A chatbot is one of the oldest envisioned use cases for Artificial Intelligence. Alan Turing suggested that instead of debating whether a machine could think, we should measure how it imitates human language. Microsoft’s Xiaoice already passes the Turing test for 10 minutes.

What about your company? Don’t you believe that some of the queries that your company is responding to on social media, webchat or SMS could be easily and quickly responded by chat bots improving customer satisfaction? If yes, do you already have a customer service chat bot or are you looking to build a new one?  If you need to find a chat bot vendor to work with and have just 1 minute to solve this, just let us know and we will recommend you the most suitable vendors

If you have more time, strap in, because there’s a few too many bot companies out there.

Understand the options in the market

First of all, you may be thinking what the fuss is about chat bots and why you need to spend time choosing a good chatbot partner. Natural languages seem relatively simple to us humans however they are one of the most difficult areas to master for machines. If you are wondering why, take a look at why chatbots fail. Keeping your expectations low is a good first step.

Though there are many bot companies out there, we can split them in 3 groups:

  • Self-service solutions with GUI: Build your bot with using a simple Graphical User Interface (GUI) by dragging and dropping components. This is not the best approach to build a sophisticated bot but you can build a relatively simple bot very quickly.
  • Self-service solutions with an API, SDK or library : These solution providers built an API, SDK or a library to provide a framework for your bot to use Machine Learning (ML) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities. For example, all bots need to understand the intent in user queries. Building blocks for understanding intent such as parsing the user query can be provided by the API.  Using the available tools, even novice developers can build bots in a couple hours. However a best-in-class bot would take significantly longer to build depending on what you want the bot to achieve.
  • End-to-end solutions: This is the fastest way to building your company’s bot. Specify what your bot needs to do and get a vendor to build it end-to-end. Depending on your specifications and the vendor, price will vary greatly. In most cases after your bot is built, clients would have access to  a panel through which they can further customize functionality of the bot.

Decide whether to buy or build and cut your search time by half

The critical decision is: What’s the right type of company for you? 3 things will be important:

  • What are the required capabilities of your bot?
  • Do you have a sizable budget?
  • Are you technical?

Once you decide those, the solution is clear in some cases:

  • Go for a self service with GUI if all of these are true:
    • You have little to no chatbot budget
    • You have limited expectations from your bot
    • You don’t have/can’t access much technical skills
  • Go for a self service with an API, SDK or library if all of these are true:
    • You have little to no chatbot budget
    • You have limited expectations from your bot (however, with a great technical team you could also build a world class bot)
    • You have or can access some tech skills
  • Definitely go for end-to-end service if you said no to all of the above
  • For all other cases, I would keep on exploring both options. For example if you have tech skills, it might be worth building your own chat bot with some support from self-service solutions even if you can allocate a sizable budget for it.

In both cases, having a look at the overall industry landscape would be helpful to decide who to work with.

Understand self-service chatbot provider landscape

So you believe you or your team can tackle chatbot programming. You are probably right, chatbot development tools in 2017 are so advanced that you can really build an OK chatbot in a couple hours. Let’s look at your options:

Tech giants

Google, Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, Facebook all want to help you build the next greatest bot. Having won Jeopardy in 2010, IBM Watson is one of the pioneers in the field. However today AI is on the agenda of all tech giants. Their solutions have a supporting community and a small army of developers so you won’t need to worry about developing on a platform that can suddenly be deserted.

On top of already familiar names, relatively new companies are also part of tech giants thanks to recent acquisitions. For example, dialogflow (previously api.ai) is part of Google.

Startups

Startups are trying various approaches to innovate in this emerging market. For example, graphical user interfaces and even bots to build bots are offered to facilitate bot development.

If you decided that you need to work with a self-service chatbot solution provider, feel free to explore the self service chat bot providers on our platform.

See all chatbot SDK/API providers in one neat table

Bot NameLocationYear FoundedPlatform Capabilities*UXBot communicationNumber of EmployeesTotal Funding AmountReferencesLanguages
Beep BoopUSA2015Chatbot PlatformGUIText1-10N/AN/AMultilingual
BotsifyPakistan2017Chatbot PlatformGUIText1-10$ 0.03 mnApple, Shazam, Unicef, RemoteInterviewMultilingual
BottrUSA2015Chatbot PlatformGUIText1-10N/AN/AMultilingual
ChatfuelUSA2015Chatbot PlatformGUIText11-50$0.12 mnAdidas, Buzzfeed, MTV, Techcrunch, Volkswagen, UberMultilingual
ChatkooIndonesia2017Chatbot PlatformGUIText1-10N/AN/AMultilingual
ChatScriptN/AN/ANLP EngineProgrammableTextN/AN/AN/AMultilingual
ChatterBotN/AN/ANLP EngineProgrammableTextN/AN/AN/AMultilingual
ChattyPeopleIndia2017Chatbot PlatformGUIText1-10N/AN/AMultilingual
ConversableUSA2016Chatbot PlatformGUIText11-50N/ABudweiser, EY, PG, Pizza Hut, Sony, TGI Fridays, Viacom, Whole Foods, English
DestygoFrance2016Chatbot PlatformGUIText11-50$ 1.2 mnN/AMultilingual
EngatiIndia2017Chatbot PlatformProgrammableText1-10
FloatBotIndia2017Chatbot PlatformProgrammableText1-10N/AN/AMultilingual
FlowXOUK2014Chatbot PlatformGUIText1-10N/AN/AMultilingual
Google Dialogflow (previously Api.ai)USA2010NLP EngineProgrammableVoice / Text11-50$8.6 mnWSJ, KLM, Giorgio Armani, ComcastMultilingual
GubshupUSA2014Chatbot PlatformGUIText51-200N/AFacebook, Linkedin, Citibank, Twitter, Venture Beat, Cisco, Unilever, EbayEnglish, Hindi
IBM Watson Conversation ServiceUSA2014NLP EngineProgrammableVoice / Text2000+N/AN/AEnglish, Japanese
It's AliveFrance2016Chatbot PlatformGUIText1-10N/ASanofi, Capitol Music FranceEnglish
KITT.AI (acquired by Baidu)USA2014Chatbot PlatformGUIText1-10N/AN/AEnglish
ManyChatUSA2015Chatbot PlatformGUIText11-50$0.125 mnN/AEnglish
Meya.aiCanada2015Chatbot PlatformProgrammableText1-10$ 1 mnSony, Vodafone, Mercedes BenzMultilingual
Microsoft Bot FrameworkUSAN/ANLP EngineProgrammableVoice / TextN/AN/AN/AMultilingual
Microsoft Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS)USAN/ANLP EngineProgrammableVoice / TextN/AN/AN/AMultilingual
Mindmeld (acquired by Cisco)USA2011Chatbot PlatformProgrammableVoice / Text1-10N/AN/AEnglish
Morph.aiIndia2016Chatbot PlatformProgrammableText11-50N/AManchester City, Yamaha, Yes BankMultilingual
motion.ai (acquired by HubSpot)USA2015Chatbot PlatformGUIText1-10
Octane.aiUSA2016Chatbot PlatformGUIText1-10$1.5 mnKiehls, Warner Music GroupEnglish
PandorabotsUSA2008Chatbot PlatformProgrammableText1-10N/AN/AMultilingual
PypestreamUSA2015Chatbot PlatformProgrammableText11-50$22.5 mnCisco, Microsoft, SalesforceEnglish
rasa NLUGermany2015NLP EngineProgrammableText11-50N/AUBS, Raiffeisen, Yellow Pages English, German
Rebot.meN/A2014Chatbot PlatformGUIText1-10N/AN/AMultilingual
Recast.AI (acquired by SAP)France2015Chatbot PlatformProgrammableText11-50$ 2.4 mnAccenture, Capgemini, Deloitte, SalesForce, Cisco, Facebook, SlackMultilingual
RecimeUSA2017Chatbot PlatformGUIText1-10$0.4 mnCoca Cola, Wyre, GigigoMultilingual
Reply.aiUSA2016Chatbot PlatformProgrammableText11-50$1.4 mnMapfre, Samsung, Starbucks, HiltonEnglish
Semantic Machines USA2014NLP EngineProgrammableText11-50$20.9 mnN/AMultilingual
Sor'unTurkey2014Chatbot PlatformGUIText1-10N/AGaranti, Hepsiburada, Pizza Hut, DecathlonTurkish
TwylaGermany2015Chatbot PlatformGUIText1-10N/AShopify, Salesforce, OracleEnglish
wit.ai (acquired by Facebook)USA2013NLP EngineProgrammableVoice / Text1-10$3 mnN/AMultilingual

* Chatbot platforms offer developers capability to build and publish their chatbots. NLP engines provide mainly natural language processing capabilities to developers which they can use to build their bots.

If you believe you may need an end-to-end solution, read on:

Understand different types of end-to-end chatbot providers

We see 5 distinct classes of chatbot vendors:

Customer service experts

Nuance, founded in 1992, is the oldest and most established company on this list. Though Nuance is quite diversified, they were already established in voice authentication and call center software so they have the business relationships and the data to prepare successful systems

RPA companies

Robotic Process Automation automates mindnumbing back-office work typically handled by outsourcing companies. You can learn more from our extensive article on RPA. Since RPA bots deeply integrate with a company’s systems, they can also help chatbots access data and operational capabilities. WorkFusion offers both bots and free (free as in beer) RPA services. Integration of both is powerful yet cheap though chatbots are not offered for free by Workfusion yet.

Pure chatbot players

They use their own platform to develop complex bots fast. Using their own platform they are able to quickly produce competent bots. Some players focus on a specific niche in the market and produce bots customized for the industry or business function they specialize in.

Companies founded in 2000s

Entered chatbot business in 2000s when first web chat features were added. Accumulated decades of data and experience. Leading examples: Interactions, creativevirtual, Inbenta, next IT

Companies founded in 2010s

Founded since 2010s, they are developing novel approaches to chatbots. They offer end-to-end service and enable enterprises with limited capabilities to develop chatbots. They may lack experience and business relationships but they are plunging ahead with significant funding.

Comprehensive list of end-to-end chatbot providers

You can find a good list of pure chatbot players below. This list is not comprehensive but includes most of the major companies in the space.

Given their experience in omni-channel customer engagement, Nuance Communications already understands customer service industry and its chat bot Nina boasts Fortune 500 clients like Coca Cola and ING Netherlands.

Founded in 2002, Next IT is the oldest vendor in our database that focuses solely on chat bots. They claim that no other provider of intelligent interface technology has completed more successful implementations for Fortune 1000 companies.

Founded in 2014, Kore.ai is a relative newcomer into chatbots industry however it is already one of the largest players in the space. Kore.ai Bots Platform aims to provide a complete end-to-end solution with the features enterprises require to scale conversational chatbots.

Capable of dealing with 25+ languages, the InbentaBot claims to deliver industry-leading self-service rates of over 90%.

A finance specialist, Personetics claims its chatbot handles 95% of customer queries, increases cross-sell and online engagement.

 

With offices in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia, creative virtual boasts numerous customers including numerous global financial institutions, retailers and government agencies.

Nano Rep has tens of public references from leading corporations and claims up to 70% reduction in live-agent workload thanks to its chat bot. Just 2 months after we published this post listing Nanorep, they were acquired by LogMEIn which provides authentication and connectivity solutions for those who remotely connecting to networks.

Founded in 2015, pypestream is already one of the best funded vendors in the space

 

Boasting numerous Fortune 500 references, MindMeld was acquired by Cisco in March/2017 for $125 M. With Cisco’s resources, Mindmeld is one of the vendors with strongest support in the space.

Claire.AI is specialized in financial services in South East Asia covering these languages: Indonesian, Chinese (simplified and Cantonese), Japanese, Korean, Malay, Tagalog, Thai and Vietnamese

Working with Fortune 500 companies including Unilever, ubisend has experience creating an engaging and scalable chatbot experience.

 

Chatbot developers

These vendors use 3rd party chatbot solutions to develop custom solutions for their clients. Generally they enable smaller companies to build relatively simple bots fast. As they develop solutions in similar cases, they build a library of bot configurations which enable them to quickly build new bots.

We are listing major chatbot developers that we came across. However, there are too many chatbot developers to list and there are constantly new developers entering the market.

CompanyNumber of employees
Botscrew11-50
Chatbots Studio11-50
Contus251-500
Ideas2IT101-250
OCDLAB1-10
OnGraph Technologies101-250
Peerbits101-250
QBurst1001-2000
Root Info Solutions51-100
Singularika11-25
Unibot1-10

Other: Agencies, system integrators, consultants

If you are working for a large company, you already know that these are Swiss army knives. Think of any tech problem and there’s probably a company that can build a custom solution for you working on available solutions in the market. For example, if you are already working with a system integrator and considering getting an end-to-end service, consider asking them about their conversational capabilities.

Before you pick a solution provider

We categorized the chatbot players and put them in separate lists here. For the complete and up-to-date list of companies in the space, visit the chatbots section of appliedAI.com

Now that you know how you will build your chatbot, it is worth thinking about where to test, analyze and deploy it. We have a detailed article on chatbot ecosystem that can guide you. An important decision is where you will deploy the chatbot. You can consider the messaging platforms Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Kik or Slack for deployment. Especially Facebook Messenger has been one of the dominant platforms for bots, helping Facebook team develop a deep understanding around bots.

If you would like to have our opinion on who would be the right chatbot provider for your business, just let us know.

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20 comments

  1. Thanks for this report Cem.

    Can you add “live customers” as a factor in next iteration of this report?

  2. You missed Conversable – with clients like Pizza Huts, Whole Foods, TGIFridays, CES, Budweiser, Sam’s Club, Denny’s, Shake Shack, Viacom, Dermstore, Boston Market, EY, Sony Pictures, Proctor & Gamble, 7Eleven, and many more.

    1. No, as far as I see from their website they are promoting services of botmakers.net which is using chatfuel or manychat templates. We include both chatfuel and manychat in our list. Let me know if I am missing anything.
      Thanks,

  3. Could you please provide high level cost range for Self-service solutions with an API, SDK and for End-to-end solutions

    1. It depends on your requirements. Some important criteria are the channels where you will publish the bot, whether integration CRM or support ticketing systems is necessary. Finally, API costs are usage dependent so while a few conversations will be free, thousands of conversation will incur major fees. Just to give you an idea of the range, you can build and publish a chatbot using a bot builder platform like chatfuel for free. However, if you need a bot built for a Fortune 500, that will require extensive testing and can have a wide range of costs based on its complexity and the required integrations.

    1. Added! I would also recommend you to sign up to appliedAI.com at appliedai.com/register/vendor so we can better feature your services.

  4. Hmmm…interesting list. I however was thinking that you may want to include Engati as well. Engati is a chatbot platform that allows you to build, manage, integrate, train, analyse and publish your personalized bot in a matter of minutes. It presently supports eight major messaging platforms including messenger, kik, telegram, line, viber, skype, slack and webchat with a focus on customer engagement, conversational commerce, and customer service and fulfillments.

  5. I’ve discovered report only now. It gives a good picture of market. Thank you Cem
    Could you please add the Singularika. We work with clients in North America, West Europe, Australia and New Zealand. We have an own dialogue processor.
    Thank you

  6. Hi,
    interesting information about the market and list of companies. My only complaint is that we are not on it! It would be great if you could add us. We are The Bot Forge, a chatbot and conversational UI solutions company based in the UK.
    thank you 🙂
    A

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