When developing a bot, one needs to to decide to which platform/channels to integrate with. Here we will review a few of the popular chatbot platforms and the capabilities they provide.
The business bot platform: Slack
Slack is a real-time messaging app for teams at work, and can be used across multiple devices and platforms. The messaging app is currently used by tens of thousands of businesses from small startups to large enterprises. The app has 9 million weekly active users, and has 50,000 paid teams, and 2 million paid users, thereby making the audience for your bot qualified and highly engaged.
The Slack API offers several actions that bots can do on the platform. These include:
The consumer Bot platform: Facebook Messenger
Facebook chatbots have changed the way consumers and brands interact on the world’s largest social platform. Today, over 100,000 bots are being used on Facebook messenger to collect information, make product recommendations, take orders and even for social good. The users interact with Facebook bots through the messenger interface.
The Messenger API provides the following rich functionality:
The Voice Bot Platform: Alexa
Amazon’s Alexa-controlled Echo Speaker, now in its second generation and with several derivative versions available, continues to expand its music, smart-home, and digital-assistant abilities. It’s first a wireless speaker, but capable of much more. Using nothing but the sound of your voice, you can play music, search the Web, create to-do and shopping lists, shop online, get instant weather reports, and control popular smart-home products—all while your Smartphone stays in your pocket.
The Alexa skills kit provides the following functionality:
Note that this is not a platform that lets you add your own bot. You will need to plug in your service as a skill.
Keep in mind that Alexa is not a chatbot development platform, you will need to plug in your services as as skill that the super bot exposes. Also note that Alexa is available in other devices, such as smart watches and third party IOT devices.
The Teen’s Bot platform: Kik
Kik, the mobile chat application popular with teenagers, has more than 300 million users. On Kik’s chatbot platform, companies can build, grow and monetize for highly engaged teen audience. About 33 percent of U.S. teens use Kik.
The Kik API provides the following rich functionality:
The legacy bot Platforms
There are also a few more traditional chatbot platforms that we should consider. While you may not immediately think of these as bot platforms, they are actually very common and quite effective platforms for bots.
Email is a very common and standard means of communication. Many businesses use email as their sole communication platform. Emails are also common in business-to-consumer communication: from Zendesk support to MailChimp marketing engagement, businesses commonly use emails to interact with their partners and clients.
Both common email protocols, IMAP and POP3, provide a limited set of functionality:
The most common communication apps in mobile, SMS (Short Message Service, sometimes just referred to as text) application use the cellular infrastructure rather than the internet, making them accessible and extremely popular in emerging countries and on low-end phones around the world. SMS services are tied to your phone number, making it somewhat easier to register with bots that use SMS as a medium.
The SMS API provides the following functionalities: