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The Golden State Warriors have partnered with Chatfuel for a Facebook chatbot for the NBA playoffs.

By Mark J. Burns
April 20, 2017

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Known as a tech-first organization from ownership down to the 12th player on the bench, the Golden State Warriors have ventured into the artificial intelligence chatbot realm, partnering with Chatfuel, a platform that creates chatbots for Facebook.

The Warriors first started having conversations about a chatbot, now called the Warriors Playoffs Assistant, during the early stages of the 2016-17 season. Senior Director of Digital Jeremy Thum said that the “possibilities were endless” with what the team could create.

After being introduced to the Chatfuel platform, Thum and his colleagues liked how flexible and hands on the platform could be, with a digital staffer needing zero coding or development knowledge to begin experimenting.

“Even a novice could get in, start adjusting things and creating a conversation flow immediately. It was the thing that jumped out

Dmitry Dumik, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Chatfuel—which also works with sports entities like adidas and the World Surf League—added that the platform tries to make it as simple as possible for sports team, like the Warriors, to launch a customizable chatbot for Facebook. To Dumik’s knowledge, Chatfuel is the “biggest in the space” where more sports organizations, media publishers and blue-chip brands are leveraging artificial intelligence.

Said Thum about the Warriors Playoffs Assistant: “We’ve purposefully designed it to be more guided than free flow, but fans can certainly enter in queries and comments that hopefully we have good responses to. It’s mainly one-on-one, and it’s a different thing we wanted to explore.”

He explained that between now and when the Chase Center opens in 2019, it’s an ideal time for the Warriors “to test, learn and adjust how things might fit into an experience,” with includes fans communicating through the Facebook Messenger platform and being able to ask the virtual assistant about the team’s roster, injury reports, schedule, statistics and other relevant information.

“The playoffs is a perfect window of heightened fan interest and activity,” said Thum about the timing in launching the Warriors Playoffs Assistant.

So far, dozens of responses have been crafted by the Warriors, according to Thum, with that number expected to increase as more users leverage the messaging service and the team understands what topics fans are interested in discussing.

If fans are attending a home playoff game at Oracle Arena, the chatbot can provide additional insight into parking and traffic updates along with where is the closest bathroom or beer stand. Based on the “playoffs” label, the digital staff has the option to pull the plug on the chatbot altogether depending on fan feedback and how it performs.

“If we want to, at the end of the playoffs, we can press pause, digest, analyze and see what worked well and how we can improve upon it. Then, potentially reboot it again for next season,” he said.

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