Meet the Chatbot, the Robot’s Little Brother

People are talking a lot about Chatbots, and will soon be doing a chatting with one and the primary industry adopting this will be customer service. Chatbots will help people converse with computers in their native language via a computer interface. With the rise of messaging apps, the explosion of the app ecosystem, advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and cognitive technologies, a fascination with conversational user interfaces and a wider reach of automation are driving the Chatbot trend. With the proper assessment of business rationale and implementation, there will be quick near-term results and longtime justification.

Chatbots will not masquerade as a human but will provide first and quick support – saving time and energy – for both the customer and service providers. These will heighten business outcomes and deliver superior experiences, and will continuously learn as they “chat” with humans, providing meaningful responses to any new queries and unique requirements over time.

 

An Understanding of Terminology Around Chatbot’s

Intents

Every person starts a chat with an intention. This could be anything like Check Order Status, Cancel Order, Return Item, Refund Status, etc. Based on an entry made by the user in the Chatbot, the engine will map that to a specific and discrete use case or unit of work. Above all are “use cases” that a Chatbot should support and from the free text entry that the customer types in, a chatbot will work out exactly which unit of work should be triggered in the background. Oracle Chatbots will break text entered by users into words and ranked against intents to respond with most accurate details.

 

Utterances

Having defined an intent (a unit of work) it will always be derived based on common phrases that will be entered by the customer.  You can think of this as a kind of sample data form which the AI/ML element of the Chatbot “learns” from. So, for each intent, you would define a pool of utterances which are used to help the intents engine work out which user input maps to which intent. The nature of the language with subtle differences means we can’t do a simple string match.  Instead what happens is all these utterances are used to “teach” the intent engine.  That way, subtle differences in the input such as “What is my refund?” vs “What’s my refund?” or “Tell me my refund amount.” will be mapped to the same intent.

 

Entity

In some cases, you might want to think of an intent as having a variable element – like a parameter.  For example, “cancel order” will result in more than one action like cancellation, return, refund. Using entities, we can define that certain elements of the input should be identified as these variable values. Oracle Chatbot gives more flexibility and power with these entities as it will help us build multiple modules.

 

Machine Learning/NLP

For a Chatbot to be more successful and useful to both business and the customer it must be data-driven rather than task oriented. The data could be coming from both a customer as well as the backend ERP systems. Oracle Chatbots are language independent and accept free format text and is backed by the powerful AI engine developed by Oracle.

 

Dialog Flow

Like any conversation a user will start their conversation with the Chatbot saying hi/hello or even with a question “What’s the status of my order?” The Bot will take the words from this utterance and try to match and rank with the intents defined. Based on the intent match the Bot will return some responses and as the customer continues the dialog flow commences. The dialog flow can take various directions based on user’s intent and their utterance.

 

Oracle Chatbot Implementation Architecture

The following diagram provides a high-level idea of various layers of  Oracle’s Chatbot solution. The UI/user interface will be one or many chat channels, these can be any existing popular channels or bespoke channels or web applications. A user can initiate their dialog with a Chatbot from various channels wherever we configured it. Channels are configured through webhooks. In the backend, we have the message platform and underneath that, we have the Oracle homegrown AI bot engine. To back them, you have Oracle MCS backend where all your custom components can be built. You can reuse all existing MCS backend services which you have already built or build new ones.

As you can see, an integration layer is optional but it is strongly recommended so that you can separate your integration’s or microservices. Again, you can use all the services which have already been built and keep building the ones you don’t have. Using this integration layer, you can integrate the Oracle Chatbot to any SaaS, PaaS, On-Premise applications to execute your business services. This can start from basic order inquiry to processing cancellation/refund. You can keep all the complex business rules, validations, executions in your integration’s/microservices and let the Chatbot do the interaction with the end customer. We can make a seamless and pleasant experience for the customer.

In the current market, we have two types of Bot solutions Task-Oriented and Data-Driven & Predictive. This shows a high-level differentiation between the two. Oracle Chatbot falls under later one.

With a Chatbot, businesses can quickly develop and host simple to complex bots in very less time. Oracle chatbots are language independent and it allows you to host your bot in various languages keeping the core dialog flow and integration’s the same. Having a Bot will help companies to provide faster and better service to their customers. Customers will have the option of chatting with a bot and getting the info or service immediately rather than calling customer service desk and then kept on hold for minutes before they get to an executive.

The Growing Popularity of the Hybrid Cloud

Hybrid Cloud hero image

Cloud is one of the trends that reflects IT evolution. “The cloud” delivers anything as a service at low-cost and is revolutionizing technology and changing the game for IT departments by driving innovation, experimentation, and new business models. Cloud computing offers three deployment models: private, public and hybrid.

Figure 1

 

The public cloud is where the service provider makes resources such as storage and applications available to the public via the Internet at much lower cost than that of having actual physical servers. However, the public cloud does not address security concerns and companies are not always be comfortable in transferring sensitive private data onto a public cloud. This issue led to a private cloud solution that allowed businesses to store confidential information to their own private servers.

 

Figure 2

 

So what is the Hybrid Cloud?

Depending on who you ask, there are several definitions of hybrid cloud.

Ed Anderson, Research Vice President at Gartner, says hybrid is “an on-premises private cloud combined with an off-premises public cloud” is a “limited definition” and “is only a subset of a broader, cross-vendor hybrid cloud definition that is more aligned with the way most organizations are constructing hybrid clouds.” Where Dave Bartoletti, the Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, says the definition of hybrid cloud is “very direct” and involves a situation where a public cloud service is connected to any other type of system or service.

In laymens terms, the hybrid cloud is a cloud computing model which uses a mix of on-premise, private cloud, and third-party public cloud services to perform distinct functions within an organization.

What is the Hybrid Clouds impact on Business?

The hybrid cloud makes it easier for companies to balance between the ground and cloud. It combines them all – public cloud, private cloud, and dedicated servers – and is the best approach to benefit from cloud’s scalability. According to RightScale 2016 State of Cloud Report, the demand for hybrid cloud has increased to 71% among companies.

A few of the benefits the hybrid cloud offers are:

  • By implementing a hybrid approach businesses have more agility, scalability and easy access to resources
  • Allows businesses to meet compliance requirements, with proper network security, a hybrid solution combining cloud and dedicated hardware can satisfy auditor requirements
  • Solves cloud capacity problem and eliminates the need to buy servers for backup
  • Provides efficient planning of private and public cloud infrastructure, thereby reducing cost
  • Improves time to market, quickly launch new products or services and drive revenue growth

Other major benefits of the hybrid cloud include:

  • Ability to split the workload into two separate environments
  • Flexibility to include right cloud technologies
  • Increased security of shared data

Where the private cloud provides security, but increases costs and the public cloud offers great technology at a reasonable price,  it has security constraints.  A hybrid cloud solution provides a solution that can meet both needs. It will enhance your business and solve complex business problems.

It is worth mentioning that while the hybrid cloud has many advantages, building it can come with its own challenges. Before adopting the hybrid cloud approach, it’s necessary to have a complete understanding of hybrid cloud as well as having an IT team with the appropriate skill set.

Understanding the drift in technology and demand for hybrid cloud is something we specialize in. For strategic insights or implementation expertise on how to build and/or evolve your hybrid cloud contact us at info@sofbang.com or 312.279.0430.

 

Fig 2: Source rightscale.com

Infrastructure Monitoring Woes? Oracle Management Cloud to the Rescue

Header Image Oracle Management Cloud

Many organizations struggle staying ahead of their infrastructure and application issues for several reasons:

  • Lack of visibility to predict resource utilization – because workloads change so frequently in the cloud, the need of capacity forecasting when more server resources are needed is critical.
  • Lean methodologies and offshore accounts bring down on premise operations teams to lower costs thereby affecting human resources managing the infrastructure
  • A lot of time goes into reacting to incidents and problems, which leaves less time to focus on strategy
  • Performance monitoring is now across a wide variety of end-user tools such as mobile devices etc.

There is an increasing web of difficulty and availability of applications, managing performance and end user satisfaction. Organizations are looking for the right balance between reducing the IT budget and maintaining robust and efficient systems to support performance needs.

Can your organization relate to any of these issues?

  • Overwhelmed by the volume of the infrastructural components to monitor?
  • Is there a one-stop tool to oversee availability, performance and make appropriate decisions that benefit the company and the end user?
  • Does log management take up time and resources more than performance tuning?

The answer to all of the above is the Oracle Management Cloud.

Oracle Management Cloud provides end-to-end visibility of your business-critical applications running on private, public, and hybrid cloud environments. It caters to multiple users such as DevOps engineers, Administrators, Business Analysts, etc, and helps eliminate overlapping problem areas thereby saving resources time to identify and troubleshoot problems quickly.

Oracle Management Cloud has been specifically designed for

  • Application performance monitoring
    • Find patterns leading to issues and fix them.
    • Oversee application peak performance, generate trends and fine tune problem areas which results in a smooth end user experience.
  • Log Analytics
    • Monitor, archive, analyze logs from on premise or cloud systems.
    • Search volumes of data to trouble shoot problems.
  • IT Analytics
    • Gain in depth insight into the performance and capacity of the applications.
    • Enable business analysts and LOB users understand criticality of operations.
  • Infrastructure Monitoring
    • Monitor health status of various components in both on premise and cloud platforms.

 

 

Oracle Management Cloud runs on a Unified Big Data platform which offers real-time monitoring, alerting and analytics. Often, the importance of such tools is known to benefit Operations, so let’s take a different approach. The following are some examples of how application developers and LOB users can leverage Oracle Management Cloud in day-to-day activities and decision making.

Developer Friendly

Application developers have many tools today to build web services, enterprise applications and end users have very high expectations about the availability of these apps.

How Oracle Management Cloud perfectly fits in? Oracle Application Performance Monitoring Cloud Service gives all the information a developer needs to find and fix an issue. Developers can monitor browser performance, Ajax performance, time taken for server-side requests, use real-time log tracking etc., in development or test environments and troubleshoot issues, thereby eliminating the scenarios of discovering these in the production environment, which leads a much better end user experience.

Quick Visibility for Business

LOB users are constantly under pressure to run IT like a business and ensure performance of both applications and infrastructure. They need effective ways to monitor ever-scaling environments and make good decisions to optimize existing capacity of the infrastructure. Oracle IT Analytics Cloud service provides a complete, granular insight into the infrastructure usage, performance and the need to scale up or down depending on the usage. Users can build dashboards, publish the results periodically, and analyze the data based on various criteria depending on the business and make decisions accordingly.

Fully Secure

Oracle Management Cloud is secure, fully managed by Oracle, deploys the data on enterprise infrastructure, and runs on tablet and desktop devices.

These are just some of the key users and scenarios Oracle Management Cloud is designed for.

Check back for my future blog posts on how to implement OMC across on premise and cloud platforms.

State & Local: Licensing and Permitting – A Streamlined Solution in Oracle PaaS

Licensing and permitting is a vital line of business to all state and local public sector entities throughout the world. Whether it is a business license, driver’s license, vehicle residential permit or any other license or permit, public sector departments have mastered the process of issuing, managing and tracking licenses specific to their domain. While the current processes may be down to a science, state and local organizations continue to deal with critical challenges of having to constantly do more with less.

Organizations are looking to modernize, consolidate or retire antiquated systems that are manual, paper intensive and require redundant, repetitive data entry. Our latest whitepaper dives deeper into the complexities associated with these challenges and provides a fresh perspective, along with best practices to streamline the licensing and permitting functions within an enterprise.

Read the whitepaper(PDF): State & Local: Licensing and Permitting