Chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) platforms are changing the way we work, a pervasive trend for almost two decades. But new tools and technologies have put companies and consumers alike within reach of entirely new enterprise-class solutions. They’re primed to bring benefits ranging from improving customer service to making business development easier or even predicting and preventing fraud. But new models aren’t enough to get things done. Today’s AI solutions need to become more of a personality, a personality that can learn and adapt based on natural human interaction.

Just like humans, chatbots evolve, change, and sometimes even evolve again. If you’re looking to ensure that your AI actually learns, then look no further than a company’s founder. They’re your starting point – your guinea pigs. They are the ones that your AI will initially interact with and learn from the most. It’s their greatest asset, and the most important step you need to take in order to ensure that your company’s AI lives up to its potential.

As early as possible

When developing an AI chatbot, you want to get it up and running as soon as possible. You want it to feel natural. It’s going to be online all day, maybe on a mobile device most of the time. Whatever device you’re using, you’ll have to be somewhere with internet connection. If you’re on a laptop, you have to be walking around in an office, facing a blank wall to interface with the chatbot. If you’re out and about, you may need to sit at a table.

As a result, your chatbot needs to feel connected to you.

It needs to feel like it understands who you are, how you live, how you work, and what you care about. It needs to be responsive to your questions and messages. It needs to know how to turn red when you yell at it, and it needs to know that when you share a dance, it knows how to dance.

Because your chatbot is able to interact with people and will be doing it constantly, you need to teach it just like you would an apprentice. You need to give it training. You need to give it lessons. You need to show it that you understand the different types of human behavior.

Training your bot

You need to teach your chatbot to conduct itself in a specific way, or you’ll end up wasting time and money when it turns out it just doesn’t know how to work in that way.

Another way to test your bot is to give it virtual reality training. The more virtual reality you give it, the better. It can learn without ever having to confront it on a daily basis. You can even give it facial cues or a voice tone that acts as a pre-condition for what it’s going to see in a virtual environment.

Eliminate the baggage

You need to test it first, but you also need to get rid of the baggage. Do your best to remove all the red tape of configuration, configuration, configuration.

From there, your AI needs to integrate with your other applications and workflows and without those controls. If it can handle all that, then it’s ready for prime time.

Assessing for talent

As you may have noticed, your AI doesn’t want to solely exist in your office. In fact, it’s better off working from the Web than hanging out on a desk in a cube.

Because of this, you need to get away from your bots and let them live in the wild.

As long as you ensure that they’re communicating with you in a way that’s natural and meaningful, then you can rest assured that your AI will learn and evolve to provide the same level of service.

Bernard Marr is global director at AI at Microsoft.