Conversational Trends 2019 - Part 1

The last big trend we’ve all been waiting for was a mythical year of the mobile. Currently, as the majority of all internet traffic is generated by our smartphones, it’s safe to say this mythical era has finally come. The mobile era brought many new use-cases and good design practices, but the defining trait is definitely the introduction of much smaller screens.

This size-restriction created a new set of rules that designers and usability experts need to adhere to. We came a long way from keyboard-based UI’s, through GUI’s, and mouse scrolling to fingers and touch screens.

The next natural evolution is going to be our voice.

And the most natural medium for our voice is a conversation. We’ve been having conversations on-screen since the nineties using short text messages, Then came Instant Messengers like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. In 2016, more IM messages were sent than emails. Conversations seem to be where it’s at now.


Fig. 2 1-800-Flowers, one of the first Facebook Messengers bots, used IM to offload its’ phoneline-based flower ordering business allowing you to browse and purchase flowers and gifts directly from your smartphone

Bots came a long way from silly little toys to alternative transactional interfaces generating real revenue. No wonder Gartner predicts that within 2 years, more than half of enterprises will be spending more on developing bots than creating mobile apps. Gartner also predicts that most enterprise organizations will adapt a so-called CUX (Conversational AI-first Interfaces). CUX will start to play an equally important role to the one the regular web UX currently plays.

As UX turns to CUX, so will commerce evolve from web to mobile, and then to conversational commerce. As Chris Messina, the inventor of the widely-spread hashtag, puts it, “conversational commerce is about delivering convenience, personalization and decision support while people are on the go, with only partial attention to spare.”

If you plan to implement chatbots or conversation commerce in your organization, or if you’d like to know the trends for this technology, you need to understand that chatbots are as much about the conversational user interface as the intelligence behind it. Some call it AI, but actually it’s often a messy combination of integrating different systems (CRM, billing, product catalogues, payment gateways) together with NLU/NLP algorithms sprinkled on top (Natural Language Understanding/Natural Language Processing).

Let us look at the stages on how this technology will evolve in near future based on example for an energy company:

Level 1 – Notification Assistants (last 10 years)

Level 2 – FAQ Assistants (now)

Level 3 – Contextual Assistants (now – 2 years from now)

Level 4 – Personalized Assistants (2 – 4 years)

Level 5 – Autonomous Organization of Assistants (+10 years)
In this scenario, all of your life’s details from your bank, HR department or even your gym are pulled together and combined with the Energy company system’s data (CRM, Sales, Billing etc.) to present you with contextual, hyper-personalized offer. An example would be like sensing a coming holiday trip based on a calendar date, switching off all electronic devices in your house and adjusting the temperature based on weather predictions.

In this part, I broke down the main ideas behind it and tried to give you an idea on how we might expect those solutions to evolve in the future. Armed with this knowledge, we will look at the most important trends shaping the industry in 2019.

Łukasz Felsztukier

Łukasz worked on Hycom’s own conversational UI platform Hymate and was involved in designing and implementing chatbot projects across different industries including Telecommunication, Energy and services. His main activities include designing and running ideation workshops that help enterprises reach their business objectives using innovative solutions.

lukasz.felsztukier@hycom.pl

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