We recently were part of the team that authored the IBM Redbooks Building Cognitive Applications with IBM Watson Services: Volume 2 Conversation. This book describes how the Watson Conversation service can be used to create chatbots and user agents that understand natural language input and communicate with your users simulating a real human conversation. It provides examples of applications that integrate the Watson Conversation service with other IBM Bluemix® services, such as the IBM IoT Platform, Text to Speech, Speech to Text, and Weather Company® Data, to implement practical use cases. You can develop and deploy the sample applications by following along in a step-by-step approach and using provided code snippets. Alternatively, you can download an existing Git project to more quickly deploy the application.
Why should you read this book?
Are you looking for a way to provide automated services to your customers? Would you like to build a customer service application that can understand the meaning of the questions your customers are asking in their human natural language and find the correct answers? And more than that, the application can also detect the emotion of the user, respond to spoken commands and answer in the user’s native language? Are you interested in learning how to build chatbots and virtual agents using IBM Watson cognitive services and integrate them to build a complete solution? If you answered “yes” to at least one of these questions this book is for you.
With the IBM Watson Conversation service, you can create an application and user agents that understand natural language input and communicate with your users simulating a real human conversation.
Conversation service uses machine learning to respond to customers in a way that simulates a conversation between humans and it can be trained for your specific domain or business. By reading this book you will learn about these topics:
- How to use the Conversation service in IBM Bluemix
- Conversation service main components
- Creating and configuring Conversation Workspace
- Creating a sample Node.js app that demonstrates the use of Watson Conversation service by building a calculator chatbot
- Creating a sample chatbot using Node-RED that integrates with SLACK
- Creating a cognitive chatbot to manage IoT devices
- Developing a Node.js application that integrates the Conversation service with external APIs such as Weather Company Data
- How to improve your chatbot’s understanding of a user's dialog
- Integrating Speech to Text and Text to Speech with the Conversation service
The code provided with this book in a GitHub repository helps you to jump start your app development through simple examples.
Why did we author this IBM Redbooks publication?
As soon as we heard that the IBM Redbooks organization was looking for subject matter experts (SMEs) to author a new series of books on cognitive computing we immediately knew we had to be part of the team. IT is now entering the cognitive era following the programming era in which we started our career as software developers. We need to evolve our skills to keep up with the rapid changes as we know that the future of computing is cognitive. This is the reason why we joined a large team of experts around the world to participate in this project. It was hard work but we learned from each other and had a lot of fun in the process.
The final deliverable is a series of seven volumes, Building Cognitive Applications with IBM Watson Services. The series includes an overview of specific IBM Watson® services with their associated architectures and simple code examples. Each volume describes how you can use and implement these services in your applications through practical use cases. The series includes the following volumes:
- Volume 1 Getting Started, SG24-8387
- Volume 2 Conversation, SG24-8394
- Volume 3 Visual Recognition, SG24-8393
- Volume 4 Natural Language Classifier, SG24-8391
- Volume 5 Language Translator, SG24-8392
- Volume 6 Speech to Text and Text to Speech, SG24-8388
- Volume 7 Natural Language Understanding, SG24-8398
As we are both software developers in IBM, in the last couple of years we were involved in several client engagement requiring cognitive chatbots, that is why without hesitation we chose to author Volume 2 of this Redbooks series.
As an example, in one of our engagements the client had a problem with a high employee turnover rate in their call center which resulted in the majority of their support personnel being junior agents with little experience and only a small number of senior team members. Initially the client requested to use the IBM Watson Conversation service to only answer very trivial questions from their customers. As time went by and Watson was trained in our client's business, it was able to handle the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) at various levels of complexity, while the agents have more time to be trained on how to handle the more complex and less frequent questions. And some of the junior agents can now spend part of their time focusing on sales activities which provides higher value to the company.
Hala Aziz is an Experienced Certified IT Specialist in the Cairo Technology Development Center (CTDC) in IBM Egypt. She has more than 10 years of experience in IBM Application and Integration Middleware software and IBM Cloud such as IBM WebSphere Application Server, IBM WebSphere Portal, IBM MobileFirst™, IBM Endpoint Manager, IBM Bluemix, and IBM Watson services. She worked as a consultant on eGovernment, telecom, and banking solutions for clients in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Oman, and Switzerland. Hala has several technical professional certifications, such as Certified Application Developer for IBM Web Content Manager, IBM MobileFirst and Cloud Platform Application Developer v1, and she has published several articles and IBM Redbooks publications. Hala has delivered IBM internal education and client enablement training workshops around the world. You can access Hala's Linked in profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/hala-aziz-3a148898
Ahmed Azraq is a Certified IT Specialist in IBM Egypt. Since joining IBM in 2012, Ahmed worked as a Senior Cloud Developer, Technical Team Leader, and Architect in the IBM Middle East and Africa (MEA) Client Innovation Center, which is part of IBM Global Business Services® (GBS). His areas of expertise include cloud, IBM Business Process Manager, middleware integration, Java, and IBM Watson. Ahmed has acquired several professional certifications, including Open Group IT Specialist, IBM Bluemix, Java EE, IBM Business Process Manager, Agile development process, and IBM Design Thinking. Ahmed has delivered training on IBM Bluemix, DevOps, hybrid cloud Integration, Node.js, Watson APIs, and IBM WebSphere® Liberty Profile to IBM clients, IBM Business Partners, and university students and professors around the world. He is the recipient of several awards, including Eminence and Excellence Award in the IBM Watson worldwide competition Cognitive Build, the IBM Service Excellence Award for showing excellent client value behaviors, and Building Cognitive Applications with IBM Watson Services: Volume 2 Conversation knowledge-sharing award. Ahmed is also a published author for IBM Redbooks Essentials of Cloud Application Development on IBM Bluemix, SG24-8374. You can access Ahmed's Linked in profile at https://www.linkedin.com/in/aazraq