The Essential Skills You Need to Build a Bot

Building a bot is much more complex than it seems on the surface. Why? In a word, context. Human beings understand the context of a question or statement, but if you’ve ever struggled to get Siri, Alexa, or Google to understand you, you know how important nuance and context can be. This is also true of text chatbots and as more companies turn to bots as a service, it will be critical for developers and programmers who want to work on bots to have very specific skills.

Listening First

In the “olden days” of bots, stock answers were generated based on a limited set of input. Today, many bot interactions begin with a question like, “How can I help you today?” This is an extremely open-ended question and developers and programmers need to put themselves in both the bot’s and the human being’s shoes.

Thanks to machine learning, bots get “smarter” with time, but take the case of a customer service bot. If a customer is upset or frustrated and they hop onto an online chat, they tend to assume there is a human on the other side of the conversation. Their frustration and aggravation will intensify if the bot does not understand their initial response. Today, companies need conversation-ready bots that “listen” to the person they are interacting with and respond accordingly.  Typically, a human takes over the bot interaction in a customer service setting, but the bot must be able to gather the appropriate information and provide appropriate responses for the rep to ultimately take over and do his or her job well.

Multi-Language Capabilities

Most companies use proprietary technology to build their bot platforms. That means that if you want to work as a consultant, on a per-project basis, or if you just hope to advance to a new organization, you must possess fluency in many programming languages and technologies.

Even if you work for the same organization your entire career, multi-language capability is a must because bots interact with other systems on a regular basis.  In order for those interactions to go smoothly, developers must be able to understand languages across systems.

The Intangibles Related to Bot-Building

Not only do you need technical skills like AI and programming to succeed in bot-building, you also must possess some important soft skills and less “tangible” skills. First and foremost: communication. The whole purpose of a bot is to communicate effectively, and if you lack strong communication skills yourself, you can’t hope to make strong contributions to the project.

Another critical skill is the ability to learn quickly. Bot technology advances quickly, and innovations occur on a regular basis. If you don’t learn quickly and stay ahead of the curve, you won’t be marketable. Equally important is the ability to innovate. You’ll be asked to find solutions to complex problems quickly and often with limited resources. The ability to think creatively and develop new solutions is a critical success factor in the bot business.

If you are an IT professional seeking new opportunities in building bots, AI or machine learning, the recruiters at Talon want to hear from you. We can match you with a position and an employer that will help you utilize your talents and achieve your professional goals. Contact us today to learn more.


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