Open Source vs. Closed Source Platforms
Once you’ve decided that you want to build a chatbot, the question then becomes, “do I use an open source or commercial platform?” So what’s the difference between the two?
Open Source Software:
Closed Source software:
Open Core / Dual License Software:
Many people would agree that building an open source chatbot is the way to go. Not only is building an open source smart assistant the more affordable option, but there are also many other benefits that come along with the decision.
Open source software, for example, is constantly evolving. This means that there are no limitations to what you can do with your chatbot. As technology progresses, your chatbot can progress too. In other words, you can improve your chatbot as you go.
With closed source software, you are limited to what is offered at the time that you purchase the license. Yes, they may offer slightly more advanced features than open source software at the time of purchase, but as time progresses you will not gain access to any new features or technology unless you purchase a new licensing agreement.
Although open core / dual license software is chargeable for premium features, it generally has a much more comprehensive free tier than closed source companies offer which makes it more affordable. It also has the advantage of a more profitable business model than pure open source software that allows it to afford to invest in more innovation and support for clients.
Another advantage of open source software is that you don’t run the risk of losing your provider. When you use a closed source company, on the other hand, there’s always a risk that the service provider will suddenly go out of business – this happens all the time. If it happens to your service provider, you’re basically “out of luck” and have to start from scratch.
Open source software, however, is constantly being improved by thousands of worldwide supporters. The chance of it disappearing from the market then is next to impossible.
So if you are throwing around the idea of creating a chatbot, go with an open source / open core chatbot. Not only is an open source / open core assistant more affordable, but it’s also more beneficial in the long term.
Disclaimer: We encourage our blog authors to give their personal opinions. The opinions expressed in this blog are therefore those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Botpress as a company.